Digital mental image trio Pierre Huyghe

Pierre Huyghe: Synthetic Data, Organisms and Systems

Pierre Huyghe was born in Paris in 1962 and currently resides and works in New York, USA. He earned his degree from the Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1985 and is recognized in the 1990s for developing the “post-production” approach, which entails recreating artistic forms from previously made movies and images from the media.

Over the course of his career Huyghe has built a body of work that spans a wide range of media and explores the complex and frequently contradictory relationships between people and the natural world and its intelligent and frequently puzzling systems.

Huyghe blurs the line between reality and fiction in The Third Memory (2000) by carrying out a hold-up sequence at a bank from Sidney Lumet’s movie Dog Day Afternoon (1975).Instead of retelling the actual bank heist in Huyghe’s movie, the protagonist who plays bank robber John Wojtowicz discusses how Dog Day Afternoon impacted him.

Pierre Huyghe The Host and the Cloud, 2009 HD Video

(Pierre Huyghe – The Host and the Cloud, 2009, HD, video, color, surround sound, 2 hours, 1 min, 30 sec)

Numerous of Huyghe’s innovative works contain elements made of living plants, animals, and insects. Huyghe examines the paradoxical gap between what we believe to be true about the world and what it can and cannot tell us through his various networks of objects and concepts.

Huyghe’s “post-production” technique, or the recycling of film and mass-media images, became his most well-known technique in the 1990s. More recently, he has mounted his work outside of museums and conventional art venues because he finds these settings to be too constricting. Huyghe has a long history of working on multimedia projects with other artists.

Most notably Philippe Parreno, with whom he purchased the AnnLee manga character’s rights in 1999. In several of his works as well as those of other artists, AnnLee has made appearances. In Parreno’s 3D film Anywhere Out of the World (2000), AnnLee declares that her ambiguous existence is exempt from copyright restrictions, drawing attention to the idea of authorship that is frequently explored in Huyghe’s work.

Digital mental image trio Pierre Huyghe installation

(Pierre Huyghe – After Uumwelt, Luma Arles)

In his project “UUmwelt” (2018) Huyghe collaborated with a research facility in Kyoto, Japan, where he asked participants inside of an MRI to imagine pictures of a time when animals and people coexist. Then, multiple neural networks were fed with an image of the brainwave pattern  captured by the MRI. We now have mental images displayed on LED screens that depict the fusion of biological entities, machines, and code.

In Mind’s Eyes (2020), we observe mental images that have been taken and copied from the subject’s mind and have since manifested physically as imaginative artifacts. They are physical deep image reconstructions made up of microbial aggregates and synthetic and biological material. They will change, deteriorate, and change with their surroundings throughout the show.

Recent exhibitions include Variants, Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker (2022), After , Luma Foundation, Arles (2021); UUmwelt, Serpentine Gallery, London (2018); The Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum, New York (2015). He was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, and in 2002, he was given the Hugo Boss Prize by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.


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