Edouard Salier

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"In France, they say I'm a hard sell," says Edouard Salier. It's not hard to see why since the French-born director is behind the controversial short Flesh, which screened at the Venice Biennale and made its U.S. debut at Resfest this year. The multimedia film takes an alternative terrorist's-eye view in recounting the events of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, projecting images of graphic girl on girl action onto the twin towers and almost every other architectural icon in the city, all of which turn to rubble after being struck by an ominous armada of airplanes. During Resfest, the typically open-minded crowd became dead silent, the stillness broken only by the rant of one embittered woman who had lost a loved one during the attacks. While Flesh is likely to rattle not just New Yorkers, but many a Koran-devoted Muslim, "I'm not a politician," Salier asserts. "I'm just an artist. It's an illustration of the world in which we live. I'm 29 years old, from the generation of MTV, video games and also of terrorism, so it's a mix of everything for me. To me this was the most important event of the beginning of the 21st century. I made this to ask the big questions. "

Salier studied graphic art and design at the Paris-based ESAG-Pennighen and started out designing record sleeves for electronic music bands in France. An encounter with French hip-hop producer Doctor L led to his first video for the band Assassin, after which he went on to direct more clips for French and Latin American artists. "The most important thing for me is to make a sort of art," he says. "It's about creating something different, opening the eyes of the public. That's the kind of work I want to do." One of Salier's earlier shorts, Empire, features happy scenes of Americana, morphing like camouflage around initially unrecognizable forms of fighter planes and battle tanks. The effect is visually jarring, but emerges from what Salier says is a simple process similar to the one used on the film Predator.

A technique mixmaster devoted to experimentation, Salier boasts a reel that spans a wild range, from bare bones live action for Bacardi and PlayStation, to ethereal image layering in promos for MTV. Salier also recently completed spots for Orange and Evian, out of Euro RSCG, featuring more classic graphic styles. The technical aspects are cake as far as Salier is concerned, but it's his decision to apply them to unexpected ideas that have led some to dub him a young Michel Gondry, with which Salier politely takes issue. "Michel Gondry now is an established director and is also old school style," he explains. "My generation grew up with home computers and can make movies anywhere, so I don't know if that comparison is a good one."

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