Janus Fouché is a digital artist from Pretoria, South Africa, working in multimedia projects ranging from electronic musical instruments, interactive installations, to self-organizing biological systems.
Born in Pretoria (January 1989), he completed his Bachelor’s degree of Information Science (Specializing in Multimedia) and subsequent honours degree in Multimedia at the University of Pretoria in 2011.
His background has allowed The Algorithm to become his primary medium, with all its manifestations in robotics, installation, music, film, and visual arts to follow naturally. He focuses on the digital space as a parallel, abstract, but equally present universe, with its own laws and aesthetics to be constructed, explored, and reflected upon, revealing key themes in our own lived experience.
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Right Into Her Arms
A film installation is built into a mechanized panel proscenium structure with sliding and rotating panels, programmed to move as characters in the projection.(amateur recordings on youtube)
This mechanized multimedia puppet proscenium is a continuation of the Lulu opera project. Drawings from the opera are combined with filmed footage. The music of Webern and Schonberg are combined with 1940's German swing and the Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters, forming a collage that moves between nightmare, longing remembrance, and cabaret performances.
The projection surface is broken up with panels of paper and cardboard of different texture and colour.
The film concept is further broken up when the cardboard panels start moving across the stage, turning, shifting, and eventually taking on personalities of their own. They become the protagonists of the piece, lovers that conspire together and end in a dance.
Lead video editor on the film elements
Circuitry designer for the mechanical elements
Software designer and engineer for a novel motion playback system to run the panels
motion designer for the choreography to the panel movements
- whitechapel gallery London 21 September 2016 – 15 January 2017
dirge ( A x B ) XOR ( A+B ) AND ( A OR B )
An abstract minimalist exploration of the stroboscopic effect.(watch on vimeo)
This atonal audio composition and the accompanying visual piece is generated from a series of sawtooth and sine waves, at extremely varying frequencies. These waves are cross-modulated in different ways, using complex chains of Boolean operations to alter the sound.
The role of modulating sound waves is stretched to that of musical sequencer (triggering the musical progression), the tonal, timbral, harmonic as well rhythmic devices.
In the visual piece, lines of white noise are dropped downward at varying speeds. This motion is controlled by the same principles of waveform modulation. The pixels are shifted into drifting changing patterns with Boolean operations based on their relationship to one-another and their position in space.
Once their motion reaches a high enough speed, an optical illusion (stroboscopic effect) is formed where they appear to slow down and change direction- to move upward, or at times horizontally.
algorithm boolean logic stroboscopic Processing
Three electric creatures
Three electric creatures explore a dark digital room.(watch on vimeo)
This is an emergent molecular dynamic algorithm. A collection of simple impersonal rules that bring about unexpected expressive behaviour. A swarm of particles moves through three dimensional space, with very few very simple rules- Particles are attracted to one another (to an extent), and repulsed by one another (to an extent).
The swarm is divided into three groups, and it is this behaviour that both keeps them together, and propels the body of particles forward.
Particles themselves are not visible, but certain individuals within each group are connected with lines, based on distances between them. This connection method creates an unstable electric creature.
There is also an an interaction between the three creatures: Particles from different creatures agitate one-another dramatically, straining their atomic bonds, causing the creatures that share the same space to clash violently.
The rules of motion behaviour are loosely based on differential evolution (a form of computational intelligence) -except that here the metaheursitic is purely based on the particle's spacial relationship with one-another, more closely related to molecular dynamics.. This algorithm is similar to research done into bird flocking and fish school algorithms
I see in particles a digital comparison to atoms in our world. Basic building blocks that are constantly in motion, with basic rules yet infinitely diverse results. I don't tell them what to do- but set in motion the circumstances they need to create something beautiful that I would not be able to achieve otherwise.
algorithm artificial life particle swarm Processing
More Sweetly Play the Dance
An 8 screen video piece, a procession of figures over a charcoal landscape.
A Danse Macabre - everyone from priests and politicians to their receptionists, to refugees or the destitute carrying their possessions, pulling trolleys or the dead, the sick, moving toward the same fate.
At the same time they are the unnamed figures casting shadows in Plato's allegory of the cave, the workers and labourers behind the scenes of the story. "If we ever get to heaven, we will be the ones working to make the thunder." There are elements of Medieval dancing to avoid the Plague, and a reference to the Chinese cultural revolution.
My credit: Video editing and construction.
video editing and compositing animation complex project infrastructure motion capture and tracking multi-screen projection(watch on youtube)
- Eye Film Institute Amsterdam from 25 April to 30 August 2015.
- Marian Goodman Gallery London from 11 September to 24 October 2015
- Lichtsicht 5 Bad Rothenfelde from 18 September 2015 to 7 February 2016.
O Sentimental Machine
A 5 screen video installation, projected on surfaces of the Hotel Splendid Palas first floor lobby, on the Büyükada island of Istanbul.
This piece explores the time around Leon Trotsky's exile in Istanbul, and his secretary Evgenia. Behavioural theorists of the time framed organic life as complex mechanical systems, where providing set input parameters will result in a predictable response.
At the same time, advances in technology, with new exciting developments in electronics and industrialization, moved closer to the dream of "perfect machine", arriving at the same point- where machines take on human traits, and become sentimental.(watch on vimeo)
My credit: co- video-editor and -compositor, with Žana Marović.
Control circuitry and software for the sentimental megaphone machine.
I also performed the theremin in the sound track composed by Philip Miller.
Notes Towards a Model Opera
A 3 screen video piece, on the Chinese Cultural revolution and the events surrounding the time throughout the world.
Circumstances around the periphery of the event are examined. The socialist thread is followed from China- the Model operas of Madame Mao, the self-criticisms and widespread socio-economic disruption, to the Paris Commune uprising, to African liberation struggles of the time.
The images are brought together with the socialist anthem The Internationale as the soundtrack to the piece.
My credit: co-video-editor with Žana Marović
video editing and compositing animation multi-screen projection
- The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art Beijing from 27 June to 30 August 2015
- Marian Goodman Gallery London from 11 September to 24 October 2015
Return Of The Gods: The Ancient Ones
An interactive musical bronze sculpture installation.(watch on youtube)
Towering larger than life-size bronze sculptures of mystical figures on a journey by Deborah Bell, given life and expanded by an interactive sound composition- in a collaboration between myself, composer Philip Miller and sound engineer Gavan Eckhart.
I created a media player system to play back 5 a channel sound-scape composition by Philip Miller, each track dedicated to- and playing from above each sculpture independently. Each channel is looped separately, creating a constantly shifting and drifting organic composition.
Along with this I put together a sensor network, to sense the presence of a viewer. This proximity is used to directly control each of the five channels' volume separately. An empty room is completely silent. When you step close to a sculpture, the sound starts to gently rise from the figure, drifting to silence only a few moments after you leave. More viewers at a time change the nature of the piece fundamentally but to no less value.
These are not simply samples or sounds being triggered: the composition's structure is given a finely tuned balance between flexibility and choreography, to bring about a deeper experience. This is not interaction as a game, or toy, but in the service of a truly contemplative and subtle emergent piece.
My credit: Interaction design and software.
interaction design sound-installation piece proximity Arduino Puredata
Untitled (Singer Choir/Chorus)
An interactive kinetic sculpture
image belongs to the Marian Goodman Gallery
Forming part of the Second Hand Reading exhibition, megaphones attached to singer sewing machines each play a voice of an African choir singer, performing a composition composed by Neo Muyanga.
The sculpture has a hand crank, that drives the music as a hand-cranked record-player. One can drive it at any speed or direction, playing the choir fast and high, slow and low, or at a constant pace -in an attempt to keep the wavering tune constant.
There is also a further mechanical element, each megaphone turns in a slow arc while singing, combining mechanical movement and gear systems with digital signal processing and interaction design.
The mechanical sculpture was built by Christoff Wolmarans and Chris-Waldo de Wet.
My credit: Design and construction of the software and circuitry.
- The Marian Goodman Gallery London from 17 September to 26 October 2013