Page 1

Le Rêve des formes The Dream of Forms


28 par la négative, ce qui fait lien ou liant. C’est la question de « l’espace commun », résumait Sophie Duplaix dans le catalogue qui accompagnait sa rétrospective au Centre Pompidou (Paris) : « Un ensemble de pièces sont imaginées dans le but de mettre en évidence certaines intuitions autour de nouvelles notions présentes dans l’œuvre, ou de leur reformulation : la latéralité, l’intersection, la coupe 13. » Aux coupes franches effectuées dans la matière (si l’on pense par exemple à Donkey (2016), crâne d’âne pris dans le béton et fracturé très nettement) répondent aujourd’hui les coupes effectuées grâce à l’outil informatique et la conception 3D, comme c’est le cas avec Jeanne (2016) présenté dans l’exposition et dont les parties sont assemblées sous l’effet d’aimants encastrés dans ces formes en mousse dure enduite. Ici, la couleur et la personnification du titre renvoient indéniablement à la figure humaine. Dans l’œuvre mobile de Bruno Gironcoli, autre maître en matière d’hybridation, c’est aux dimensions de la pièce et à l’interaction avec le corps du visiteur, que l’on doit l’effet d’anthropomorphisation du culbuto à taille humaine que nous avons choisi de présenter. Chez Julian Charrière, SMITH et Antonin-Tri Hoang, dont les œuvres sont présentées à la fin du parcours, la fiction et la réalité tendent enfin à se rejoindre. Julian Charrière a voyagé jusqu’au site de Polygon de Semipalatinsk, au Kazakhstan, pour la série photographique Polygon, inspirée également par la nouvelle de J. G. Ballard, « The Terminal Beach ». Sur ce site anciennement dédié aux essais nucléaires soviétiques, plus de quatre cents bombes ont explosé entre 1949 et 1989. L’artiste est allé photographier les architectures en béton armé construites pour étudier les effets du souffle nucléaire, monuments involontaires de la zone atomique. Ces photographies ont ensuite été soumises au moment de leur développement aux rayonnements du sable prélevé sur place. SMITH et Antonin-Tri Hoang ont de leur côté imaginé un conte lunaire autour du troisième élément radioactif qui aurait été découvert par accident par Marie Curie : le saturnium. De cette substance mystérieuse, ils tentent ici de déchiffrer l’alphabet secret. Les portraits photographiques de SMITH et la bandeson d’Antonin-Tri Hoang qui les accompagne, témoignent d’une génération à venir ; humains du futur soumis à la radiation et dont l’altération physiologique constitue le premier signe distinctif. Imprimées avec des encres phosphorescentes sur du papier thermosensible, ces photographies, réalisées à la chambre, ne sont plus indexées sur une temporalité humaine, mais le temps beaucoup plus long du géologique ou du cosmique. C’est dans la réverbération de ce mouvement de balancier, dans la métronomie des allers et retours entre l’attention que les artistes et scientifiques portent à nouveau aux formes multiples du vivant et le désir d’anticipation d’un écosystème élargi à d’autres espèces technologiques ou synthétiques que l’exposition « Le Rêve des formes » a installé son rythme et son souffle. Si bien que l’exposition elle-même est une forme en cours de mutation. Quelquesunes des œuvres qui y sont présentées posent d’ailleurs la question du temps long : le film de dunes d’Hicham Berrada continue de s’augmenter au fil des semaines, procédant au recouvrement progressif d’un paysage au départ totalement vierge. Les substances colorées sélectionnées par Michel Blazy délimiteront également le périmètre de leur territoire, sans qu’il soit possible de prévoir

exactement les réactions chimiques que leur rencontre produira. Quant aux portraits de SMITH, seules représentations humaines de l’exposition, ils évolueront eux aussi au gré des écarts de températures, de l’allongement et du rétrécissement des jours au cours de cet été 2017. La désignation de cette nouvelle ère géologique, écologique mais aussi théorique, que constitue l’Anthropocène, qui nous demande de revoir nos modes de perception du monde, de pensée et de faire, a défini il y a quelques années un nouveau territoire à explorer pour les artistes contemporains. Certains se sont tournés, comme les penseurs de l’écologie les invitaient à le faire, vers la diversité délaissée ou dominée du monde vivant, d’autres dont ceux que l’on range sous la bannière des « digital natives »; ont à leur tour estimé, que face à ce monde sans recours possible à la touche reset 14, il valait mieux élargir le spectre du vivant aux objets connectés et considérer que nous ne sommes plus les seuls êtres pensants, mais que les machines participent ou participeront bientôt, elles aussi, à la construction d’un commun. Si beaucoup d’expositions et plus encore de nombreux ouvrages ont récemment balisé l’une ou l’autre de ces directions, « Le Rêve des formes » cherche cette fois à les placer sur des plans équivalents et coulissants, laissant le choix entre ces deux scénarios du futur. 1 Gaston Bachelard, L’Eau et les Rêves (José Corti, Paris, 1942), p. 3. 2 Paul B. Preciado, « Le derrière de l’histoire », Libération, 27 février 2017. 3 Elle fut produite pour la première fois en 1988 au P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (New York), sous l’égide de Chris Dercon, avant d’entamer, dans les années 2000, une tournée passant par Séville, Poitiers, Oiron et Le Fresnoy, où ce « paysage nocturne, ce territoire urbain, ce jardin à la fois antique, renaissant et baroque, […] était aussi une scène de théâtre, un livre monumental et un écran horizontal à la surface duquel des sculptures et des maquettes d’architectures avaient poussé », pour résumer la formule d’Alain Fleischer. Dans ce paysage, les treize artistes invités bénéficiaient d’une grande latitude pour composer ce qui au final s’apparentait davantage à une œuvre collective qu’à une exposition. « Pas d’œuvres au mur, pas de sculptures bien délimitées au sol, mais une grande table. […] Les tables sont recouvertes d’une poudre blanche (du sucre, en fait) sur laquelle sont projetées verticalement des images de l’histoire de l’art (Rüdiger Schöttle), alors qu’un autre jeu de diapositives, sur le thème du jardin classique, est projeté plus classiquement au fond de la salle (Ludger Gerdes). À droite, des gradins permettent de jouir du spectacle, de devenir spectateur des autres spectateurs, comme des bancs publics dans un jardin, sculpture à la fois pratiquée et regardée (Marin Kasimir) ». 4 Entretien avec Guy Tortosa, par Bénédicte Ramade, 2008. 5 Dans l’ouvrage éponyme, Thomas Schlesser affirme que chez Quentin Meillassoux, auteur d’Après la finitude, surgit « la pensée devenue possible d’un monde se passant de la pensée, essentiellement inaffecté par le fait d’être pensé ou non ». Et d’ajouter, rappelant au passage la paternité du titre de son livre-somme : « Revenait ainsi philosophiquement la hantise de Baudelaire, qui avait vu poindre, avec un génie extraordinaire, époustouflant, ce cauchemar à ses yeux d’un “univers sans l’homme” en commentant les peintres dits “positivistes” du xixe siècle. On comprend, en lisant Meillassoux, ce que l’auteur du Salon de 1859 reprochait aux barbizonniens, à Théodore Rousseau, à Gustave Courbet : au fond, Baudelaire accusait ces artistes de faire comme si le monde ne s’offrait pas, ne se livrait pas à la subjectivité, à la conscience, à l’imagination et cela lui était intolérable. » Thomas Schlesser, L’Univers sans l’homme (Hazan, Paris, 2016), p. 234. 6 Marielle Macé, Styles. Critique de nos formes de vie (NRF Essais, Gallimard, Paris, 2016), p. 13. 7 Emanuele Coccia, La Vie des plantes (Rivages, Paris, 2016), p. 17–18. 8 Marielle Macé, Styles, op. cit., p. 68-69. 9 Gaston Bachelard, L’Eau et les Rêves, op. cit, p. 2. 10 Ibid., p. 2. 11 Roberto Barbanti et Lorraine Verner (dir.), Les Limites du vivant (Éditions Dehors, Bellevaux, 2016), p. 11. 12 Jean-Luc Moulène, catalogue d’exposition (Centre Pompidou et Dilecta, Paris, 2016), p. 87. 13 Ibid., p. 19. 14 L’emploi de ce terme est un clin d’œil à l’exposition « GLOBALE: Reset Modernity ! » organisée par Bruno Latour au ZKM (Karlsruhe) en 2016.


29

The Plasticity of Life

by Claire Moulène “It is to the intimate imagination of this vegetating and material powers that I would like to pay most attention,”1 wrote Gaston Bachelard in Water and Dreams (1942), a book that bears witness to the philosopher’s extraordinary ability to read and perceive the primitive forms of life and their astonishing plasticity. Philosopher of science and poet, rationalist and surrealist, Bachelard is a good companion for anyone who wants to explore the craggy terrain of the relationships between art and science.

Pierre Huyghe Untilled (2011–2012) Entités vivantes et choses inanimées, faites et non faites / Alive entities and inanimate things, made and not made Dimensions variables / Dimensions variable Vue d’exposition / Exhibition view, dOCUMENTA 13 (Cassel / Kassel), 09.06 – 16.09 2012 Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & Marian Goodman Gallery (New York, Paris), Esther Schipper (Berlin)

Like him, the artists in the exhibition “Le Rêve des formes” [The Dream of Forms] have ventured into the area where these two disciplines meet and fertilise each other. After having taken the same path for a long time, they started to draw apart in the 17 th century, until their divorce was declared in the 19th and 20th centuries, when the sciences developed with an almost total indifference towards artistic movements, and vice versa. As for the early 21st century, it seems to be witnessing a new awareness of the risks that this division between the arts and sciences presents for us. For nearly a decade, the shift into the Anthropocene, a new geological era irremediably stamped by Mankind, has led some thinkers and artists to pay attention to the collateral effects of a mad techno-scientific rush, to put an end to the Nature/Culture fracture, and to consider us humans as one species among others, amid the vegetable, animal and even mineral kingdoms. We can also hear the voice of the philosopher and curator Paul B. Preciado, when he wrote in one of his editorials for Libération: “We are going through a time of epistemological crisis. […] Any one of the machines we use on a daily basis possesses a capacity which is 10,000 times greater than an individual human intelligence: it compiles, manages and analyses data. We have sequenced our own DNA. We can intervene in the genetic structure of a living being. We intentionally modify our hormonal cycles and are capable of intervening

in the reproductive processes. We use nuclear technologies whose radioactive waste will still be on the earth long after the extinction of our own species. […] We have given free rein to machines and, in the meantime, we want the technologies of production, subjectivity and government to remain unmovable. The gravity of the historical moment that we are experiencing could be compared, in evolutionary terms, to the period, while we were still just animals, when we invented language as a social technology.”2 It is along two routes, which have already been broadly marked out in the world of contemporary art, but which have rarely been lain side by side, that the exhibition “Le Rêve des formes” has been conceived with around thirty artists and scientists: on the one hand, the rediscovery of the world of the living in all of its diversity, through an exploration of dynamic, mimetic or naturalistic forms; on the other, an exploration of mutant or algorithmic forms, inspired by mathematics, computing and artificial intelligence. These two routes in turn have led us to explore exhibition formats that borrow from the codes of science: the laboratory and the vivarium. The work that Pierre Huyghe has been doing for some years now, from documenta in Kassel in 2012 to his recent experiments on cancerous cells at the Palais de Tokyo in 2016, essentially inspired the exhibition’s first chapter, in its way of conceiving the exhibition as an ecosystem with its own rhythm and respiration, making the artificial assemblage of an “exhibition time” as suspect as its usual spatial setting, the museum. “What interests me is intensifying the presence of what is,” declared the artist, staging a wild patch of garden as part of documenta and, in this living tableau, giving the possibility for works to lead their own lives, to contaminate each other, pollinize each other, and flirt with the various timescales of the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The memory of “Theatergarden Bestiarium,”3 a legendary exhibition by the critic and gallerist Rüdiger Schöttle, which was revived in 2008 at Le Fresnoy under the aegis of Guy Tortosa, also greatly inspired us. It presented “a landscape of images and objects conversing in the darkness of a stage-table of about 120 square metres, covered with white spangles, evoking snow and the material of cinema screens. To this ‘set,’ crossed over by two perpendicular alleys, was


p. 39–40 Michel Blazy – Bactéries murales (2017) Plâtre, eau, colorants alimentaires / Plaster, water, food coloring ; Dimensions variables / Dimensions variable Courtesy Art : Concept (Paris) Katja Novitskova – Approximation V (2013) Tirage numérique sur aluminium, découpe / Digital print on aluminum, cutout display ; 125 × 140 × 35 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler (Berlin) ; Photo : Nils Klinger

41


Mimosa Echard – A/B10 (2016) Algues, lichen, kombucha, champignon phallus indusiatus, ginseng, clitoria, verveine, sarriette, millepertuis, camomille, ronces, bois de rose, pétales de rose, bourrache, cigale, achillées, hélicryse, bruyère, coquilles d’œufs, papillons et abeilles séchées, eucommia, Coca-Cola light, billes de verre, emballages, faux ongles, débris de carrosserie, pilules contraceptives Leeloo Gé, pilules d’echinacea, levure de bière, compléments alimentaires Boots et Schaebens pour la peau, la fertilité, la lactation, la tranquillité, cire dépilatoire, résine epoxy, plexiglass / Seaweed, lichen, kombucha, phallus indusiatus mushroom, ginseng, clitoria, vervain, satureja, St John’s wort, chamomile, bramble, rose wood, rose petals, borage, cicada, milfoil, helichrysum italicum, heather, egg shell, butterfly, bee, eucommia, Coca Cola light, flat glass marble, wrapping, fake nail, car body fragment, Leeloo Gé birth-control pill, echinacea pills, brewer›s yeast, Boots and Schaebens food supplement for skin, fertility, lactation, tranquility, depilatory wax, epoxy resin ; 180 × 200 cm Collection Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & Galerie Samy Abraham (Paris) ; Photo : Aurélien Mole

49


Anicka Yi – Escape From The Shade 1 (2016) Résine époxy, acier inoxydable, ampoules, horloge numérique, câble / Epoxy resin, stainless steel, lightbulbs, digital clock interface, wire ; 177 × 62 × 59 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist, 47 Canal (New York) & Fridericianum (Cassel / Kassel) ; Photo : Fabian Frinzel p. 56 Anicka Yi – When Species Meet Part 1 (Shine Or Go Crazy) (2016) (détail / detail) Tubes et accessoires en acrylique, fausse fourrure, équipement de laboratoire, câble, mousse, résine epoxy, peinture, galets pour aquarium, fausses perles /  Acrylic pipes and fittings, faux fur, lab hardware, wire, foam, epoxy resin, paint, aquarium pebbles, imitation pearls ; 183 × 183 × 183 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist, 47 Canal (New York) & Fridericianum (Cassel / Kassel) ; Photo : Fabian Frinzel

55


60 Anicka Yi Force Majeure (2017) Plexiglas, aluminium, agar-agar, bactéries, système de réfrigération, lampes LED, verre, résine époxy, acier inoxydable recouvert de poudre, ampoules, horloges numériques, silicone et fleurs en soie / Plexiglas, aluminum, agar, bacteria, refrigeration system, LED lights, glass, epoxy resin, powder coated stainless steel, light bulbs, digital clocks, silicone, and silk flowers Vues d’exposition / Exhibition views, « Life Is Cheap », The Hugo Boss Prize 2016, 21.04 – 05.07 2017, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York) Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & 47 Canal (New York) Photo : David Heald, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Anicka Yi Lifestyle Wars (2017) Fourmis, Plexiglas miroir, Plexiglas, glace sans taint, lampes LED, résine époxy, paillettes, étagères en aluminium avec boîtiers serveur rackables et câbles Ethernet, câbles métalliques, mousse, acrylique, gravier pour aquarium et fausses perles / Ants, mirrored Plexiglas, Plexiglas, two-way mirrored glass, LED lights, epoxy resin, glitter, aluminum racks with rackmount server cases and Ethernet cables, metal wire, foam, acrylic, aquarium gravel, and imitation pearls Vues d’exposition / Exhibition views, « Life Is Cheap », The Hugo Boss Prize 2016, 21.04 – 05.07 2017, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York) Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & 47 Canal (New York) Photo : David Heald, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation


61

Seance and Science

a conversation between Anicka Yi, Frank Cusimano, Hunter Giese & Ross McBee The artist Anicka Yi is here in conversation with three biologists, with whom she recently collaborated on preparing an exhibition. The point was to imagine the means to induce perceptions, or drugs which would give rise to tolerance, while also examining the notion of beauty in scientific research. Anicka Yi When we met in the context of preparing my exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), my proposal was extremely abstract. I asked you to help me manufacture a drug affecting perception. How did you interpret this request? We call this a “project” in the art world and in science you call it a “problem.” Hunter Giese For me it was really easy in fact because you expressed your request as a problem. You said you wanted to make a mind-control drug. Immediately, we threw out any possibility of true mind-control. So the question then became: “How can we induce perceptions in someone?” We couldn’t get someone to fall in love, or relive their childhood, but maybe we could get them to see a colour the same way as someone else does, or smell something the same way as someone else does. So the problem was then as follows: “How do we actively record what someone else is perceiving?” You’d have to find a way to map out how someone else’s perceptions are attained, and then try to insert this schema into another person. AY It is a shadow, performative… layer. HG We may not understand how the links that constitute a sensory perception are formed, but we can try to understand where they are connected. AY I was interested in our initial conversations around mapping out how do we go about this preposterous objective. Ross McBee What we want is to succeed in triggering a particular


p. 88 Anicka Yi – Fat On Fat On Sugar On Fat (2016) Silicone sur panneau, fleurs artificielles, filament en nylon / Silicon on panel, artificial flowers, nylon filament ; 91 × 61 × 11 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & 47 Canal (New York) ; Photo : Joerg Lohse Spiros Hadjidjanos – Adiantum pedatum (2015) Impression 3D en alumide, couche d’aluminium / 3D alumide print, aluminum coating ; 29,8 × 23,8 × 4,8 cm Collection particulière / Private collection  Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist ; Photo : Matthias Kolb

89


Damien Cadio – Arouille, Hastingue, Baigts, Pimbo, Tupelo (2011) Huile sur toile / Oil on canvas ; 200 × 150 cm Courtesy Galerie Eva Hober (Paris) p. 96 Adrien Missika – Cactus Frottage C (2012) Tirage C-Print sur papier métallique contrecollé sur dibond / C-Print on metallic paper mounted on dibond ; 40 × 30 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & PROYECTOSMONCLOVA (Mexico) ; Photo : Patrick López Jaimes & Rodrigo Viñas

95


110

Masque Mariposa / Mariposa mask, Guerrero, Mexique / Mexico (avant / before 1990) 62 cm × 72,5 cm × 12,5 cm Don de / Donated by Esther Frid Samuel Frid Collection Photo : Kyla Bailey Courtesy UBC Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver)


111

The Camille Stories. Children of Compost by Donna Haraway The work of the biologist, philosopher and historian of sciences Donna Haraway weaves connections between theory and fiction, to examine the way the technosciences are making obsolete the great divides of nature/culture, human/nonhuman, or organic/technological. Her latest science-fiction story is a “speculative fabulation,” an inter-species tale which experiments with the new possibilities and the coming together of earthly beings.

A

nd then Camille came into our lives, rendering present the cross-stitched generations of the not-yet-born and not-yethatched of vulnerable, coevolving species. Proposing a relay into uncertain futures, I end Staying with the Trouble with a story, a speculative fabulation, which starts from a writing workshop at Cerisy in summer 2013, part of Isabelle Stengers’s colloquium on gestes spéculatifs. Gestated in SF writing practices, Camille is a keeper of memories in the flesh of worlds that may become habitable again. Camille is one of the children of compost who ripen in the earth to say no to the posthuman of every time. […] We were asked to fabulate a baby, and somehow to bring the infant through five human generations. Over the week, the groups wrote many kinds of possible futures in a rambunctious play of literary forms. Versions abounded. Besides myself, the members of my group were the filmmaker Fabrizio Terranova and psychologist, philosopher, and ethologist Vinciane Despret. The version I tell here is itself a speculative gesture, both a memory and a lure for a “we” that came into being by fabulating a story together one summer in Normandy. I cannot tell exactly the same story that my cowriters would propose or remember. My story here is an ongoing speculative fabulation, not a conference report for the archives. We started writing together, and we have since written Camille stories individually, sometimes passing them back to the original writers for elaboration, sometimes not; and we have encountered Camille and the Children of Compost in other writing collaborations too.1 All the versions are necessary to Camille. […] The Camille Stories are invitations to participate in a kind of genre fiction committed to strengthening ways to propose near futures, possible futures, and implausible but real nows. Every Camille Story that I write will make terrible political and ecological mistakes; and every story asks readers to practice generous suspicion by joining in the fray of inventing a bumptious crop of Children of Compost.2 The Children of Compost invite not so much fan fiction as sym fiction, the genre of sympoiesis and symchthonia—the coming together of earthly ones. The Children of Compost want the Camille Stories to be a pilot project, a model, a work and play object, for composing collective projects, not just in the imagination but also in actual story writing. And on and under the ground. Vinciane, Fabrizio, and I felt a vital pressure to ask our baby to be part of learning, over five generations, to radically reduce the pressure of human numbers on earth, currently set on a course to climb to more than 11 billion by the end of the twenty-first century CE. We could hardly approach the five generations through a story of heteronormative reproduction (to use the ugly but apt American feminist idiom)! More than a year later, I realized that Camille taught me how to say, “Make Kin Not Babies.”3 Immediately, however, as soon as we proposed the name of Camille to each other, we realized that we were now holding a squirming child who had no truck with conventional genders or with human exceptionalism. This was a child born for sympoiesis—for becomingwith and making-with a motley clutch of earth others. 4

Imagining the World of the Camilles Luckily, Camille came into being at a moment of an unexpected but powerful, interlaced, planetwide eruption of numerous communities


120 ADAM BROWN Great Work of the Metal Lover (2012) Vue d’exposition / Exhibition view, « SO 3 : Art, Biologie, (Al)chimie », 11. 04 – 25.07.2015, Espace Multimédia Gantner (Bourogne) Photo : Espace Multimédia Gantner Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist L’œuvre néo-alchimique Great Work of the Metal Lover d’Adam Brown héberge des bactéries extrêmophiles dans une atmosphère réduite et sans oxygène. La technicité innée de ces bactéries est souvent utilisée dans l’assainissement écologique des sols industriellement pollués. Le choix de micro-organismes capables de réparer les dégâts de l’humanité en période de crise écologique majeure n’est pas un hasard. Ici, ils produisent de l’or 24 carats, semblant ainsi résoudre l’énigme alchimique de la pierre philosophale. Ces particules d’or peuvent ensuite être récoltées afin de créer de petites pépites. Adam Brown’s neo-alchemical Great Work of the Metal Lover hosts extremophile bacteria in a reduced atmosphere without oxygen. The innate technicity of these bacteria is often used in ecological remediation of industrially polluted soils. The choice of microorganisms that clean up humankind’s mess in times of major ecological crisis is not random. Here, they produce 24K gold, thereby seeming to solve the alchemist riddle of the philosopher’s stone. These gold particles can then be harvested to create little nuggets.

THOMAS FEUERSTEIN PANCREAS (2012) Cellules gliales (nevroglie), bactéries, papier, verre, métal, plastique, équipement technique / Brain cells (neuroglia), bacteria, paper, glass, metal, plastic, technical equipment 230 × 800 × 200 cm Réalisation biotechnologique / Biotechnological realisation : Thomas Seppi, Department of Radiotherapy and Radiooncology, Medical University of Innsbruck Vue d’exposition / Exhibition view « PANCREAS », avril / April 2014, Kapelica Gallery (Ljubljana) Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist Les protagonistes de la sculpture biotechnologique de Thomas Feuerstein, PANCREAS, sont des bactéries génétiquement modifiées. L’artiste alimente des cellules gliales humaines avec du glucose jusqu’à ce qu’elles en viennent à former un cerveau humain, grâce à ces bactéries spécialement manipulées afin de produire du glucose en transformant la cellulose de livres déchiquetés en morceaux. Mais l’alimentation du cerveau artificiel suit un régime strict : elle est exclusivement constituée de la Phénoménologie de l’Esprit de Hegel. « La nourriture de l’esprit » devient « esprit de la nourriture ». Engineered bacteria are the protagonists of Thomas Feuerstein’s biotechnological sculpture PANCREAS. The artist feeds human neuroglia cells with glucose to grow into the shape of a human brain, thanks to specifically modified bacteria that produce glucose by breaking down cellulose from shredded books. However, the feeding of the artificial brain follows a strict diet: it exclusively consists of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: “Food for thought” becomes “thought for food.”


121

Biomedia beyond Forms: Art – Aliveness – Otherness by Jens Hauser By adopting biotechnologies as a medium, beginning in the 1990s, artists have shaken up the relationship between art and life. Going beyond representation and simulation, they have begun to manipulate living systems. Jens Hauser, a theorist and curator, here presents some of the elements at stake in this change of aesthetic paradigm.

T

he resolutely experimental trend of art, which has emerged since the 1990s, and which uses the most diverse biotechnologies as its material medium, poses a large scope of challenges to canonical art history, aesthetic theory, philosophy and epistemology. Contemporary artists who enter labs, or create their own, seem to upgrade art historical paradigms of “creation” while being particularly—and literally—“close to life.” Their biomedia include transgenesis, the synthesis of DNA sequences and their cloning into bacteria, the use of the innate technical capacities of bacteria or retroviruses, molecular biological imaging media such as gel-electrophoresis and DNA chips, so-called biobricks of synthetic biology, cell and tissue cultures in nutrient media, self-experimentations with immune biology, neuro-robotic constructions, hybridization and the cloning of animals and plants, as well as the recontextualization of laboratory model organisms, to name just a few. This “art of growing interest”1 harbors, however, a number of traps when trying to establish continuities of forms and motifs from Pygmalion to Frankenstein. Quite typically, cultural commentators neglect the analysis of these biomedia and their underlying processes’ significant underpinnings. At first sight, there appears to be a paradox that artists operate simultaneously with the fascination of staging “living” art, while highlighting its inherent biotechnological constructedness and, furthermore, emphasizing the continuum between species within larger ecological, and even post-anthropocentric thought. They aim at generating system awareness about the invisibility of the microscopic and the incomprehensibility of the macroscopic, by proposing procedural art works in mesoscopic compression that call out for putting our own, human perceptual habits into question; because we may have not yet understood that “living machines” today operate on scales very different from the mechanical, electronic and computational ones we know and can identify. Instead, with the advent of disciplines such as synthetic biology, “machines” may reproduce, proliferate and become pervasive while being largely unidentifiable. It is therefore worth addressing some of the subcutaneous aspects behind such art: - How has not only the staging but the very construction of aliveness been an ever-recurring fascination in cultural history, at large, and in art, in particular, connected to knowledge in the techno-sciences of its times? - How do such biomedia, used as artistic means of expression, relate to other types of media, and therefore change our understanding of what technical mediation is? - How does such hybrid art, referencing contemporary Science and Technology Studies (STS), and what some brand the “nonhuman turn,”2 open up perspectives to reconsider otherness and nonhuman potentials and agencies, via plants, animals and microorganisms? 1 Jens Hauser, “Observations

2 Richard Grusin (ed.), The Nonhuman Turn

on an Art of growing Interest. Toward a Phenomenological Approach to Art involving Biotechnology,” in Beatriz Da Costa and Kavita Philip (ed.), Tactical Biopolitics: Art. Activism, and Technoscience (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008), 83-103.

(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).


144

Francis Alÿs (En collaboration avec /  In collaboration with Julien Devaux) – Tornado (2000-2010) Projection vidéo à canal unique, couleur, son multicanal 5.1 / Single channel video projection, color, 5.1 surround sound ; 39 min Courtesy David Zwirner (New York, Londres / London)


168

Fabien Giraud et Raphaël Siboni, 1997 – The Brute Force (2014) The Unmanned, saison 1 épisode 2 / season 1 episode 2 ; Vidéo HD / HD video, 26 min Courtesy des artistes / of the artists


169


178 Surface du 3e degré (cubique) / Cubic surface (of 3rd degree) Institut Henri-Poincaré (Paris) Photo : Fabrice Gousset

Formulaire. Expressing Forms, Hearing Trajectories by Arnaud Petit


179

The composer Arnaud Petit sets his piece Formulaire (created in collaboration with the artist Alain Fleischer and the cosmologist Jean-Philippe Uzan) —an interdisciplinary encounter based on the mathematical models conserved at the Institut Henri-Poincaré (Paris)— in a reflexion about how music creates a dialogue between words, writing and mathematics. On looking over the history of western music—particularly the sort that arose from being written down (given that not all the world’s music is written down, far from it)—what struck me is that there are two powerful poles, which are apparently quite distant from each other. One is that of a spoken, written, uttered language. The other concerns processes, programmes, or what might be called algorithms. They are both at work today, and constantly observe one another. Musicology has shown how much the invention of written music over a thousand years ago owed to grammar and language (in the same way, but in a different respect, as with other types of musical notation which preceded it in Antiquity). The notes we know in their current form, which became stable at the end of the Middle Ages, are distant descendants of (grave and acute) grammatical accents. The very nature of musical writing came about from the close observation of the inflexions of a voice reciting a text, while uttering it according to a prosody controlled by the need to mark out its sacred nature. Then, later, as written music pursued its journey up until today, now freed from one of its initial ties, it could also seem to be telling us something, in memory of its origins as a “recitative,” closely linked to the initial text that sustained it. The frontier between recitation and music can sometimes seem slight (it is well known that, in medieval times, poetry and music functioned together, both governed by a single poet/musician, a sole artist fashioning the words and sounds). Musical creation was born from the tension between these two poles. Writing evolved from the graphic depiction of an object or idea. Then, thanks to this former step, a further evolution relaying a sound / grapheme, which could be associated with others in order to create a word, allowed western music to extend this extraordinary effort towards abstraction, on the basis of language, so as to arrive at the invention of what we call a “note.” These notes were then to discover that they had hugely subtle complex relationships between each other,

over the past millennium and even up until today. And these relationships in many respects are set at the crossroads between physics and mathematics. Notes, as we all know, can be designated in two ways: either alphabetically (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H), a distant descendant from ancient notations; or else using the version invented by Guido d’Arezzo in the Middle Ages, which is called solmisation (do, re, mi, fa, sol, etc.), conceived to represent these new notes. The former still dominates the English-speaking world, the latter the world of Latin languages. Over and above what might seem trivial here, and which has no doubt become so today, what the arrival of the “concept” of notes reveals is also a geometrical and spatial awareness of musical representation. This is because the idea of placing notes on a vertical scale, with a horizontal axis conveying their relationship with time, naturally associates low and high pitches with depth and height, with a manual gesture possibly accompanying this placement in space. The association of an abstract object such as a note with a gesture positioning it in space (referring to a harmonic scale in an immediately transmissible form) is no doubt also one of the inventions allowing us to connect our bodies to a geometrically organised world. But the most important point is doubtlessly the fact that writing comes from sounds. They are the elements that have allowed for the phenomenal degree of abstraction that our civilisations have arrived at. By mastering, classifying and ordering sounds, by having them correspond to particular signs, which have also become abstract after once been figurative drawings or ideograms, written language appeared, then far later written music, which in many ways is so different from the sort of music which just calls on the memory for its expression. Without mastering sounds, we cannot master the world, order it, or depict it. The word, and then writing, are basically about sound. It might even be stated that language proceeds from music, and it could quite easily be made to return there. The word would then simply be a step between musical states, the first one coming from time immemorial, about which we have no idea anymore, and the second one being extraordinarily constructed, present, moulding our imaginaries. We might then be able to explain why a small number of musical works seem to come from a universal time, evoking something that words, despite their extraordinary power, seem barely able to approach. There is no thought without sound. So it is that the sounds made by humanity invade space, be they musical or not, meaningful or not. Silence, that vital substrate from a sound can arise and exist in a recognisable form, is now quite rare. Thus, thought runs the risk of being masked, or no longer recognised. The archaeology of the future will perhaps consist in a recognition of intelligently conceived sounds, which may be musical, but which have been buried for centuries in an all-embracing din. For a long time, reading meant reading out aloud. There is just a step from letters to numbers, which was taken most radically during the previous century, but which has been present ever since music has been written down. Because what places each note in terms of the others, or the space separating them, can also be characterised by a number. To this number, a particular tension can be applied, expressed by their greater or lesser proximity, one from


194

p. 195 SMITH – Saturnium (2017) Photographie / Photography ; 80 × 60 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & Galerie Les filles du calvaire (Paris) Prix Swiss Life à 4 mains 2017


206

Jean-Luc Moulène – Bouboulina (2016) Mousse dure enduite et peinte, aimants / Coated and painted hard foam, magnets ; 53 × 60 × 102 cm Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & Miguel Abreu Gallery (New York) ; Photo : Nicolas Brasseur p. 207 Juliette Bonneviot – Xenoestrogens (Sweet Star | Rouge Fatal) (2016) Cadmium, aluminium, gomme en silicone / Cadmium, aluminium, silicon rubber Courtesy de l’artiste / of the artist & Future Gallery (Berlin) ; Photo : Matthias Kolb


Magazine PALAIS #25 (english)  

The magazine PALAIS is devoting its issue # 25 to the exhibition “Le Rêve des formes” [The Dream of Forms], presented at the Palais de Tokyo...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you