Simon Senn is a Geneva-based videographer and visual artist whose work explores group dynamics and individual behaviour within specific contexts. His recent work engages with new technologies and interrogates their effect on us. Simon has been invited to present two works and host his workshop for children “How to become a cool unicorn” during this year’s National Arts Festival in Makhanda, South Africa from 24-29 June 2023. In addition to this, he will join South African choreographer Nelisiwe Xaba for a panel discussion about dance in 2D.
“Be Arielle F” is Simon’s first work developed for the stage. In this digital conference that doubles as a demonstration and confession, Simon demonstrates how the virtual and real world are not always in opposition, revealing the unexpected entanglements between technology, representation, gender, and law.
The work revolves around Simon’s experience of purchasing a true-to-life digital replica of a woman’s body, which he “inhabits” through 3D sensors and virtual reality glasses. The experience is moving. Who is this woman? Can he do anything he likes with this digital body? What about the new and enjoyable sensuality this virtual form offers him? He goes in search of the woman whose body he has “virtually” inhabited and together they begin a discussion (that continues today) investigating this third digital body that exists between them. Arielle is now part of the project and is present in the show. In parallel, Simon talks to lawyers about new technologies and consent, and to a psychologist to explore his own feelings of gender dysphoria. Onstage Simon conveys this unsettling experience and opens up a dialogue with the audience.
“dSimon” is an artistic performance based on the experience of artist Simon Senn and media designer Tammara Leites while working with an AI writer. dSimon, a digital version of Simon Senn, is an implementation of GPT-3 using Simon’s personal data as prompt. Simon begins to dialogue with dSimon, discussing various topics of interest to both of them. dSimon displays a surprising and perspicuous knowledge of Simon’s thoughts and desires, and even gives him good advice. Tammara and Simon find themselves unsettled and their relationship with their creation thrown off balance… The performance “dSimon” is the account of this ongoing investigation, with the participation of its three protagonists.
Simon Senn, born in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1986, lives in Geneva. Simon is a visual artist and studied fine arts at the Haute école d’art et de design in Geneva and has completed a master’s degree at Goldsmiths College in London. He is represented by the Nicola Von Senger gallery in Zurich, and his work “L’hôtel des sapins” is part of the Kunsthaus Zürich collection. His work has been shown at the Liverpool Biennial, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and the Kunstmuseum Bern, among others, and has received several awards (Swiss Performance Art Award, Swiss Art Awards, Kiefer Hablitzel Award). At first glance, Simon’s work might appear to be speaking out against a certain kind of injustice. However, his work sometimes reveals a more ambiguous approach that explores aporias rather than articulating criticism. Even if his videos or installations are usually based on a certain reality, fiction is often mixed in with them. “Be Arielle F” is his first suggestion for the stage, with which he received the second Premio sponsorship award for performing arts in 2019.