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Matt Pyke & Friends: Super-Computer-Romantics

La Gaîté Lyrique gallery in Paris celebrate the acclaimed Sheffield-based digital pioneer in their latest exhibition

La Gaîté Lyrique gallery in Paris invite you to enter the world of Matt Pyke: the pioneering English artist fronting a cultural wave of digital revolution from his garden shed in Sheffield. Since establishing his multiplatform enterprise Universal Everything in 2004, Matt has been redefining the digital landscape with his innovative, bright and playful technological wonders. Matt’s work has earned him a CV boasting a heavy list of clients such as tech giants Apple, to fashion house Chanel - as well as being recognised as one of the Guardian newspapers top 50 designers.  

Set up in response to this new infinite world of digital artistry, the La Gaîté Lyrique gallery is the first of its kind. Located in the heart of Paris, the gallery is dedicated to exhibiting the very best in digital arts and new music. Curated by La Gaîté Lyrique resident Jerome Delormas and guest curator Charlotte Léouzon, Super-Computer-Romantics celebrates the artist's works across the whole of the gallery. Dazed Digital caught up with Matt to talk about the exhibition and the open road ahead...   

Dazed Digital: How has it been juggling your art projects and Universal Everything?
Matt Pyke: The art projects are near identical to the commercial Universal Everything work, our approach and creative boundaries are similar, the difference is the context. In a gallery you respond to the architecture and a stance within society, with a brand you respond to the spirit and the audience. In parallel to the production of Super-Computer-Romantics, we have created artworks for Chanel, Deutsche Bank Hong Kong, Adobe and Nissan.

DD: What’s been your most challenging project and why?
Matt Pyke: Re-launching MTV worldwide for 500 million viewers in 16 languages. We made some brave, unique pieces which shook up a very mainstream channel and injected it with a new energy. All thanks to the people leading the channel who believed in our approach. Creating a 20,000 pixel wide realtime video artwork for Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong. The resolution is 5 years ahead of its time, the content continuously reinventing itself everyday, forever.

DD: What inspires your work?
Matt Pyke: Everything beyond what I do. Things I don’t understand yet. Cognitive science, molecular gastronomy, landscape painting, music by insane people, classical music, geology, calligraphy, cricket.

DD: What are you excited about at the moment?
Matt Pyke: I'm wondering what will happen when the exhibition opens. Our work will be perceived in a different context, by a wider audience beyond design. I never know where the next project will come from, whom I will be collaborating with, or whether I will be drawing or directing. That’s where the excitement lies.

DD: How did the curation of your work with the La Gaîté Lyrique come about?
Matt Pyke: I've been working with curator Charlotte Léouzon for some years now, finding art projects which suit us. We met with the director of La Gaîté Lyrique, Jerome Delhormas before the construction of the gallery had even started. The artworks evolved from a stack of ideas discussed at that moment. Every artwork is 100% new for the show, but born from processes we have learned and developed through the studio projects.

DD: Super-Computer-Romantics and the La Gaîté Lyrique gallery highlights the surge of digital artistry  – what characterises the ‘Digital Revolution’ and how do you think it has /is affecting art forms?
Matt Pyke: A key notion is one of 'openness'. The traditional fine art world is very closed, with editions restricted to push values up and processes kept secret. With digital, the process is open; via public collaboration with coders and musicians. Via the use of opensource software. Via digital distribution such as vimeo, youtube and podcasts. Once the work is released into the digital world, it takes a life of its own; embedded into random blogs, appearing at digital festivals, being remixed on youtube, techies working out how it was made. You cannot control where its seen, or who owns it. Our desire is to find an equilibrium between open distribution and physical ownership for collectors.

DD: Where do you see it going next?
Matt Pyke: More screens on more surfaces. Already our works have shown on tiny mobiles to skyscrapers in Ginza, Tokyo. As screen technologies develop - driven by the forces of advertising - there will be more sizes and contexts to fill with content. From LED fabric to projecting onto the moon.

Super-Computer-Romantics, La Gaîté Lyrique, 3bis, Rue Papin, 75003, Paris, April 21 – 27 May, 2011