A talk with Jane Penny, TOPS’s vocalist, at her home back in Montreal
Joëlle Dubois’s art contemplates the use of (social) media and technology in contemporary society. As our lives gradually become more robotic, Joëlle and I embraced the conversational possibilities of our time and took out our computers for a Skype conversation on painting, online reality and the importance of nature.
Interview by Valerie Steenhaut
Photos by Tiny Geeroms
Are there any objects you like to surround yourself with while working?
Plants are very precious to me. They’re always present in my room and in every piece of art I create. We live in such a digital age, we sometimes forget how important nature actually is. We used to have a lot more trees in cities, for example, but now everything tends to become more industrial. That’s why, in my paintings, I like to contrast new-media related topics with the use of plants.
We live in such a digital age, we sometimes forget how important nature actually is
Are media and technology turning us into robots?
In a way, yes. We live in a world where people almost get run over by cars because they’re trying to catch Pokémons with their phone. I got hooked on the Pokémon game for a while too, even though the app is kind of creepy as it can track your every move on an actual map. Like, your phone knows everything about you, Siri even recognises your voice. They can create a digital world on that tiny screen, and, probably, reality and technology will become even more intertwined in the future. We won’t have any private place any more, and I believe people need their secrets to stay human. Sometimes I wonder where all of this will take us, and I’m curious as well.
Most of us are inseparable from our phones, iPads, computers… which ultimately flattens us as human beings. When I’m walking on the street I try to catch people’s gaze and smile. But when I do, people sometimes look at me like I’m weird. I’m not claiming I’m immune to new media; I also catch myself entangled into it, and it bothers me. That’s why I consider painting and doing things manually as an outlet. You’re doings things, you create something.
I also think it’s important to remember it’s all fake in the end. Online we present the best version of ourselves. I have a lot of friends watching a lot of beautiful women online, constantly. We’re surrounded by these perfect creatures, and we forget how many filters they actually use.
How can we fight this force?
Strong female characters are my heroes. That’s why I use them in my work so often. Women who expose themselves physically, sexually, but choose to do so. You can find a lot of feminist movements on Instagram, for example if you think about the female protesters posting pictures of their bloody period underwear, or the ones painting their armpit hair in flashy colours. The first pictures of these women were removed, but they unchained a series of online action by women who want to share the same message. I mean, female body hair and period blood are such natural things… Maybe it’s nature that’ll save us all.
Selected an approved by t-heater