Sébastien Robert(FR)
PARTICIPANT 2019

Sébastien Robert (1993) is a French sound artist, photographer, researcher and master student of the ArtScience Interfaculty between the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) and the Royal Conservatoire (KC) of The Hague. Sébastien participated in our pilot pogram with his ongoing research project 'You’re no Bird of Paradise', that focuses on traditional music and rituals in danger of disappearing due to technological, societal and/or ecological issues.

Instead of simply documenting them, the aim of his project is to study both their sonic and visual characteristics, the context in which they are played and to find ways to translate them into tangible artworks. An example of his work, in the form of a sandstone engraving commissioned by WeTransfer & the Jaunt, is the recording of an ancient Khmer music ritual during a sacred ceremony of the Cambodian Phleng Arak. Provided that the latter will not be ever shared nor published, Sébastien deliberately took a step further, by making sure that nobody would be able to reproduce this music. ‘Starting from the recordings’ sonogram - a visual representation of the spectrum of frequencies in a sound - I translated it into ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), a character encoding standard for electronic communication but with a limitation of characters: only 0,1,2,3 or 4.'

This work has now been selected by the Agri/Cultures.Seed-links Exhibition for storage in a space next to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This deep cavern inside a frozen mountain on the Arctic island of Svalbard currently holds over 1 million samples of the world’s seeds and is an incredible achievement of science and diplomacy. In June 2019, when a new shipment of seeds will arrive, a collection of artworks will be interred in the mountain alongside them. ‘The exhibition will serve as a reminder that seeds live within vast webs of interrelations- ecological, sociotechnical and cultural- and that these connections are also worthy of celebration and preservation.’

Sébastien also works for the Amsterdam-based recordlabel Field Records and performed at various renowned international electronic music clubs such as DOMMUNE (Tokyo), Vurt (Seoul), Korner (Taipei) and OHM (Berlin). He was previously involved in media art festivals as a curator and fundraiser such as TodaysArt (The Hague), Mirage (Lyon) & Fiber (Amsterdam). His unique and transdisciplinary artistic practice gave birth to collaborative works, most notably with Children of the Light, which have been presented at various European media institutes such as STRP Biënnale (Eindhoven), Scopitone (Nantes), De School (Amsterdam) and Interstice (Caen).