To Dimitri Thouzery, connecting art with emotion is everything, and when he brings electronic music into this mix, that’s where the magic happens. Having worked with major artists like Drake, Max Cooper, and Mélodie Zhao, he knows how to encapsulate both his emotions and his digital art to tell a beautiful story. 

Thouzery has always had a love for science, and over time, this translated into his unique black-and-white spheres. “When you look at the stars for example, everybody sees the same thing,” he says, explaining how he wants his art to feel universal and doesn’t want to impose a certain type of feeling on the viewer. 

How did he get to this sense of style, and what more is coming from him?

Portrait of Dimitri Thouzery
Portrait of Dimitri Thouzery

First things first. As a visual artist, how do you work?

I use a program called TouchDesigner. It’s a very versatile software because you can analyze sounds and data in it, as well as connect various sensors and you can create visuals. It’s used for a lot of multimedia purposes. What I love about it, is that there’s so much possibility. When I started working with TouchDesigner years ago, everything was a mystery, and it was a real path to discovering my style and getting to know the software. 

Now I sometimes try out new techniques, to bring chaos into my projects. I love to be surprised by outcomes I didn’t expect. In my generative practice, randomness is the most important part of the process, so sometimes I purposely make mistakes to find out what I like. 

That’s very interesting! How did you get into this form of art?

I’ve always been interested in everything that has to do with computers, but there was a time when I was more into graffiti and street art. I was thinking about how I could bring my street art into the gallery space, and the one thing I struggled with was how I could bring the liveliness of the streets into these more refined spaces. I started creating installations using sensors and water sprinklers to degrade my art inside a gallery. Through this, I discovered TouchDesigner and new media art.

To me, digital art feels more natural, I can be more expressive and emotional in my pieces. I feel like the audience is more interested in how they feel whereas in contemporary art the speech around the art piece is much more valued.

A snapshot of Dimitri Thouzery's Visual 558 - 'Walk through IA'
A snapshot of Dimitri Thouzery’s visual 558 – ‘Walk through IA’

What was the process of finding your style?

It was quite organic. It’s more limited than other programs in the way that it’s real-time, so you always have to manage the computing resources of your computer.  When I started, I didn’t have a huge video projector yet, so that’s how I ended up using black and white the most. It’s how you get the most out of a video projector. Another reason why I went with black and white, is because digital colors feel weird to me. I don’t know why, I’m just not a huge fan of them. 

I’m not someone who takes a step back and thinks about what I feel when I’m creating art or think about the reason why I create it, but I can see patterns and I do see in which direction I am going with my work. I don’t think it’s necessary to be very explicit in this, because I want to give people the space to feel what they want to feel when looking at my art. I don’t want to be the one telling them how they have to feel. I try to create pieces that can speak to anyone, and that might be another reason why I don’t like working with colors, they have cultural meaning. Black and white are universal. When you look at the stars for example, everybody sees the same thing. My work is very much inspired by astronomy and space exploration. 

Recently, you worked on the Genetics LP with TINA TOKIO which came out on STUDIO. How did that collaboration go?

The way I start working usually is by turning my feelings about the music into art, and the first thing that stood out to me was the powerful kick. To me, it felt round, not sharp, and that’s how I came up with the concept of a sphere. I went from there, keeping my usual aesthetics, the black and white. In the end, I created two spheres, moving to the music. The first sphere was synced with the smaller sporadic elements of the music, the second one is more 3D-shaped and moves to the kickbass. 

So, putting emotion into your work is very important to you?

I’m not a huge concept thinker, because I’ve got a background in contemporary art. What I love about digital art and new media art, and the way I express myself in it, is more about exploration. When I work on my projects, I’m not thinking about “I want to build that sphere, because it makes me feel that way, etc…” I will do it more unconsciously. 

What are you working on now?

I always have several projects I’m working on at the same time. Currently, I’m working on a project for a band, and another one I’m working on is a collaboration with several sound designers. That last project is about sleep activity, wherein we create pieces generated by brainwaves. It’s a project that’s been going on for a few years now, and who knows when it will be ready. This is to say that music is not the only topic I create art for, I also like to create art for science. These are the two things I’m interested in.

I love to work on real-life installations, but it’s a bit more difficult in terms of logistics. Most of the time I have to be on-site to set it up, and the audience is limited to the people who can go on-site. With virtual projects, like music clips, you can reach a worldwide audience and work remotely on it.

Both have their advantages, and for sure seeing the audience playing with my art piece live is a feeling I never got with virtual productions.

A snapshot of Dimitri Thouzery's visual 536 - 'A fully generative pointcloud take on the theme of Piranesi prisons'
A snapshot of Dimitri Thouzery’s visual 536 – ‘A fully generative point cloud takes on the theme of Piranesi prisons’

You create a lot of visual art for music artists. To you, what is the relationship between music and art?

When I’m working, I always have music playing. Music has a big impact on my mood and when I create, music can change the direction I’m working in. For me, electronic music can complement digital art especially, because it’s very sharp. I’ve been working on an industrial piece for example, and making it react to sound makes it more alive to me. 

A lot of the promotion of music is on the internet nowadays, and for that, people need visuals. Sometimes that’s a shame because some DJs are only good on TikTok, but at the same time, it makes people more enthusiastic about digital art. 

You say that people are using more visuals to promote their music, but do you also think that they are using more visual art?

I think there’s some sort of boom in digital art going on. One of the factors was the COVID crisis, people couldn’t go to museums and galleries spaces so they started to get interested in virtual art. There’s also the NFT movement and generative art was a big part of that. I feel like a lot of people discovered digital art because of it. Previously, when people asked me what I did for a living, I had to show them my work for them to understand. Now I feel like people are more aware of digital art. A good music show almost always has a VJ and good visuals. The scene is changing, and because digital art can react to music, to me it’s the next generation of art. 

A snapshot of Dimitri Thouzery's visual 531 - 'A rework of a previous'
A snapshot of Dimitri Thouzery’s visual 531 – ‘A rework of a previous’

What’s the project you worked on that felt closest to you?

I like electronic music in all its facets. One of the projects I loved working on was the one with Max Cooper. He’s one of my go-to artists to listen to when I’m working, his music inspires me a lot because it has certain focus points in it, but also stays dynamic. 

What’s the story behind the collaboration between you and Max Cooper?

He was running this challenge to remix his track ‘A Model of Reality’ for his label Mesh Mesh Mesh. It was interesting because this came at a time when I was experimenting with using colors in my art for the first time, and I was also doing more cubic art. Max Cooper reached out to me a few months after the challenge, telling me he liked my visual, and if I wanted to create some more for his upcoming EP. The track he let me create visuals for, I feel like it was something different than you would expect from him. It was more of an industrial techno track. I felt like it came together nicely because we both did something different than we usually do. Working with him was great, he supports visual artists a lot. 

Are there other artists whom you want to work with?

Max Cooper was a dream to me. Of course, there are still a lot of artists that I want to work with. I am always open to working with artists, even if they are doing a genre of music I am not into. It’s a way for me to discover new music and get out of my comfort zone. I love that.

You’re very open-minded going into projects then?

Yes, I always try to be. I remember a few years ago when Mélodie Zhao organized the first edition of SPECTRUM, a festival where classical music met electronic music, and she asked me to create visuals for several classical pieces. That was a big challenge to me because classical pieces are much more complex, the rhythm can change very fast, and you don’t have that ‘kick’ you can work with. I’m really glad I took up that challenge and went out of my comfort zone because it was such an interesting mix of styles.

How did that project inspire you? What new insights did you get from it?

When you work with music, you create your visuals and aesthetics as the first step, but then you must connect the pieces to the music. When working with electronic music, you can code in a way that a kick in the music will result in a visual reacting a certain way. With classical music, it was more about going into the flow of the music rather than assigning audio reactivity. You have to know the piece well, and it’s not just about big drops and big effects. It’s way more subtle. 

What advice do you have for people who want to get into visual art but don’t know where to start?

I have a lot of people on Instagram asking me that same question. I would say, just start, and practice every day. For me, it helps to enjoy the process of learning. Digital art can be very technical and it can be exhausting if you set a high target for yourself, but if you just enjoy experimenting, it really helps. Another tip is to try not to get too influenced by other artists and do your own thing. Especially nowadays with Instagram and all these other visuals we see all day, it’s easy to feel like you’re not good enough. The algorithms are showing us who has the most views and it’s easy to compare yourself. Follow your own ‘why’, why you create art, why you have a certain style. By experimenting and practicing a lot, you will be able to connect with yourself and figure out what you want to create and share. 

Interview conducted in December 2023 by Annelies Rom.

A big thank you to Dimitri for this very interesting talk. Don’t forget to follow him on socials to find out more about his work!

Dimitri Thouzery

You can stream or buy the Genetics LP Dimitri Thouzery worked on with us here or on Spotify down below.

If you want to read more about visual arts and TouchDesigner, you can read our previous interview with BB.dere here.