Pleix Collective Picture

INTERPLEIX - a rare PLEIX interview

India Murphy, Metacubs editor, in an interview with the creators of Metacubs - the group Pleix. Comments by the projects' art director Jose Man Lius.

When and how did Pleix come into being? Where was it started and what was the thinking behind it? 

PLEIX was created in 2001. The collective was born from the meeting of seven artists from different backgrounds, around a common desire to mix complementary inspirations and approaches. Through various creative media, ranging from art installation to video projection, the work of the collective diverts what surrounds us to better understand it. The work holds up a distorting mirror to our society, address the contradictions of our time in a playful and symbolic way and reveals its subliminal messages. 

We all gradually met working for french directors Kuntzel&Degas in the very late 90'. While collaborating on K&D’s projects, we developed a real friendship and a synergy which made us believe we could develop and produce films on our own.

Since then we have worked for and with artist and global personalities: Pilooski (Discodeine), Vitalic (Birds), Basement jaxx (KISH KASH), Plaid (Warp Records), Kid606, Groove Armada, Tamara Rojo (star dancer and artistic director of English National Ballet), Russell Maliphant (choreographer).

JML: Some of their famous works are the title sequence of Spielberg's movie "Catch me if you can" or the campaign for Guerlain "La petite robe noire". Their videos have millions of youtube views, unforgettable mascots, from the release of dogs on an electro musical background (Birds—Vitalic) to the political diktat of Les Cochons (Plaid—Warp Records) via the ballets of Tamara Rojo (star dancer and director artist of the English National Ballet) or Russell Maliphant (choreographer). 

PLEIX Muscle man

How does Pleix work? Are there any rules - is it an open shop for artists to collaborate and share ideas? 

Since the beginning, Pleix has always been a collective of seven cofounders. In the past we collaborated with other artists but we always kept the names separate. Inside Pleix, there are no rules, things usually happen quite organically based on each one's motivations, availability and skills.

We usually don’t show our faces. We always thought that it is more important to highlight the work and less the people behind it but for some PR reasons we had to come up with an official self portrait. The end result is a very stylish family picture done out of 3D characters in the vein of the game design “Minecraft”.

PLEIX Collective

How do you define your practice? 

The collective is a gathering of 7 people with complementary skills, diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, who share common interest in art and contemporary visuals.

A common and general objective that has persisted since the creation of Pleix is to alternate commissioned work and personal work. Our influences are multiple on the side of design, cinema and the world of art. The collective works without a rigid structure and without a leader. Pleix works, in a way, like a body, where each gives life to the other and it is the reunion of the whole that has meaning. 

What’s the most satisfying project you have worked on and why? 

I'm not sure one project in particular ever was way above the others, each project comes with its pros and cons. Our personal projects were probably the most enjoyable to work on since we had full creative freedom, there was nothing to sell, I think we were just aiming at something we actually would love to see. Unfortunately these projects usually were made with very little to no money at all, interestingly enough they often ended up being among the most creatively relevant work we did.

Current artistic projects: We are currently working on a permanent sculpture project for Luxembourg. For the moment we are still waiting for the green light from the Ministry of Culture and Buildings. Production time is 6 months. With a little luck the project should see the light of day in June-July 2022. In relation to social networks, the idea is to document (photos and filmed moments) the different stages of production until the final installation. 

JML: Mascots like Rabbits 2M views (Groove Armada), Dogs 1M views (Vitalic), Pig (Plaid), Bird (Piu)… The dogs associated with the laser have become a symbol of the collective. The Bird/Dog/Vitalic project became a phenomenon to such an extent that it was later taken up by advertising. 


Where does Pleix sit in the creative community - is it an art-house, a commercial venture - does it compare itself with modern art or is it something different? 

I think we were originally perceived as "motion graphics" artists, but we have since then explored a wide variety of mediums: directing commercials, films, animations and print ads, art installations (video and physical), art direction, scenography, and more recently sculpture... Despite the inherited specificities of each project we sort of feel like we are following the same approach for all of them. We always try to do the best possible under the constraints that comes with each project (time, money, etc… ) but also creatively and visually how bold and elegant we can be so our clients still feel comfortable with the work and it still can talk to the audience they are targeting. With commercial projects we often have very little room to sway but it can be exciting to solve the puzzle as we like to call it sometimes.    

Have there been any key moments or changes in direction which have shaped the work of Pleix?

I think the real key moment in our story was how we started, how a bunch of nobodies, kids with a couple of computers and a first generation Nikon Coolpix were able to produce and broadcast films that would compete with much larger well established productions. This was kind of new in 2000, knowledge, big enough computers and digital cameras had just become accessible to the common public.

Pretty rapidly producers from everywhere came to us. We never really planned to direct commercials although we knew this was the only way to make a living out of what we were doing and were really excited to access real gears, collaborate with legendary professional cinematographers, art department studios and post production companies. We aged and some of us ended up having families so I'm sure at some point we had to grow up and face the fact that what was our passion had become a career, we could not just live stacking up half a dozen computers in somebody's studio apartement making cool music videos for free, forever. Professional adult life includes many aspects that we were not comfortable with but since we were 7 those who were ok to deal with those aspects shielded those who then were able to stay focused on the actual work. Today we are much more flexible but we are still working this way.

JML: Major advertising projects for Amnesty, Nissan Qashqai, Audi Letters, Sony HD, Mini

PLEIX cyber animal

Which industries or sectors does Pleix work within?   

We worked a lot for car brands, cell phone companies, tv network idents and luxury.... But we would be open to work on lighter projects for other type of brands which remain creatively a little more adventurous than the usual regular ads. In parallel to the commercial work, we worked on some art exhibitions and installations projects and are currently working on projects leaning toward design & architecture which is new for us but somehow feels like a natural evolution.  

What are the most interesting materials or mediums you’ve ever worked with? Did you discover anything interesting while working with them?

 Everything is interesting.... but you should not try to master everything, it's impossible, life is too short. Most discoveries I can think of were actually failures or accidents. Sometimes you can misuse a software, a shader, a render engine… and discover jewel-like artefacts.

What are the main inspirations and influences? Any uncommon influences?

We all have our special influences, by now they have spread and blended among us. We are still curious, watching a lot of movies, and listening to a lot of music. There is a 10 years age gap between the youngest and the oldest  within pleix which probably has been fruitful to all of us. Jean Giraud, Katsuiro Otomo, Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Antonioni ...and many others.

PLEIX Art installation

PLEIX art installation water

PLEIX art installation wind

Who are the main teams and individuals behind Pleix?  

Laetitia, she is the one who did put us to work in the beginning. Answering emails, sending materials to events and press, doing talks since nobody wants to be on a stage talking about their work, organizing exhibitions etc....  Jean Phillipe, is our original musician, sound and editing guy, will happily figure out how to use new toys we might need: Arduino, Raspberry. Genevieve, very talented 2d artist also has a carrere on her own. Eric, originally  focused on compositing, editing, directing. Olivier, art department background, 2d artist, compositing, directing. Erwin, 3d artist, directing. Michel, 3d artist, directing.

Any good stories from your work? 

When we were making our first films, we stood out because our sources of inspiration were drawn from current events (cosmetic surgery, the September 11 attacks, emotional relationships from a distance, etc.). It is probably this mixture between the form (inspired by the music video) and the content that must have aroused the interest, more than just an aesthetic bias. We were talked about as a subversive collective, I imagine that must be part of the trademark. 

What most excites you about the Metacubs - and what do you think their appeal might be to potential collectors? 

The NFT collection entitled Metacubs questions the place of new heroic figures in our society. These anonymous young people who oppose the system of thought of their fathers to defend a cause, the planet or climate change. The Metacubs offer a series of figurines imagined in the style of "ART TOY" and made by PLEIX collective in improbable materials (Neon, Resin, Wood, foam, bubble, Minerals, stellar, Earthenware, ceramics, Jelly, plastic, Epoxy) . The choice of this aesthetic refers PLEIX to the enthusiasm of graphic designers for the ART TOY artistic movement in the 2000s. The ancestors of NFT in a way. Toys or cards to collect (base ball, football, Pokémon) with characters in simplified shapes declined and repeated ad infinitum. 

PLEIX Metacubs WIP

Contemporary Art has always played on the rarity, the experience and the exhibition of the work. The NFT Metacubs project offers a unique experience that I hope NFT collectors can enjoy. The Metacubs project is a participatory experience that will redistribute the benefits of NFTs for the benefit of associations that defend endangered animal species and other charitable actions. Buyers of these NFTs might follow the project in real life for concrete evolution of their participation or by simply wearing a t-shirt to the next manifest.

Why not consider crypto, blockchain protocols or even NFTs as the essential tools of tomorrow at the service of real life? A tool more than an end in itself to precisely allow the community of Metacubs made up of amateurs, fans and collectors to have access to an unforgettable experience. A Virtual—Real—Cultural—Social—Tourist—Humanitarian experience that allows you to act at the heart of the fight of nature defenders, like a gateway to the real world, somewhere in the North—South—East—West of the planet. A virtual bounty experience that culminates in subversive action. 

The web is more a social invention than a technological one. I designed it to have a social effect – to help people work together – not as a technological toy. —Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, 1999 

 How do Metacubs impact the environment?  

While the energy consumption of Bitcoin is singled out, Metacubs is interested in renewable energies and the NFT purchase experience towards real concrete action. Can fueling humanitarian economic activity help reduce the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies? Can we be fully aware of the responsibility linked to the purchase of an NFT? Buying an NFT that supports an endangered animal rights organization changes our paradigm. The energy spent will serve a cause on the other side of the planet. It is as if we became responsible for the finality of the trajectory of the household waste that we put in the trash every day. In this case, the energy expenditure is balanced by a humanitarian associative action. 

PLEIX Metacubs Fox NFT

What was the development process like for the Metacubs? 

The idea of ​​creating ART NFTs with the aim of defending a humanitarian cause via the redistribution of profits has therefore gained ground. We wanted the media's enthusiasm for NFTs to be redirected towards the merit of humanitarian associations and the animal cause. We first focused on the expression and attitude of the new hero—chimeras—generations of young activists who sulk and do not allow themselves to be impressed like Greta Thunberg. How these young people find the courage to oppose the generation of their fathers — to say Stop inequality, to say Yes to (climate) change to preserve the planet's environment. 

Who are your biggest influences? 

Personally, my artistic creation process is influenced by contemporary art from conceptual art to augmented reality, bio-art, performance, installation. For this collaboration with PLEIX, the ART TOY also called DESIGNER TOY or VINYL was obvious. These are ultra-limited edition figurines that appeared in the late 1990s in Hong Kong and Japan under the impetus of artists such as Michael Lau, Kaws, Futura 2000 and James Jarvis. Designer toy / heroism / SCIFI / Mythology and chimeras have come together to reinvent the new codes of Metacubes.

Where do you think the NFT scene is right now? 

The NFT Art scene is the most exciting topic of the moment for any Digital Art enthusiast. These Non Fungible Tokens are cryptographic digital “tokens” that certify and represent a single non-fungible work, digital image, film or animation. They thus make it possible to certify the rarity, authenticity and ownership of the digital product. Crypto art. Cousin of digital collectible cards, NFTs appeared on games like Age of Chains or the sale of digital art with CryptoPunks… After the passage from the real world to the virtual world which had accustomed us to identical duplication at infinity and at almost zero cost of digital objects (images, photos, songs, films, etc.), we go back in the opposite direction to restore a unique—rare—expensive character to these same digital objects. 

Are there any NFT projects you are excited about right now? Any artists, architects, or designers?  

Chaos from Urs FIsher
Jappari Bugs Digital
Banksy 1

How did the Duracell Bunnies work come about - what was the reaction to it? Did it create a high profile for Pleix?

We were approached by a french advertising company (I forgot which one DDB?)

They needed a 3d interpretation of the Duracell bunny, we had to re-design it so it could be duplicated hundreds of times and be able to behave as a swarm. 

We did collaborate with Digital District Paris, they did a fantastic job under the schedule we had to follow. The most exciting part of this job would have been the print campagne that came with the film, unfortunately it got killed before we had a chance to finish it and became something else. 

PLEIX Duracell bunnies

Do you do much work for advertising industries? 

If making commercials for the advertising industry was considered “dirty” there would not be enough soap on this planet to wash us clean. Making commercials is the only way for graphic artists like us to make a living. Even if you are very selective you have no guarantee that you will end up with something meaningful that will preserve the integrity of what you believe your work is about. However there is also a positive aspect in every commercial job you get to meet really talented people, face new challenges, and learn constantly.

What are agencies looking for when they come to you? (please offer anything specific about advertising that you wish to).

I believe they used to come to us because we were fresh and trendy, we could make something decent with almost no money, now when they come to us it is because we are experienced and safe.

How do you see the role of Pleix changing or adapting to meet the changes in society thanks to the Metaverse/NFTs/post Covid world etc ….

Covid has been brutal to all of use, for the first time we had days with no email at all, everything did freez for a year or so before we and the people around us start to move again and adapt I guess. Even though life under our government's policies in response to “the pandemic” felt like a poorly written episode of BlackMirror, this was the opportunity to prepare future personal projects and explore mediums we never considered before. 

We are now in 2022. I think it is now ok to assume that deep inside, we all know something much deeper than Covid is happening which makes it uncomfortable to bet on anything.

We are not quite certain yet on how we should approach the NFT/Metaverse phenomenon, it definitely looks like a place to be for people like us, we feel it is still constantly mutating ,so are we.

What is the next project Pleix may be working on?

During the Covid shutdown period beside NFTs we got involved with design projects that are not yet executed but we really are excited about it, it led us close to architecture/landscaping. Surprisingly, we feel very comfortable with it so far and are looking forward to making more similar projects in the future.   

Do you think imagery is more or less important nowadays across advertising and society

I think like many other things since the internet really, imagery is now red, produced and understood by a lot of people, anybody talented can be seen and potentially create a buzz, it is not only produced and selectively distributed by a handful of entities anymore, these entities do not need to be creative anymore; they have no other choice now than following the followers… Assuming we manage to preserve our freedom of speech and publishing in the near future, we cannot wait to see what the world is about to become.



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