THE CYBERPUNK ARTIST
Take the blue pill and the story ends. Take the red pill we show you Yann Minh’s world.
The building looks like it’s straight out of a dystopian sci-fi movie. On the last floor, Yann Minh contemplates the view from his balcony. Today, he won’t leave home. He‘ll work from there, in a room designed for his creative work, filled with sci-fi books and figurines.
Tiny glasses on his head and enthusiastic, Yann Mink is sitting on his “Nooscaphe” — a self made leather sofa with a robotic arm holding his computer. He puts on his NekoMimi, a cat-ear-shaped-headband connected to his brain by two electrodes. Yes, a NekoMimi is a cat-ear-shaped-headband. Yann Minh is a cyberpunk artist: he loves to make up his own stuff. So he gives them made-up names as well. “It measures my brain activity in real time. When I’m meditating, they droop. When I’m brisk, they make random moves.” He wears his NekoMimi every time he speaks in public or goes to an interview. To him, it’s no new feat, every year he speaks at a dozen of conferences in France and abroad.
Writer, designer, director, Yann Minh is a true multimedia artist. In 1983, he displayed one of his piece of art “Media ØØØ” in the prestigious Centre Pompidou for modern art in Paris. Yann Minh is also a visionary. He is one of the first artists in the world to have created 3D models pieces of art: before him, it was fringe.
Among his previous work, nothing comes close to what he refers to as his masterpiece: a virtual world on several floors that he calls the “Noomuseum”. Started in 1997, it’s a world full of references: from books he wrote to landmarks of robots history, it’s a melting pot of cyber culture and art.
To explore his own world, Yann Minh has hacked a Wii controller to control his avatar. The whole world has the look and feel of the first 3D video games. He’s the only one to actually understand how to navigate his world. “Let’s go to the third portal on the left, then second on the right to reach the arch” says Yann Minh.
His world is gigantic. So rich and lively it’s close to being a full universe, with its own symbolic and set of rules. As he takes us down a corridor, a creature appears suddenly. It’s “NøøPhidi”a, a monster blending Greek mythology, Japanese folklore and African traditions that he made-up. “All my artworks are metaphors of our journey, the journey that all artist go through in a dematerialized world.”
We’re entering portal five. The light is dim. This place seems special to Yann Minh. It sure is: this is his cybersex gallery. Cybersex encompasses much more to him than it does to most of us. For the artist, cybersex is very commonplace it’s “whenever you have sexual relations with a tool that amplifies your desire”. “If you’re radical, that’s when you have a relationship with a cybernetic device. But I don’t know any artificial intelligence you can have sex with” says Yann minh. Put simply, for him, sex toys are cybersex.
Cybersex is actually one of his main subjects. Back in the 80s, Yann Minh had designed his first cybersex device: the “cybersex engine”. “It’s a sort of sofa that allows the user to send and receive physical sensations. More than sound and imagery. It’s also about tactile and physical sensations oriented toward sensual and sexual stimuli” says the artist. Currently, his device exists only in his “NooMuseum”, but Yann Minh remains hopeful that he’ll get a prototype off the ground for $60,000.
Terminus! Everything stops. After three hours traveling through his “NooMuseum”, Yann Minh removes his “NekoMimi” and leaves his virtual world to sit back in his “Nooscaphe”. He won’t stay in the real world for too long though. In few hours, he’ll join his friends at a VR Coffeeshop, a monthly meetup on virtual reality. “Virtual worlds don’t have much to envy to the real world. They’re real worlds too. They’re simply a different type of reality.”