In 2017, I had the great pleasure to meet Noé Sardet. An incredible passionate being with a thirst for adventure, exploring and creative expression. Immediately upon our connection, I was quickly inspired and eager to learn more about his artistic life and passions. Granting me a interview, he revealed his unique story past, present and future.
1) What is your name? Noé Sardet aka “The Macronaut” aka “eno”
2) What type of artist are you? What genre? I am a filmmaker, photographer, multimedia designer and watercolorist. I have been teaching film, art direction and new media for the past 6 years.
3) Where were you born, and where are you living now.
I was born in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a small Mediterranean village just east of Nice. I now live in Montreal.
4) What is your education or training background?
After a scientific baccalaureate in France, I studied communications and new media in College. After a few years of work as a multimedia designer I went back to higher education to get a Master degree in Art Direction and multimedia engineering from the University of Nice, France. At all stages in my education I searched for a good balance of Art and Science!
5) What is your medium do you use to express yourself?
My main medium is film. Filmmaking is the best way to tell a story, with sound, image, transmitting emotions… Parafilms is our production company and we create films with substance, often based on science or cultural themes, we call it adventure filmmaking. We usually document scientific and environmental expeditions. Photography also is one of my favorite means of expression. Especially photos that have a certain abstraction or mystery around them. Photos of living organisms fascinate me… My photos of living creatures have been exhibited and printed in books.
I also use graphic design as a medium, compositing elements and layers to make an augmented art piece. I often do prints of the photos and compositions, makes them palpable and real. I also paint watercolor when I travel and during expeditions. I keep a journal, a written and illustrated memory of the adventure.
I used to be a graffiti artist when I was a teenager. I spent all my nights painting trains and walls along the traintracks. I was very much influenced by the New York Hip Hop culture.
6) Who or what inspires or influences your work?
My most important inspiration is nature. It’s mystery, beauty and immense power are always inspiration for my work. Photographing living species underwater, and on a microscopic level, has showed me some amazing facets of nature. Creatures and behaviours that resemble nothing you could find on land… I like to combine Art and Science in my process.
I am also inspired by many artists, creators and musicians. Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchs, Eischer’s complex visual illusions, Vasarelli, Dali, Basquiat, Franck Stella. In the more recent years I’ve been fascinated by the work of Olafur Eliasson, Andy Goldsworthy, Andy Gilmore, Mike Cina, and graffiti artists such as Mode2, Cope2 and Futura2000, they bring me back to my teenage years where I spent countless hours writing graffiti.
A big influence for me was my grandmother, she was an architect, one of the very first American woman to get a architectural degree in New York in the fifties. My father also is a great mentor for me. He is a biologist, an amazing communicator and has studied the cell development and molecular biology. In other words he has researched the origin of life most of his career. We have worked together on many occasions. We still do projects together!
7) Why create? What is the purpose for you?
Creativity is vital to me. It is important part of my life. Creativity for me is also about love and dedication. Whether it is through my work, my travels, my passion and during my free time, I have to be active creativity. A good example is cooking, the preparation of a simple meal can be a burst of creativity and I love to share those moments! I like to share the mysteries of nature with others, so showing the invisible stuff like the beauty of microscopic living creatures like phytoplankton is meaningful; it takes us on a journey… Almost like exploring another dimension or a place we do not know like the Abyss or the Cosmos. That is where my artist pseudonym “The Macronaut” comes from. It is also meditative, I can spend hours looking into this tiny world, contained in a drop of water... I feel like we are exploring a frontier every time I dive into macro photography or microscopy imaging. Another application… The Montreal planetarium is producing a new show called EXO about Exo-planets, well they are using some of our plankton footage to show how extra-terrestrial certain life forms are! The last two years BBC (Planet Earth3) and National Geographic (One Strange Rock) have hired us to create some out-of-this world plankton footage. This was a dream come true for Parafilms but also very challenging in many ways…
Creating art and magnifying the mysteries of nature is my passion! I think the real challenge is to be able to live from your creativity and make it a full time activity. We have succeeded in doing this with Parafilms, combining filmmaking, photography, documenting expedition, conceiving cross plateform projects, books and exhibitions…
8) What is your theme or subject matter?
Nature, life science, biology and the Ocean are the main subjects that inspire my work. For the past 9 years we have been working on plankton with my father and Sharif, my partner. We have accumulated a massive archive of media (photos and videos) about the subject. It is an infinite source of visual material as there are millions of species and we have only skimmed the surface of what’s out there. I believe I will be shooting plankton for the rest of my life, it is a fascinating world. As team we have become experts in recognizing these creatures and their behaviors and we regularly get hired to document scientific expeditions or create new spectacular images.
9) Can you tell me a bit about your process? I get up fairly early and work well in the morning, very focused usually. I often take a good break during the day, for lunch for example and a short nap sometimes because I also work late in the night. When everything is calm I can focus again and this is a good time for writing. Since I’ve had a little girl, Emma, I’ve changed my habits a bit but I still create at night sometimes.
I love to work in a team and I enjoy the times alone when your spirits run free with an idea. I sketch and paint during conceptual phases and when I travel. I keep a daily journals on each expedition, so I write and paint my memories of the adventure....
10) What are the biggest struggles in your creative life as a artist in the city or just in general? How do you generally move past any blocks? I think the biggest obstacle to creativity is having too much projects or work at the same time. I tend to prioritize the creative work, conceptual stuff… But that is not always the logical priority for your collaborators, clients or partners. I tend to procrastinate when a subject does not inspire me or if I don’t enjoy working with someone. This is a problem with contractual work sometimes. Also I need to get out in nature. I like living in Montreal, it’s a vibrant and super creative place, but I have to get my fix of outdoors, wilderness frequently or else I feel stressed out and my mind gets cluttered. To me connecting with nature, sailing on the ocean or hiking at the top of a mountain, or snowboarding in the backcountry are essential and are the most spiritual moments in life.
11) What projects are you working on now, and what are you dreams for your future for your work and life ?
We are now exploring the fascinating world of Soil and it’s living creatures. After plankton, we dive into the biology of soil. This is a real avant-garde project linked with the concept of “regeneration”. An interesting change of paradigm is happening in science and agronomy, where living soils, containing the right biology can replace any chemical input such as fertilizers and pesticides… It is a real green revolution as these soil microorganisms are also capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Some scientists claim that we could reduce the effects of climate change if this was done on large scale farming exploitations.
I am also workingon a new film about the North Atlantic Right Whale, the most endangered cetacean species on the planet. A true gentle giant that needs our help to avoid extinction. And guess what… They eat plankton!!! In the future I would love to create a non-profit organization that offers to youth and people with difficulties to do life-changing expeditions.
12) Travel. Where have you been and where would you like to go?
These past two years I have been to both poles, Arctic and Antarctic… I guess it makes me bi-polar. Amazing places where human’s impact is still minimal. I dream of going back to Antarctica… I am curious to discover Africa. I’ve been to North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia but never the other countries.
13) Any words of advise to other emerging artists on being a creative person. Any motto’s you live by or remind yourself on a daily basis.
Keep the faith in your passions; keep pushing even if it's not lucrative or it doesn’t allow you to sustain your lifestyle. The most important is to keep doing what you love most…
14) Does the city you live in influence your work?
Yes Montreal, and Montrealers inspire me. It is a place where freedom has a true meaning. People choose to do what they like more than any other city I’ve lived in. Even more than New York or San Francisco, cities where I lived in the past.
The book " Around the Antartica " can be purchased here.
CONTACT - Noé Sardet
Website - Parafilms -http://parafilms.com/