Judith Deschamps 4/4 : The Molt

Artistic Residencies : The Blog

This is the nature of research, whether artistic or scientific, and perhaps what makes it so fascinating: we know what we are looking for, much more rarely what we will find. In this case, during her artistic research residency at Ircam, Judith Deschamps was surprised by an ambition she had never really had before: to make a film. This is how La Mue was born a perfectly unexpected videographic tale, a new "moult" of the project still in progress.

When she arrived in the basement of Ircam to carry out the project she had been dreaming of for so many years - recreating Geminiano Giacomelli's aria Quell'usignolo che innamorato, which Farinelli was able to sing to King Philip V of Spain - Judith Deschamps certainly had a small idea (partial, no doubt, but a small idea nonetheless) of what it would involve: She was aware of the long and laborious work that awaited her with the scientists of the institute, she imagined that she would have to immerse herself in all this business of artificial intelligence and deep learning, she also suspected that she would have to deal with the musical aspects of the score to manage the multiple recording sessions as well as possible and to take hold of the material that the machine would provide her . However, what she did not expect was the richness of the human encounters that accompanied the process: with the researchers at Ircam and the singers.

©Judith Deschamps

“I was really touched by these encounters and with them, certain intimate stories such as the story of Farinelli and the very nature of the project aroused in the people I was in contact with on a daily basis," recalls Judith Deschamps, "stories and voices that are no longer audible in the song that we are recreating in my artistic research residency. As Emmanuel Levinas would say, these encounters and these faces 'burst in'.

They displaced me and transformed the original intentions of the project. Moreover, the world of Ircam inspired me - this underground world, a little secretive, criss-crossed with corridors and passages, with its laboratories, its studios, its hushed offices...".

Thus was born the idea of a film, still in production, which takes the form of a videographic tale. A tale that could almost be described as picaresque: by revisiting the story of the castrato and the monarch, the film elliptically retraces the history of the project itself (this "moulting" by the AI, of all the voices it feeds on to recreate Farinelli's aria). In so doing, the narrative detaches itself from reality in order to better focus on the stories of its protagonists.

©Judith Deschamps

The figure of Farinelli - like that of the king, moreover, and their astonishing relationship - becomes an empty shell into which each of them interferes and projects his or her own experience, his or her own "moult", sending the spectator back to the deep philosophical questions Judith Deschamps has been working on  since her beginnings: the relationship to change and to the transformation of the body, up to its ultimate passage from life to death.

By staging different moults," concludes Judith Deschamps, "I am taking the opposite view of the mortifying vision that transhumanism holds today, and the illusory technological improvements that this trend of thought aspires to bring to humans.

©Judith Deschamps