Bertrand de Becque on developing his video-mapping art practice

French artist Bertrand de Becque explores the growth of his art practices and their possible future.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Dec 06, 2022

Bertrand de Becque finds his deepest sources of inspiration within nature and in science. He possesses an acutely scientific mind that catches hold of certain scientific phenomenon, never to let go: the infinity of the cosmos, the functioning of atoms, the mechanics of fluids, certain mathematical paradoxes and so on. The visual artist tries to exploit these in different ways within his practice, which has held its preoccupation with scientific principles and natural forces for several years now. He tells STIR that it would be dishonest of him not to mention the first artist who really amazed him, setting him firmly on his path of creative enquiry: it is none other than MC Escher. "His games of perspective, infinite loops, background and shape games, and his geometric patterns have left a lasting mark on me. In nature, I am interested in the different patterns created at different scales by various organisms through growth, diffusion and so on, along with natural phenomena like erosion and weathering. Some of my works attempt to algorithmically recreate the emergence of natural patterns visible in flora and fauna. Finally, all the science behind the capture or distribution of images also fascinates me," says the French artist.

Rock, 2018, video Video: Courtesy of Bertrand de Becque (B2BK)

The understanding the artist developed of our ocular physiognomy, along with the limits of our visual perception, encouraged and enabled him to create many optical illusions within his artworks. Today, he extends this approach with the use of holographic screens, virtual reality helmets and the creation of prototypes of 3D screens without the need for appropriate eyewear.

Boat, 2020, video Video: Courtesy of Bertrand de Becque (B2BK)

The artist discusses his background, saying, "I am a visual artist from France. I was trained in audio-visual and graphic art and I have chosen to specialise in special effects and computer-generated imagery. After 10 years of work in 3D animation movies and the videogame industry, I have decided to fully devote myself to my former predilection: video-mapping and interactive art. Since then, as an independent, I explore new possibilities offered by the latest technological headways as well as innovating approaches of narration. My commitment to developing educational programs for visual arts, the co-foundation and participation in several creative collectives and my contribution with important Parisian museums allows me to bring the scope of my artistic and digital research achievements to the public.” Becque grew up enjoying drawing a great deal, and he regards the early discoveries he made in the realm of perspective to have been revelatory. He recalls having become quite stubborn and adamant in his attempts to represent 3D objects in 2D space. So naturally, when he discovered computer-generated imagery (Pixar in particular at the age of ten), it was love at first sight, and in that moment, he knew exactly what he wanted to do later on in life. He explains, saying “I succeeded in acquiring a version of 3DSMax 2 in 1999 or 2000, when I was 14 or 15-years-old, and began to familiarise myself with this new and promising software. At the same time, I discovered other facets of computer science and digital imaging. I went through the creation of websites, album covers for friends and flyers for parties, which were all very enriching studies that have allowed me to acquire solid bases in various fields, as well as a fairly good understanding of the digital tools of the moment.”

Desk, 2020, video Video: Courtesy of Bertrand de Becque (B2BK)

Becque finds it highly beneficial, if not to say wholly essential, to understand drawing, perspective, photography, anatomy, modelling and stop-motion animation, when one aims to begin a career in 3D. It is apparent from how he introduces himself and expands upon his practice that he is a practitioner who fits within the notions of craftsmanship, if one is to pursue it through digital modes. He discusses his career, telling STIR, “I loved the early years, I really had the feeling of realising my childhood dream. I met some very talented people at work in very relaxed settings. Even today, many of these people are still good friends. Then, as the years went by, I began to grow tired of the overly repetitive tasks that I had to undertake while working on films whose aesthetics were too far from my real graphic aspirations. Realtime technologies becoming more and more powerful really appealed to me at that time. I thus made a detour in my career through some video game studios.”

Sandy, 2021, video Video: Courtesy of Bertrand de Becque (B2BK)

Becque would spend his spare time developing an understanding of Touch-designer, and it completely reshaped the artist’s way of approaching his job. He decided that his works were no longer going to be products that we consume sitting in an armchair, but real experiences to which we will give life with our movements, the sounds that we emit, and so on. “So”, he says, “I continued on this path, as an independent, to design interactive installations, with images and lights… It’s been six years now.”

Profile picture, 2017, photo, Bertrand de Becque | B2BK | Bertrand de Becque | STIRworld
Artist Bertrand de Becque, 2017, photo Image: Courtesy of Bertrand de Becque (B2BK)

Currently, the artist is seriously considering opening a hybrid place with his partner in the near future. He dreams of a place that resembles them and allows them to live from a position of their passions: a place of creation, exhibition and the organisation of short training courses. He feels marked by certain speakers he encountered during his studies, through their passion for the profession and their love of transmission. When the opportunity arose some time ago to become a teacher himself, he jumped at the chance. Becque explains saying, “I have been working in different schools and creative places for 15 years now; for conferences, workshops, or on courses tackling 3D and real-time imagery, photogrammetry and video-mapping. I have recently launched a Youtube channel called The TD Teaching Puppet, and I am planning to upload many tutorials about creating content in TouchDesigner.” However, the artist acknowledges a sense of uncertainty as well, and ends his interview with STIR saying, “My ability to project myself into the future has really deteriorated over the years. I don’t know what caused this: my age, my unstable professional activity, the current societal situation, the environment or a mixture of all these? Let’s see where things go.”

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