Pierre Huyghe’s magical milieu

Pierre Huyghe, Zoodram 4, 2011 (d’après La Muse endormie de Constantin Brancusi, 1910). Collection Ishikawa, Okayama, Japon.

The first time I went to the retrospective exhibition of the work of French artist Pierre Huyghe at the Pompidou Center, a doorkeeper/butler asked for my name. Too surprised to decide if I should or not answer, I gave in… to then hear him announce “Yasmine” in a very loud voice. Nearby visitors looked at me smiling. I thought that the next time I’d go, I’ll say: “nobody” – the next time around though, the persona had disappeared.

Announced like a courtesan entering Versailles’ Hall of Mirror, I got identified in the social theater orchestrated by an invisible puppeteer. I became Jane in a media forest (1) where everything, work of art, props or people, actants and hypertexts, created a space as fluid as water in a fishtank. From a particular angle, for a suspended moment, I saw the mirrored image of the muse of Brancusi’s double, home to a hermit crab, who seemed to be gazing out, reflecting on her fate (See picture above). The curious hybrid shifted slowly, so I went, guided by a change in temperature. The meteorological architecture of the exhibit enables what architect Philippe Rahm calls a “geographical détournement” (Rahm, 2001). Transported elsewhere, beyond the surface of the ice-skating rink where a female dancer was shuffling the air, an electronic sound echoed that of cash registers. It must have been the ice-cold air temperature, with the entertaining tile-matching neon lights fixed to the ceiling, and kids interacting with the connected gaming device. I felt I had moved from Versailles to a supermarket.

Invited in Pierre Huyghe’s magical milieu (von Uexküll, 1934/new edition 2010) I experienced contemporary space which is, as described in Ito’s seminal essay (Ito, 2011), comparable to a media suit, fluid as water (when at room temperature) and connecting.

(1) After Toyo Ito’s essay:  “Tarzans in a Media Forest”

Digital – Biodigital

A diagram for a class I give at l’ESA on digital architecture based on the teaching of Antoine Picon who writes that digital culture caused architecture to enter a crisis of scale and tectonic and that architecture is seeing a renewal of ornament [1]. The ornament versus cosmetic argument comes from a text by Jeffrey Kipnis [2]. My interest in mobility and ecology leads me to believe that architecture is actually going beyond ornament, and that we have integrated to our digital manipulations molecular scale and structure. This is what constitute biodigital architecture. You see how both are linked. To be continued!

[1] Antoine Picon, Culture numérique et architecture – une introduction (Birkhäuser, 2010)
[2] Jeffrey Kipnis, “The Cunning of Cosmetics,” El Croquis 84 (1997): 22 – 28