marco brambilla on fragmenting 'nude descending' across maison margiela's soho store

marco brambilla on fragmenting 'nude descending' across maison margiela's soho store

at its crosby street store in soho, new york, maison margiela presents an 11-monitor video installation of nude descending a staircase no. 3 by celebrated video artist marco brambilla. on view from now through july 6, 2021, the artwork forms a contemporary digital reinvention of nude descending a staircase, no. 2 — marcel duchamp’s 1912 masterpiece that sought to be a static representation to movement. combining both elements of cubism and futurism, the composition depicts motion by successive superimposed images. for nude descending a staircase no. 3, brambilla has reconfigured and transformed the original painting into a moving panorama, depicting multiple animated figures cascading down infinite, invisible stairs.

 

‘as a time-based (video) re-creation, I focused on the reconfiguration of shapes, gestures and movement over the duration of the piece,’ brambilla shares in an interview with designboom. ‘the figures become progressively more deconstructed as they cascade down the imaginary stairs.’

marco brambilla on fragmenting 'nude descending' across maison margiela's soho store
nude descending a staircase no.3 at maison margiela’s soho store | image by nick d’emilio

 

 

the installation at maison margiela’s soho store marks the first time brambilla’s artwork has been presented as an indoor installation fragmented across 11 screens. stacked from floor to ceiling, each screen displays asynchronous passages of nude descending a staircase no.3, adding ‘a new dimension to the work,’ brambilla says. last december, maison margiela projected the artwork on the façade of its future flagship store in the miami design district, expected to open this summer. ‘I’ve always envisaged this work as having a life beyond the gallery or museum,’ brambilla says. ‘it is energetic and dynamic’.

 

designboom spoke with marco brambilla about the reconfiguration of shapes, gestures and movements for nude descending a staircase no.3, the technical challenges it presented, and its dynamic display at maison margiela.

 

designboom (DB): in collaborating with maison margiela, did you discover any synergies between your creative philosophies and theirs?

 

marco brambilla (MB): the concept of destruction in nude descending a staircase no.3 is central and directly connected to margiela’s creative philosophy. duchamp once said he forced himself to contradict his own self in order to avoid conforming to his taste — that sentiment is echoed by john galliano and martin margiela himself.

marco brambilla on fragmenting 'nude descending' across maison margiela's soho store
nude descending a staircase no.3 (detail), courtesy of marco brambilla

 

 

DB: how does the installation’s fragmentation across the soho store affect the experience of viewing the work? what atmosphere does it create?

 

MB: the installation in the soho concept store uses a fragmented ‘canvas’ with video screens arranged in what you could call a dynamic pose. the effect is that the illusion of movement in the painting is further emphasized both by my animation and the presentation format itself. it is pure cubism. I think the intersections of figures between each display panel add a new dimension to the work.

 

DB: this work has also been projected at maison margiela in miami, and the oculus world trade center in new york. is it important for you that your work can be experienced by the public, and engage with people outside of the typical gallery setting?

 

MB: absolutely, I’ve always envisaged this work as having a life beyond the gallery or museum. it is energetic and dynamic, and more effectively reflects and engages with its urban surroundings in sometimes unpredictable public settings.

 

nude descending a staircase no.3 at maison margiela’s soho store | video by nick d’emilio

 

 

DB: duchamp’s nude descending a staircase, no.2 sought a solution to the challenge of depicting three-dimensional movement in painting. what were the challenges in translating a static image into a moving one?

 

MB: you could say the element of time is in the original painting as it was in the eadweard muybridge photography which inspired duchamp. as a time-based (video) re-creation, I focused on the reconfiguration of shapes, gestures and movement over the duration of the piece. the figures become progressively more deconstructed as they cascade down the imaginary stairs.

 

technically, it was quite difficult to create the seemingly random shapes that form the figures. I used motion capture to record the movement of real people walking down stairs then machine learning to analyze this data and apply the cubist shapes to it.

marco-brambilla-maison-margiela-designboom-X

nude descending a staircase no.3

 

DB: what do you hope audiences take away from the work? what do you hope to convey with this homage to duchamp?

 

MB: duchamp’s nude descending caught my imagination when I was very young — like max ernst and victor brauner, those influences stayed with me. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to pay homage to this work and have so many people experience it.

 

DB: in general, what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your artistic practice?

 

MB: the way in which we experience images has changed so dramatically in the last decade. I think the interaction between the work and the viewer is more alive and reciprocal than ever. this challenges me to find opportunities for my work to be more engaging, dynamic and subversive.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by @marcobrambillastudio

 

 

 

project info:

 

artist: marco brambilla
on view:
may 5 – july 6, 2021
monday through saturday from 11am – 7pm; sunday from 12pm – 6pm
location: maison margiela, 1 crosby street, new york

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