Strata is a multimodal publication and work of art created for Oral Site. A cross-section of Julien Bruneau’s artistic practice, it is also an instantiation of that very practice. It is both a process of thought and its material outcome. How can the heterogeneous languages of practice be brought to speak in their manifold guises?

Strata is an invitation to wander around in Julien Bruneau’s universe, guided by the composition. Since 2010 this Brussels-based visual artist and choreographer has developed a collective research practice under the banner phréatiques. It revolves around the practices of drawing, dance (physical exploration) and philosophy (‘verbal thinking’ or the construction of thought objects via writing or speech). These practices form the basis for multimodal scores, providing constraints for a group of collaborators to compose their attention, to negotiate and observe this channeling of experience, and also to report these aspects as part of the process.
spacespThe various scores developed by Julien Bruneau and collaborators in phréatiques can be practised in a workshop context or on stage in front of an audience. They result in various traces and products, such as drawings, texts or audio-documents, which in turn give rise to new scores or alternative compositions ready to attune people’s senses. They’re used for the development of (artistic) practices, languages and mythologies idiosyncratic to a group of collaborators. And here they find a new instantiation in Strata.

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The landscape of Strata is paved with reflections on practice and with stories that carve a personal mythology out of cultural readymades. Its form is particular: all the materials are mapped out on a single, sheer endless plane. It concerns not so much a juxtaposition as a layering of elements. In their overlapping, they appear like bits and pieces of reality mutually slicing, rubbing and editing one another. At some points though, Strata prompts you to migrate into different planes, for instance to visit one of phréatiques’ collective thinking spaces.
spacespEntering Strata, you cannot quite gain overview, but rather observe and discover things in proximity. It is an anthropological attitude, also central to phréatiques, in which scores are used to investigate various slices of reality: the study of cultural practices, languages and mythologies through participation. Strata is specific in that it stimulates a complicity with the most elusive element of Julien Bruneau’s practice: his observant gaze, vigilant to yet murky constellations of things and affects that might at some point snap into sense or emerge as a scene. Travelling in the wake of someone’s gaze evokes a central gesture of phréatiques: redrawing. Walking about Strata, it is a matter of (re-)tracing pathways, re-enacting and remediating scores, and ultimately expanding both their constraints and the behaviour they afford.

Until now, several publications on Oral Site have explored oral and multimodal forms of documentation. Strata is the first work of art presented on Oral Site. Not only has Julien Bruneau composed and signed it, he has also made OLGA – Oral Site’s software that allows for multimodal and time-based compositions of various carriers – into the very medium of his publication, exploring and expanding its formal possibilities until they spoke in their materiality.
spacespVisiting Strata is indeed not unlike playing an instrument, for the slide or click of your index finger on the mouse pad ties your corporeal place behind the computer to the imaginary but highly sensorial space unfolding on the screen in front of you. Even if some of the images, sounds and texts included in Strata are traces or documents of an artistic practice that has moved on in the meantime, the index finger also reminds you of Strata’s deictic structure, asking time and again: How do these juxtaposed materials speak to you, here and now? And in this relational setting it also points in the reverse direction: Where do you find yourself?

Jeroen Peeters, May 2014



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Julien Bruneau (B) is a dancer, choreographer and visual artist based in Brussels. He graduated from La Cambre (Brussels) in 2002 and completed a master in choreography at the Theaterschool (Amsterdam Master of Choreography) in June 2014.

At the intersection of movement, drawing and language, his work investigates the dynamic interplay between interiority and collectivity. As a whole, it addresses the interactions between the many layers of our being into the world (personal and impersonal forces, materiality and thought, past and present) And more importantly, it aims at invoking the ungraspable flow that animates these layers and percolates through them.

Since 2010, he gives his research the name phréatiques (aquifers) a project developed with the collaboration of M.Dalinsky, A. Llaurens, L.Myers, S. Si Ahmed and J. Peeters. In this frame he creates performances and dance pieces, but also drawings and installations shown in exhibition.

His recent work includes the performances some crosscuts of some of our improbable bodies (2014), Meta-Instrument Score (2012), Oracle Score (2011), the on-line publication Strata (2014), the event Enchanting Scores (workshop and discursive event – 2014), the in-situ installation Retrait (2013) and the exhibition Magnitudes (2011).

He often collaborates with people from outside the dance field - music, visual arts, photography, performed poetry, philosophy or anthropology - for set pieces, improvisation projects and researches (notably Frederic Fourdinier, Arnaud Halloy, Yann Leguay a.k.a. Phonotopy, Jonathan Philippe, Isabelle Stengers, Mohanad Yaqubi, Hugues Warin.) He collaborated with Stefan Dreher, Lilia Mestre, Christine Quoiraud, Anouk Llaurens and Claude Schmitz as performer and with Norberto Llopis Segarra and Anouk Llaurens as artistic adviser.

In recent years, Bruneau’s work has been supported in many ways by Sarma and Bains Connective. Other partners include De Pianofabriek, Kaaistudio’s, Netwerk, Les Halles, Roma Europa Festival, Vooruit, Workspacebrussels and WP Zimmer.