With me today we have UK-based interdisciplinary artist, Adrien Châtelain, whose practice is focused on audio production, music, audiovisual installation, analogue photography, poetry, sculpture and software. In terms of themes, they investigate the climate crisis, interactions between humans and nature; decay; gender; and the impact of technology, with an emphasis on texture.
During the interview, we talk about their practice and creative methods and the importance of taking care of your mental health both for individual and creative growth. Adrien is a very interesting artist and we had a very engaging conversation, so stay put.
I am an interdisciplinary artist working in audio production, music, audiovisual installation, analogue photography, poetry, sculpture and software. My audio works range from natural field recordings and soundscapes to complex, textural musical pieces blending orchestration with electronic sounds. My practice focuses on the climate crisis, interactions between humans and nature; decay; gender; and the impact of technology, with an emphasis on texture.
I feel that my practice is particularly relevant to the podcast, as much of it centers climate change. My current exhibition, The Grey Shape of the City is an immersive audiovisual installation combining analog photographs with spatialised field recordings captured in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, focusing on nature’s reclamation of synthetic structures, giving visitors a glimpse into a post-human landscape. The project engages with the role of the natural world in the face of damage caused by human habitation and radiation. Visitors are prompted to consider their actions long term effects, both individually and as humans, challenging our anthropocentrism.
I am currently in residence with Metal as part of their New Artist Residency, developing Degrade, an audio arts installation centred around the degradation of analogue tape loops, using them to explores the relationship between consumption and environmental damage, drawing particular attention to damaging cycles. Degrade also interrogates the boundaries between artist and participant, by handing over control of the experience and the outcome to the viewer. Through the tangible loss of fidelity caused by physically damaging the loops, Degrade is designed to prompt viewers to consider the destructive effects of their own actions in a broader context.
I also engage with the climate emergency in my music - for example, 4LN, from my upcoming record. The concept underpinning the track is the climate crisis, and the anxiety, alienation, and overall fear that we have failed and abandoned our future generations that accompanies that. 4LN blends soundscaping, foley, complex spatialised textures, synthesis and orchestral elements with unusual vocal effects and an eclectic arrangement structure in order to support the song’s theme.
The grey shape of the city
"In 2019 I hiked from the outskirts of the abandoned Chernobyl Exclusion Zone into Pripyat. There I witnessed decrepit structures being gently swallowed by the earth contrasted by untouched wildlands replete with life, flourishing in a place of human and environmental destruction. The analogue photographs in the project were shot on 35mm Ilford Delta EI 3200 Professional black & white film, with the express purpose of capturing the unseen - radiation damage is visible on several of the images in the set; primarily in the form of additional grain, spots, and ephemeral, wispy white streaks. The images were taken with particular attention to the Soviet brutalist architecture, with the black and white film accentuating the distinctive grey concrete. The total amount of radiation we measured throughout our journey into the zone is less than the amount we absorbed through the plane ride alone, adding to the growing understanding that human activities and habitation are more destructive to the environment than the radiation from the 1986 disaster."