Described as ‘unapologetically experimental’, artist Julien Masson is something of a mad scientist of the art world. Passionate about blurring the lines between science, technology and the arts Julien’s work explores three-dimensional printing, LIDAR scanning and computer programming to name but a few of the technologies he uses to make his work.
“I know a lot of scientists who are frustrated artists- I’m an artist who is a frustrated scientist,” he laughs as he explains a recent project with a plant biologist at Bath University as part of ‘Visions of Science’. This exhibition sees artists and scientists across different departments brought together in celebration of collaboration. “I’m in awe of scientists,” he continues, “I think they’re the ones who are going to save the world and I want to contribute.”
Julien is from France originally and set out to study fine art in Paris before making the move across the Channel to Bournemouth to study Computer Animation. Having raised eyebrows on a regular basis by bringing charcoal drawings and radical artistic ideas into the animation studio, it became clear to him that the Computer Graphics industry wasn’t going to suit him. This foundation however has undeniably influenced his work and coupled with his exploratory nature has seen him experiment with a number of unlikely and interesting medium.
“I’m willing to try anything. All these different strands feed off each other and I will never settle for one- that’s difficult for people sometimes.” And he’s right of course, often we like artists to be consistent in their approach; it makes their work easier to relate to, quicker to understand and more accessible. That doesn’t seem to matter to Julien; for him the process of making remains the most important thing, something that can easily be forgotten by many in the name of perfection.
Julien is a character full of contrast- on the one hand he is relaxed and incredibly easy going whilst simultaneously, palpably brimming with creative energy. “Art is a way of life and a muscle,” he explains, “and for me it’s about momentum.” Julien seems to have an infinite number of ideas buzzing around in his head at any given time but what’s exciting about him as an artist is that he appears to have an equally infinite drive with which to execute them. “It’s like a compulsion, sometimes I wake at 4am and now is the time.”
On a recent project Julien used LIDAR scans of the New Forest to inform his work. LIDAR in this case is laser technology that scans the landscape from an airborne drone, building up a picture of the surface of the earth. “I’m keen to explore the digitisation of the landscape,” Julien explains, “Farmers are becoming scientists and technicians to get better at farming; we are experiencing nature in a digital way- it’s both a good and bad thing.”
Julien is an exciting artist, his trajectory a testament to his inquisitive and adventurous spirit. Who knows which idea will be the next to come to the surface but one thing we can be sure of is that there will be plenty more where it came from.