When the internet was born the French artist Anne Horel was watching. In fact, I think it swallowed her. She exists now mostly as images stuck in looped emoji dances that are scattered around the web. Where she goes, rainbow fonts and pizza slices follow, spiraling off the screen in a ditz as they merge with the face of Miley Cyrus or a scene from a Disney movie. This is the labored work of a datamosh queen.
Horel is a force of mass creation. If the rapid speed of the internet encourages us all to consume at a high rate, then Horel is right at the center of it, gobbling up every meme as they emerge. She chews vigorously on the internet’s ever-changing icons like a fresh-tasting piece of gum, pulling them all together in animation, and spitting out the resulting bricolage back into the online mass. She’s a skilled agent in reusing and repurposing any media that is flung at her. This, she says, comes natural.
Growing up on a variety of screens—watching television, playing videogames, using the internet—has caused Horel to impregnate her art with a type of hyper-eclecticism. “That eclecticism is what I think is symptomatic of my generation,” Horel says. “But also the principle of serendipity, trans-border and mutant imagery. The culture of moving images. Popular culture. Transcultured images. ” The screen serves as a single window yet it provides many views. Horel remembers watching Japanese, French, and English television shows as a child, which opened her up to embracing the variety she has espoused. The internet only wedged a crowbar into that growing interest and burst it wide open.
Her process is fast and fizzes with energy, hence she is best suited to the immediacy of distribution that social media allows: you’ll find her art on Vine, on Facebook, on Tumblr, on Twitter, on Instagram, on YouTube. Every social media outlet is a “self-curated art gallery” to Horel, and one that allows her to connect with an audience and other artists without barrier, while also suiting the format of her digital collages. Out of them all, Vine is Horel’s favorite, mostly due to it encouraging users to match images with music, and to do it all in six seconds or less. Appeasing this strict time-demand is how Horel practices her art fusions every day. That frequency also probably explains her varied and commonplace inspirations for her Vines: “an outfit, a place, the collision between images, a song, a show I’m watching, a mood, an urge for pizza…” There is a lot of pizza.
Horel seems to grind up against an inexorable urgency. She doesn’t let an idea stew before considering it ready to work on—she’ll blast it all out in minutes and move swiftly on to the next micro-project. She has no time and must see everything as a canvas to be turned gaudy and modern. She once made the naked woman in Titian’s 1538 oil painting “Venus of Urbino” wink and stick out a pink tongue, while the No One Under Eighteen symbol emoji spins between her legs. This is a recurring motion; to bring classical art alive with a childish vision borne by the low art of computer culture.
Telling of Horel’s scrambled approach is that she says she sees art as “movement” rather than something to be pinned down and categorized. I ask if she considers her style to fit in with the ethos of vaporwave, in which the icons and images of hyper-capitalism are often mixed with nostalgia for the internet of the ’90s, sometimes also embracing a chaotic, warped, and brightly colored glitch aesthetic. She agrees there are similiarities and that she enjoys vaporwave for its comforting throwbacks to previous decades. But she has her own, separate ideas: “I consider myself a ‘plurimaniac,’ so references are more tools to me, a sort of palette. I like to be free from any label. I don’t belong to any art movement.”
Header image: Not ur princess by Anne Horel