Florence To // Florence To se prédestinait à une carrière de styliste haute couture et est aujourd’hui Visual Artist réalisant des installations, créant des visuels pour des shows music live. Après avoir côtoyé le monde de la mode avec des collaborations pour notamment Alexander McQueen, Florence To travaille aujourd’hui avec des artistes comme Speedy J et l’anglaise trip hop à la voix envoûtante FKA Twigs -

Nous vous avions déjà présenté un de ses projets Fovea en février 2013 , nous sommes ravies de vous proposer aujourd’hui une interview avec cette grande Artiste qui nous ravit de ses créations minimalistes se jouant des espaces les habillant d’ombres & de lumières.
PS / Cette interview est uniquement en anglais !

——- BREAKING NEWS———LIVE VISUAL SET FRIDAY 30th of May 21.00 > 06.00 ————————————-

 Florence To présentera son dernier projet en collaboration avec la marque de sound system Bowers & Wilkins lors du Festival Primavera Sound Festival Vendredi 30 mai 2014

Un visual set qui se déroulera dans un dôme 360° et à voir en streaming à cette adresse www.bowers-wilkins.co.uk/events/sound-system/Primavera

—— DERNIERE MINUTE———LIVE VISUAL SET VENDREDI 30 MAI 21.00 > 06.00  ————————————————

Hello Florence ! Can you please introduce yourself ? Who are you ? Where are you from ?

I am an installation artist based in London and I design/produce installations and visuals for live music shows.

What is your educational background ?

I studied textiles and fashion at the Scottish Borders then went on to study a masters in textiles at the Glasgow school of Art. I then focused in tailoring for 6 years.

How did you shift from textile design to audiovisual installations and mapping ?

I went to work with Alexander McQueen after I finished my masters and realized it wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing anymore. So I moved back to Glasgow and freelanced in tailoring. I had another part time job and was getting to know the music and art scene. Eventually some friends and I started a monthly music night at the Centre of Contemporary arts and I was experimenting with making video and finding old films that I wanted people to see.

My first visual was an acetate grid I made from left over materials I found at my work and I projected a black and white film on top…which created images on the different coloured acetates. I filmed it with a cheap 90s camera and projected the finished piece at the event.

I had no access to any film editing software or visual applications so this was my first approach in knowing how to edit film. I continued to work using transparent materials and went on to work with the Subclub in Glasgow 6 months later using their space as a canvas.

The space was very limited, restricted with low ceilings, pillars everywhere and not one single white wall. This helped me learn how to work with the restrictions in space and how to use the deformities as part of it. I have a minimalistic approach and usually take things out rather than put more in.

Is there any likeness / similarity ?

There are a lot of similarities, I was a tailor for 6 years and measuring bodies and patterns was my daily routine. I suppose when I approach any project the measurements is the first thing I work on. The only difference is that I design for architectural space now where as before it was for the human body.

I think problem solving in any artistic field are similar to each other.

Do you think one day you’ll be able to make a project inspired by those both passions ?

I don’t keep up to date with the fashion industry anymore so it would be interesting to work with a designer on an installation for a catwalk show. I experimented combining my visual work and clothes I designed in the past but at the end I felt combine both can lose focus on the actual garment and I’m still very fond of the classic approach.

Even when screen printing my graphics on the garment, it still didn’t look right. It would be great to have time to find a particular aesthetic that would work.

From now you seems working more and more on scenography. What was your last project ? Can you explain a little bit of your creative process?

My last project was with a musician in London called FKA Twigs, she is a contemporary dancer as well so we motion tracked her body using the kinect. The first show was an experiment but hopefully we can develop it later this year. I’ve mainly been designing portable installation for live shows which involves sourcing materials that work with light. I use the basic shapes to create functional layouts for different shows so that they can be moved around depending on the size of space.

My work involves using darkness so how the light travels on to these materials is an important detail with much appreciation into the depth in light and textures it reveals. The light is created by using simple vectors and gradients which is then animated by the low frequencies within its dimensions but depending on the project I sometimes do some filming for textures.

My process involves thinking of the function first as the installations I build are usually portable for ease of transport.

We are fond of your V19 project. What has been your inspiration ? Which tools and technologies have been used for it?

I made that installation for a small visual/performance arts festival. It was aimed towards families who wanted to introduce their kids towards non conventional arts, children as young as 3 where running around, it was really nice to see their reactions and enthusiasm.

I mainly based it on different folding techniques from the floor curving towards the wall so this could encourage the people to explore the space.  

I really enjoyed the festival, it introduced me to performers such as Jaap Blonk who was reading/singing his poetry. The installation was used as an ambience before the performance. I controlled the visuals through feeding the sound from the mic and controlling simple layers created through after effects.

Most people think my work is based on codes, I’m not a very good coder and I work mainly with Illustrator.

How are you working with the other artists ? who’s doing what ? how do you proceed to get things done ?

When I work with an artist, they send me the music they are working on and I design an installation that I feel works with it. The idea is to create a visual installation to be part of the composition. It varies with each artists, I try to work on a different approach each time.

/ ) | from Florence To on Vimeo.

For example when I worked with Yosi Horikawa (vidéo ci-dessus et sur le site de Florence), I had spent some time filming around different times of day within nature as Yosi’s music has a lot of field recordings and you could feel that in his music. His samples of children skipping, running and nature aspects creates a strong focus on time, for me it felt like travelling in non chronological order.

But that’s my interpretation, we wanted to create an emotional impact with the audience so it felt right to work this way. The other half of my work, I visit spaces to design shows to work with their layout.

You work seems to involve a lot of technological aspects in order to create emotion. Can you tell us a word about how do you tailor your visual design ?

How the visuals move is quite important, when I began working with graphics I was always questioning the presentation from still to animation. With a still you are perfecting one frame, when it comes to animating, there are thousands. I consider movement and light depth (as mentioned before) as an important element in my work.

Fovea was my first experiment into researching how light effects our perception of darkness and how our senses react through the eye fovea.

In this project I was testing out different motion techniques and using the analytics tests by the Austrian Biophysics Professor Selig Hecht on Dark Adaptation.

Fovea from Florence To on Vimeo.

I suppose you can compare it to a dance composition, there’s a different emotion created through different dances. Using simple abstract forms help develop more complex movements.

Most of the time you find new ways to adapt these visuals during the performance so each show there is a development in knowing how to better the overall show.

What’s next for you ?

I am still working on installations with Speedy J and at the moment I am currently planning a collaboration with Boston musician Ricardo Donoso.


Visual Speedy J x Florence To

x.r.02 from Florence To on Vimeo. 

I’ve been making short animation with sound artists recently as my work has not involved much on creating animation to be used as video before so I’ve been experimenting with other artists where I create the animation first and they design the sound…usually it would be the opposite when I work on an audio visual installation.

It’s interesting changing dynamics, you learn how to improve the weaker aspects of your knowledge. I’m still very much think as a tailor…I think you can tell that in my work…how everything is carefully measured out to fit.

I try to keep up with technology but I don’t think I could work with just using a computer, the building of installation allows me to think with physical forms.

From which other females artists do you feel close and why ?

When I was studying fashion, I came across this book in the textile mill at the university. There was a book sale and this book changed my way of approaching design and forms.

It was by Rowena Kostellow on visual relationships, everything she had spoke about about how we experience forms clicked with everything I was trying to understand especially using new expressions for traditional 2-D/3-D creative processes. At the time, I was learning about the relationships with patterns and the body, trying to push the more sculptural element in my work without compromising the wearablitiy and functionality of the conventional wearer.

Rowena’s methods on abstract visual relationships taught me how to appreciate and use simple elements as a complex tool.

What is your motto ?

How you start is how you finish.

Do you have a piece of advice for girls who wish to start a career into music or any artistic field?

I use to be quite ignorant on noticing the balance of genders in the industry especially working as a visual artist in the music field.

This had a positive effect on me however as I do notice now but if I did early in my career I probably would have more worries and arguments. You need to be aware of your strengths in what you do and be confident in it and that takes experience and time in what your doing. I knew what I wanted and I went for it.

I was worried financial wise when I began as I grew up with a single parent so I’ve been working since I was 13 and going to school which wasn’t easy, so I suppose that helped build my perseverance. Making that transition into something that can be unstable in the beginning is a hesitant thing but you just need to believe it’s going to work.
I think anyone can start a career in the artistic field if they really want it and willing to work hard for it.

Without hard work you won’t get anywhere. I’m a strong believer that hard work pays off with the right positive attitude.

Thank you Florence !

Interview réalisée par Alice Cornélus