Translating the language of movement

Written by

Bree Castillo

Photographed by

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Influenced by Earth’s constant rotation, Paris-based French artist Vincent Leroy channeled the natureal breath of the wind for his Molecular Cloud that graced the grass of this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Molecular Cloud, everchanging and forever fluttering, explored the element of perception, while balancing the idea of what is natural and what is artificial. Emulating the elegance of the clouds above us, Leroy’s mirroring and kinetic form becomes a microsopism for an evolving perspective. 

Always moving forward, Leroy shares that movement “inspires life, amazement, and a permanently shifting viewpoint.” It is through the ceaseless current, the quiet fluidity, that we are able to adapt, dream, and evolve. And while the changes and gestures of Molecular Cloud are subtle and silent, and might go unnoticed by a fast passer by, the movement still occurs– and it is this occurrence of noticing the elusive, where Leroy inspires. 

Here, the artist translates the language of movement. 

What have you learned about life, yourself, and your work, through your artistic exploration of movement and fluidity? 

I grew up on a farm in the countryside and I've been tinkering since I was a child so in a way my work has always been intrinsic to me. More ingrained than an apprenticeship, my artistic practice is a reflection of my personality that has evolved over the course of my life. I started by making mobiles with objects I found around me and recycled materials,  then evolved towards more abstract, more sophisticated, and more refined pieces. My interest in movement came from my fondness for tinkering. It is extremely satisfying to make something move, or make something work. Gradually the mechanical aspect diminished to make room for the poetic dimension of the movement.

There are many obvious differences between the natural world and the digital world–do you find any similarities?

Yes, of course, especially with parametric design tools that bring a more "organic" dimension to digital design. Several of my works mix those two universes, including Molecular Cloud, which was inspired by both molecular structures and the digital universe, or my projects Metacloud and Chromatic Orbs which evoke natural elements like clouds and flowers by harnessing a digital vocabulary.

What does your creative process look like? How can you see a space in the real world and imagine it through a distorted perspective? 

There are no rules, sometimes I am inspired by a landscape, sometimes by a material or by the movement of a bent bicycle wheel! Some projects become obvious very quickly and others take longer to mature. But in general, my approach is more experimental than intellectual. I do a lot of tests and mock-ups. I am very interested in the phenomena of perception and when I discover a new place, my instinct is to ask how I can transform that perception. The dialogue between my works and their surrounding environment is very important to me. In a world that is becoming more and more dematerialized, we may neglect or no longer pay attention to the world around us. I want my works to be part of the real world and at the same time offer a different perspective by adding a poetic or dreamlike dimension.

Did you hope that Coachella-goers understood something specific about Molecular Cloud? How do you find a middle ground between creating for yourself and creating for an audience?

Not at all, I had no particular message with Molecular Cloud. As I said before, my approach is more emotional than intellectual, so I only hoped that people would be intrigued, surprised, or touched by my work. I like my work to be accessible and touch people in a spontaneous way without the need for explanation.

Molecular Cloud partially relies on light to complete its visual purpose. When creating the piece, what specifics or technicalities did you have to consider to ensure your vision was properly executed? 

I am a fairly pragmatic person so when I design a project, I attach as much importance to the way in which it will be carried out as to the initial concept.  These are not subsequent steps. Each project has different constraints, particularly when it comes to installations located outdoors and in motion: the climate, the lifespan of the work, its size, and security aspects are all elements that I try to take into account from the start of the design. For Coachella, we worked in close collaboration with artistic director Paul Clemente’s team who supported the production and installation of the work on-site within the constraints of the festival without compromising the work. I don't always have the chance to develop a project in such ideal conditions!

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Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Vincent Leroy, Molecular Cloud