Her works draw upon personal biography to produce playful and psychologically charged narratives that investigate the interactions between the self and technology and the emergence of augmented-selves and bodies. Her work is often meant to challenge the senses; elements are juxtaposed and transformed to create eerie and whimsical assemblages in which the body becomes a site for physical and spiritual exchanges with technology.
In her 2017 virtual reality work, HanaHana 花華, Mousset immerses users in a surreal, post-apocalyptic universe in which a gleaming sun beats down on a blood-red lake, desolate sandy islands populated with monumental totemic ruins. Emerging from this landscape are chains of women’s arms and hands of varying sizes and skin tone. As users explore this world, they can generate their own hallucinatory constructions of sprouting limbs. The work is a playful, yet harrowing journey that explores the ongoing multiplication of our digital-selves and the possibility of extending it to the physical body. As the pharmacological capacity to technologically augment our bodies or even self-replicate becomes a contemporary reality, HanaHana 花華 provides a grotesque, at times fetishistic and beautiful experience questioning the implications of such developments on our mind, identity, body and senses.
The work is inspired by the Japanese manga series One Piece, in which the character Nico Robin developed the power to endlessly reproduce her body parts after consuming the magic Hana Hana fruit (also called the devil fruit). HanaHana 花華 was initially prototyped in collaboration with engineer Naëm Baron and features an ethereal soundtrack composed by Joe Williams. It has since evolved into a multi-player interactive artwork in which users in different locations can interact with each other as they shape and mutate the world around them. A persistent sandbox, each user’s creations remain in place, forming a virtual exquisite corpse in which individual self-expression gives way to collective experimentation. Mousset’s work presents the inter-relation of body and environment, in which a sense of dissociation and disembodiment propels us to perpetually reach, transform and connect.
Mélodie Mousset (b. 1981 Abu Dhabi, UAE) Lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland