Let’s talk about an Audio Visual project called Recent Arts. Composed of both Berlin based Valentina Berthelon and Tobias Freund, the duo presents a new AV piece called SKIN. Recently, the duo released an album under the same name on Tobias Freund’s NSP (Non Standard Productions) label, and that’s the way I discovered SKIN’s double universe.
In one hand, you have the work of Valentina Berthelon who is the visual part of the project. The Chilean-born artist began her art studies at the University of Chile in 1996, and pursued them in Mexico, where she discovered her strong interest in the arts of multimedia. During this period she also developed an interest in electronic music, and so she started a small collective in which musicians and visual artist would come together, create content and produce electronic music parties with live video sessions. But the thread that drives Valentina in her visual works goes beyond the simple aesthetic concept. Even if she doesn’t pretend to question anything, she may call us to consider certain topics in our modern society. SKIN is not the first audio visual piece of Recent Arts, but I’ll confine this article to it, and also I prefer to offer you my feelings after watching, listening and reading about SKIN than to copy and paste the press report we can find on the net.
SKIN goes beyond the aesthetic concept that is increasingly being presented in visual works, aimed at erasing all the imperfections, which nevertheless characterize us and identifies us as unique beings. SKIN refocuses our body and its language in a world more and more submitted to technologies, a world in which our exchanges are more and more virtualized. A world in which our body seems to be freezing and progressively disappearing behind a series of predefined avatars, or any other form of Photoshop “fixings applications”. A world in which the Human and its image seems to be getting more and more imprisoned, and thus isolated in a dictatorship of perfection. SKIN may invite us to preserve real references on the notion of aesthetics, in opposition to the imposed codes, which are increasingly “polished” and standardised. Unreachable references, which if considered, can complicate a person’s development.
The development of this AV piece was certainly guided by a search for equilibrium, a balance between our environment, ourselves and the technologies. The development of the album and videos that accompany this AV piece were made over the course of multiple live performances, the improvising factor feeding new ideas and arrangements to offer us the final result. Today Sonofmarketing is very pleased to premiere Ophelia, in video form but also as Bonus track! Actually this track doesn’t appear on SKIN album, but was announced in the booklet delivered with the vinyl. A booklet in which recent arts wanted to show through photos and texts a little bit of the SKIN Album process and performance. There, they mention 3 forthcoming audiovisual pieces, and Ophelia is one of them.. The choreography is performed by Simona Marini.
“With the video Ophelia we go back to the theme of how new technologies are impacting human social relationships and as the natural world is being modified by science and technology we see the birth of new realities. The cyberspace is a place where the physical space has zero value and as our experiences develop more and more in the virtual world our bodies and senses are taking new dimensions. In this scenario the magnitude that prevails is “time over space”. Our bodies are dematerialising and our identities are translated into information and images.”-Valentina Berthelon-
As I stated above, Recent Arts is a duo, while Valentina Berthelon creates the visual part of the project, on the other hand, Tobias Freund is working on the musical side. Tobias Freund’s learning process begins in the 80s, as he worked as an engineer in the high-end studio of the German producer legend Frank Farian for many years, getting to know everything on the mixing desk that you could tweak. And he gathered more analogue hardware than others have plugins installed, and he got to know it as well. When he felt he was ready to become an artist himself, he knew exactly what to do with the ideas he had in mind. Transferring his overground work into underground output, his aliases since the early nineties read like an inventory of German electronic music: Metazone, Zoon, Phobia, and especially Pink Elln. Then, he put the full stop behind his first name and started releasing tracks that refined the live approach to his broad variety of music between Acid, Ambient and Techno, to reduced but jacking grooves that display as much attention to detail as they do to floor impact and became an integral part of the defining sounds emanating from Germany to rule clubs worldwide since the turn of the millennium. Since then Tobias’ experience continues through multiple collaborations with artists he produces or remixes or through collaborative or solo projects in which he composes and performs. And that’s what drives me to the album angle of SKIN..
I must confess that I didn’t know Tobias Freund’s work before the discovery of this album, (No offence intended) but I immediately fell in love with the way he portrayed the voice of the Argentinean singer Barbie Williams, an artist who has something very glamorous that gently reminds me of Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet . So, of course, I got interested in the path of Tobias Freund. Taking into account that the wide diversity of musical genres he explored during his career doesn’t sound like what he offers with the SKIN album, the production, composition and arrangement of the current release, which I would describe as a minimalist Trip-Hop / Ambient-Drone genre, shows us the high level of professionalism that Tobias Freund has established over the years through his many experiences. From a purely musical point of view and speaking of SKIN, I consider the title Movements and Codes on this album as one of the best tracks of this 2019 year. As he succeeded in doing with Barbie Williams’ voice on this track, one of Tobias Freund’s great skills is undoubtedly the ability to sharpen a rough diamond to reveal its full brightness.
Recent Arts on Youtube