Angle Mort, By and For the Automobile

Angle Mort, By and For the Automobile

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Bumper stickers, decorative furniture that hijacks car parts, magical aluminum Christmas trees… Art objects that drew our attention to the work of Arthur Pocheron, from the Angle Mort design studio. And rather than telephone, or continue to exchange on Instagram, we met, at Local, to better understand the essence of his art.

Machinistic – Hi Arthur, we’ve just spent two days here, can you tell our readers what we’ve been up to?

Arthur – Absolutely! I came back with my crate, I put all the necessary equipment in the trunk; because I do foundry work. It’s a pleasure for me to move around, so I try to keep my equipment as nomadic as possible. I’ve already created parts in a junkyard, for example, amidst cars awaiting destruction. And today, I’ve come here to demonstrate the process, from recycling, the harvesting of aluminum resources from automobiles, to the revalorization of what is considered waste.

M – That’s what’s interesting about your approach: you recycle parts that come from cars?

A – That’s it! I try to intercept pieces at the moment of their destruction, to revalue them and reincarnate them in another form, for a second life. What I do is based on the automobile, for the automobile. When you melt your piece, it loses its identity. It may seem anecdotal to say that I collect resources from car wrecks, I could just as easily collect them from building sites, but for me it’s important. History, added value and finish matter

M – Is that why you develop different objects?

A – In part. Sometimes I keep it raw, sometimes I polish it, and I find that the degree of finish also brings a different reading to the object. The lamp, for example, is a form of minimalism. It’s a Megane reflector recovered from an abandoned crate in a parking lot. I had to make a lamp base that would adapt to the available resources. So the idea is to make do with what we’ve got, and put the design at the service of the existing resource, hence the simplicity and efficiency of this system. The foot will stay the same no matter where the next reflectors I find come from, but I can adapt the arm. There’s a form of brutalism here, because it’s out of the mould as it is. What I like about brutalism is that it’s authentic, not overrated.

M – While your trees are worked like jewels?

A – It’s a parallel with fir trees, which can be seen as automotive jewelry, yes. In contrast to what I’ve just explained about the lamp, or the ashtray we’ve got here too, it’s almost bling-bling. I like the personification of the car, which can be dressed up or repaired. On top of that, every tree has its own variations. The molding process has a surprise effect. I work with sand, which compacts and holds its shape. But with each piece, the mold is destroyed, so each piece is different. Even if you want to do it again, it’s not possible. At any given moment, the mold is badly filled, there are accidents along the way, critical moments like with the temperature, the mold collapsing. It’s a surprise every time, and it’s often more defined than you’d expect in terms of detail. You have to accept it to turn it into a strength, to make the process profitable. For example, the fir tree we made together, which gave the weave to the fir tree, is an E30 headrest, you can see the weave of the velvet. We find the character in another form. The possibilities are endless in this way, and the idea is to take advantage of the resource left by the end-of-life car, to ask what you can do with a speaker grille, a cloth, a hose, a drain plug. Can you use it as a stamp, roll it around, there are lots of ways to interpret the shapes…

M – It’s funny to talk about personifying cars, can you tell us more about that?

A – Yes, it’s a subject that fascinates me. Making the object your own. Some people give names to their cars, but my way is to see it as a living object, with its organs, and to jewel it, repair it and take care of it. And I think it’s necessary to take care of what we have in our daily lives. For example, it’s a bit far-fetched, I admit, but I make aluminum bandages. I was inspired by the missile culture of drifting, with cars that hit a lot and show a lot of makeshift repairs. It’s a sort of thumbing of the nose at all the hype surrounding the flawless, competition-status automobile. The idea of bandages is also to prolong the life of the damaged part and to highlight it. This is what I deal with in practice as a designer, keeping an authenticity and at the same time preserving a certain form of resilience in the automotive object which is quite ecologically punished. I see the automobile as more than just a means of locomotion, with several functions, including an artistic one that blends very well with the mechanical side. It’s a lever I’m putting in place with the launch of my design studio Angle Mort.

Incidentally, there’s a culture in Japan called Kintsugi. The principle is to repair broken ceramic parts with gold solder. Once repaired, this operation, which requires special know-how, makes the part more valuable.

M – As an artist and the head of your design studio, you wear many hats. How did you get here?

A – It was at the Lycée d’arts appliqués in Nevers that I developed a taste for working with my hands. It was a real fire because for three years, I had six hours of drawings a week, and we were shown the different fields of application of design: fashion, design, product… I was more oriented towards the product. I liked the idea of interacting with a human-sized object. Then I did a BTS in industrial design, with little manipulation but theoretically technical. It was necessary, but it frustrated me because we didn’t confront the resource much. For example, we used to design luxury furniture, but it was too hypothetical, it was off the ground, and we couldn’t see the impact of the design on the realization of the piece. There’s often a divide between those who know and those who do, with craftsmen railing against designers. I made up for it at the Beaux-arts de Brest for the practical side, being in the studios as often as possible. You have teams of consultants to help you, and you can work with metal, ceramics etc., and I liked it so much that I did a Master’s degree in Transitional Design there. With a real awareness of how to be a designer today, especially socially speaking. To tell the truth, when I went to school, I originally wanted to do automotive design, but I saw that there were lots of other things on the side. The BTS took me away from that, but somehow I came back to the car, in a more adapted way. And the issues that arose during my Master’s degree brought me back to this milieu, with a more artistic, artisanal and experimental focus.

M – And it was during your Masters that you acquired what you call your cabinet of curiosities?

A – The reason I went back into it as a Master is that in the summer of 2020, when I came out of confinement, I really wanted a BMW E30. But, financially, the only way for me to get one was to buy a new one. I pulled this 318i out of a field on the German border, and the car became the focal point of my master’s degree – in fact, my cabinet of curiosities. I’ve experimented with a lot of things on it. I’ve got to tell you something, too, related to this. I used to ride motocross in a local club. We had the bikes at our disposal, but in return we had to maintain them. As a result, we weren’t just out for the pleasure of driving, and it was at a young age, thanks to that, that I realized that if you took a spade, you had to fix it. And that’s what I did with the E30, I probably spent too much time on it. Really, I saw myself screwing up my studies, because I was doing my master’s but I had to take care of the E30. Fortunately, at Beaux-arts you can do what you want. And since my diploma had an ecological denomination, I came back with my 80’s crate, on the pretext that it could have ended up as a wreck at the bottom of a field to be polluted, but I repaired it and I’m not a customer of the current production which is surely problematic.

M – An E30 is one hell of a piece of sheet metal, how did you come to use aluminum?

A – I concentrated on aluminium because it’s found in so many cars, the material is interesting and the casting process is fascinating. There’s something magical about the material. I’d never seen molten metal before I did it myself. By the way, my materials are also DIY and recycled. I’d like to see it evolve, regularizing things, but at the same time keeping room for the unexpected and discovery. That’s what’s hard about being self-taught. For example, I met an artisan foundryman in Finistère, spent a day with him and that was it. The rest were questions to which I provide my own answers. The fact that I didn’t have any training in foundry means that I don’t have a straitjacket, because if a foundryman saw what I was doing, he’d freak out. At first, I’d go to the beach and mix sand with bentonite, a dry clay, and make my first creations that way.

M – Was it during your initiatory road trip that you met this foundryman?

A – No, he wasn’t part of the road trip, but I’ll tell him! At the end of my first year of the Master’s program, I had to do an internship. I really didn’t want to go to a design office or studio, to be cooped up all summer. Tell you what, I’d just redone my car, and I wanted to meet people. Use the e30 as a tool to satisfy my curiosity. So for a month I did a loop in France to meet people involved in the craft industry. From Jura to Saint-Etienne, Burgundy and Honfleur. I met a blacksmith, then a designer, ceramists and a stained glass artist. Each for a week. It was the fire, there was no link between them all, otherwise these are skills that are quite historic. Blacksmiths, you know, they’ve been around for ages. These are? I wanted to understand the issues facing these people in 2023. I mean, today you go to AliExpress, Amazon, and you order. When I was there, we made a wood splitter, a tool for making wooden facades and roofs. You go online, you get the tool for thirty bucks. So how does the craftsman position himself against this? But the guy, he does custom work, he’ll work on ergonomics. And in real life, it’s a powerful influence when you’re working. To have a real tool in the art you make, in your gesture. It’s also about knowing that you’re working locally, with a real service. There’s a kind of cycle, a local self-sufficiency, just like in the old days. Now we have access to everything from one day to the next, which is great fun, but it’s at the expense of other things. So during this trip I didn’t see a foundryman, but it was necessary for me to project myself as a designer / self-production craftsman; is there a world in which this can work? And now I’m launching Angle Mort, where we maintain a relationship with the authentic object.

M – Is that where you made the stained glass window we see in E30?

A – That’s it! I spent a week with a stained-glass artist. And on the last day, I had the opportunity to make a piece for myself: I needed a stained-glass window in my crate. It bathes the cabin in light when the sun is shining, it’s so beautiful. And above all, it’s a testament to the road trip, to travel, and I think it’s cool to think that by putting this know-how into a car in an unexpected way, it reflects the way I see craftsmanship and the car, you can hybridize a lot of things. And I like the idea that my car, which isn’t in great condition, is interesting because of all these little details.

M – You were telling me about an artist who inspires you, I can’t remember the name, do you want to talk about him?

A – It’s probably Olivier Peyricot, a designer who did a lot of work in the 2000s. He’s the director of the Cité du Design in Saint-Etienne. The automobile was a subject for him. He was co-director of the Autofiction exhibition, which shows the challenges of the automobile in three parts: birth, industrial influence and end of life. When you think about it, on the scale of humanity, this is recent, it’s what, 120 years old. And to think that there’s such a gap between the first cars and today, makes the object even more beautiful to analyze. It’s a beautiful marker. I don’t speak very well of Olivier’s work, I wouldn’t want to say the wrong thing. But he also questioned the car as a social marker, and through hijacking. He takes a crate, it’s not that it’s a ready made, my definition of ready made being to take an object, take it out of a context and give it the status of a work. Marcel Duchamps, for example, took a urinal, laid it horizontally and turned it into a work of art. Olivier Peyricot is more into research. As a result, the car is a work of art. He recovered more functional cars, beyond communicating an artistic message. In fact, I’ll be exhibiting at Autofiction 2024 in Belgium.

M – Great, we’ll come and see you! What are your plans for the future?

In the evolution of the objects I make, I’d like to finish cars. You can have woodwork, but I’d like to make my knobs, my steering wheels, my dashboard inserts, in the doors… As if you could ask a saddler to make your interior with my finish. You see, at Machine Revival, they do this kind of thing, and I identify a lot with the customization scene, and I’d like to do that.

With Angle Mort, I give momentum to the project. I work with a typographer, and you’re dealing with a lot of things at once when you’re starting up a business, and you have a proportion of creative time that’s diminishing because of administrative tasks. And I’d really like to have a collective. It’s like here, we met on Instagram, I’m coming, and we stacked floors. It’s not academic. We’ve interpreted the know-how together, the people I meet see other things, and that creates a sense of emulation for many. Creatively speaking, it’s essential not to get bogged down. To sum up, I see myself having lots of other ideas, meeting new people, and creating even more!

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