Órganon

Solo show
Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier
September 18th to October 23rd, 2020
Series of drawings on iPad, fine art printings on vinyl, variable dimensions

The Órganon exhibition is unfolding on the campus of the Université Paul-Valéry with a series of 32 drawings created on iPad, printed on vinyls of varying sizes and installed outdoors: suspended in trees or buildings, laid on the ground, etc. This series is also an exhibition protocol, which emphasizes the specific qualities of a campus.

Their creation on tablet uses tools derived from analog mediums (pencil, airbrush, oil or wash shapes) transformed by digital processes. In Greek, the word Órganon refers to an organ, tool, instrument or logical sum. Here he evokes entities with ambiguous bodies, human or artificial bodies, which are beginning to proliferate on the campus.

The Watchers

Curator and apparatus Thierry Fournier
Works by Marie-Julie Bourgeois, Marine Pagès and Antoine Schmitt

Tokyo City View, 52nd floor of the Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo
Digital Choc Festival, Institut Français de Tokyo x Festival Media Ambition Tokyo
From February 23 to March 3, 2019, 10am-22pm

The Watchers shows three works of Marie-Julie Bourgeois, Marine Pagès and Antoine Schmitt, on the 52nd floor of the Mori Tower, overlooking the entire city of Tokyo. Each of them transforms the image of a camera that films the city live, and is displayed on a screen. The audience watches works that themselves watches at the landscape.

Each work proposes a specific relationship between near and far, surface and depth, space and horizon. Vanishing Points by Marie-Julie Bourgeois replaces the horizon and the sky of Tokyo with that of a real-time webcam located in Paris. Floating Bodies by Marine Pagès mask the entire landscape with a milky and translucent layer, except temporarily, where the spectator puts his finger. No Disc by Antoine Schmitt cuts out a large disc in the landscape image, that turns around itself in the curse of one hour.

Production: French Institute of Tokyo and Media Ambition Tokyo
Computer adaptation of the works: Mathieu Chamagne

Ces œuvres ont été initialement créées dans le cadre du projet Fenêtre augmentée conçu et commissarié par Thierry Fournier de 2011 à 2015 : en 2013 à la Friche La Belle de Mai à Marseille pour Marie-Julie Bourgeois ; au Château Royal de Collioure en 2014, pour Marine Pagès et Antoine Schmit.

Production de Points de fuite de Marie-Julie Bourgeois : Zinc et Bipolar, avec le soutien de La Friche Belle de Mai, Le Silo Ville de Marseille et Höfn. Production de Les Corps flottants de Marine Pagès et No Disc d’Antoine Schmitt : Bipolar, Union Européenne / FEDER, coproduction la Panacée et Château Royal de Collioure.

Machinal

Solo show
Villa Henry, Nice
Curated by Isabelle Pellegrini
March 25 to April 28, 2018

Isabelle Pellegrini presents Machinal at the Villa Henry, a solo exhibition by Thierry Fournier that follows her residency for the creation of En Vigie, associated here with three other works.

Today, many images are no longer produced in immediate relation with the human eye, but are produced autonomously by machines and programs. Most of these “assisted visions” are deployed in the military or on the web (Google, Apple, Facebook…), the detection and anticipation of behavior often using similar means for security or commercial purposes. These “intelligent machines” analyze images but can also perform autonomous actions, as in the case of UAVs. In this context, how do we still define ourselves and where does our responsibility lie? What is our role when we are dealing with systems that not only extend our own aim but anticipate it, even replace it? Do we expect machines to look at our place – even to look at us and define us? What are we trying to see (or not see) through them?

Thierry Fournier’s approach frequently posits the fictional hypothesis that things (objects, landscape, network, machines…) would have their own life, by creating situations of displacement or confrontation with them. With the exhibition Machinal, he brings together four works in which our gaze is inseparable from that of these devices. The term “machine” here refers both to a thought that no longer pays attention to its object (or whose attention is absorbed and captured by devices, as on the Internet) – and the look produced by the machines themselves, autonomously: machine as one would say animal. The classical frameworks of the gaze as perspective and horizon are then redefined as a territory shared, even negotiated, between our own vision and that which devices deploy on the world and on ourselves.

En Vigie / Nice (2018) is a generative video where a program scrutinizes a landscape of horizon, deploying a cinematographic suspense that invites us to espouse its own logic. The installation Just in Case (2017) ironically imagines that a program would be legitimate to detect if we are indeed human, riveting us to the spectacle of its calculation and waiting for its verdict. With Penser voir (2018), a surveillance camera targeting a beach in Nice testifies by a synthetic voice of its inability to detect anything. The series of digital images Non-Lieu (2016) uses photographs of bombardments found on the web and replaces everything that makes it possible to identify the place with a background pattern. Through this set of four pieces, the exhibition proposes a more general reflection on the links and limits between humans and machines, our responsibility and our gaze.

Talk with Fabienne Grasser-Fulchéri

A talk was organised on March 24th with Thierry Fournier, Isabelle Pellegrini and Fabienne Grasser-Fulchéri, curator and art critic, director of the Espace de l’Art Concret in Mouans-Sartoux. Full recording (French):

Catalogue

Pandore Édition publishes a limited edition catalogue, including a text by critic and philosopher Céline Flécheux (L’horizon, Klincksieck, 2014; L’horizon, des traités de perspective au Land Art, P. U. de Rennes, 2009), an interview with Isabelle Pellegrini and documentation on the works.

Exhibition photographs

En Vigie: video excerpt

En Vigie / Nice, generative video, with sound, looped, 31′, 2018 (extrait)

Axolotl

Thierry Fournier and Laura Gozlan
CAPA – Centre d’Arts Plastiques d’Aubervilliers

From May 5 to 28, 2018
3, allée Gustave Courbet 93300 Aubervilliers
www.capa-aubervilliers.org

The CAPA – Centre d’Arts Plastiques d’Aubervilliers invites Thierry Fournier and Laura Gozlan for Axolotl, duo exhibition in a Maladrerie flat in Aubervilliers, after a residency in April 2018.

The project Axolotl takes as its starting point a convergence between the approaches of the two artists: a principle of transformation of the living and experimentation of its limits.

Through a practice of objects, installations, prints, network pieces and videos, Thierry Fournier’s approach forms the hypothesis of a life of things themselves, to question the way in which they elicit a reconfiguration of identity and otherness. Laura Gozlan’s practice revolves around experimental films, sculptures, videos and visual installations. She is particularly interested in scientific utopias and their communities, exploring the links between counter-culture and posthumanism, new-age, cybernetics, and their dystopies.

The two artists know each other well. They first collaborated in 2013, when Thierry Fournier invited Laura Gozlan to Ce qui manque, a research residence and exhibition he curated at La Panacée (Montpellier): Laura Gozlan created the installation Remote Viewing there. This experience then initiated a constant dialogue on their work, fed by many areas of common interest.

Axolotl will bring together both existing pieces and creations developed by the artists during a residency in the apartment hosting the exhibition. This will thus be generated by the relations and crossings between their two practices, animated by the desire to experiment a common working time.

The exhibition takes place in an apartment in the Maladrerie district of Aubervilliers, where the CAPA has been established for many years, conducting an activity as an art centre while deploying activities for amateurs and local structures. His search for space for his exhibitions led him to propose a partnership to the Aubervilliers DPO which provides him with social housing between two rentals, transformed into ephemeral exhibition spaces.

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Thierry Fournier & Laura Gozlan - Axolotl

Photographs © Thierry Fournier and Laura Gozlan 2018

Heterotopia

Text by Ingrid Luquet-Gad published in Heterotopia, exhibition catalogue, Pandore 2017

Heterotopia

Is a space still a space if it is porous, reversible, atomized, or even temporary? To put it otherwise, what type of space could we assign to the skin, to a membrane, or to an interface? The first answer that would spontaneously come to a philosopher’s mind would be: none. Classical thought, which values depth over surface and essence over appearances, has always sought to pierce the outer layer of things. And yet, this outer layer does more than merely separate two environments: “it preserves the very balance and the exchanges between them; it acts as a hub where influences and reactions mix” (1). This first step towards a reevaluation of the concept of the surface can be attributed to the French philosopher of science François Dagognet. In the early 1980s, Dagognet, who was also a doctor, a chemist, a geographer, a graphologist and a seismographer, published Faces, Surfaces, Interfaces, an ambitious endeavor to reexamine peripheries. A “dermatologist of things”, as he liked to call himself, Dagognet set in motion nothing less than an epistemological revolution. We must stop lamenting the invisibility of a supposedly hidden meaning, as he used to say. Against idealists who see souls just about anywhere, it is imperative that all efforts to gain knowledge be directed towards a materiological investigation of living beings. For everything is accessible to those who know how to open their eyes: “I merely have to recognize the invisible, although we miss quite often what is near and what is available” (2). The surface would therefore be the only depth that we could study – and thus acknowledge.

Over 40 years later, the scope of Dagognet’s research has become more radical. Where it once concerned only living things, it now applies to any kind of reality. A striking example of this is the meaning of the word “interface”, which condenses these very mutations, as it has gone from being used to abstractly describe a separation between two environments, to its current meaning, which characterizes a reality per se. Thus, a technological interface, the most accepted meaning of the word today, now refers to human-machine exchanges. Once a simple separation, it has become an apparatus. Thierry Fournier’s solo exhibition Heterotopia acknowledges this recent transformation of the surface and the essence, and explores its different visual consequences and its emotional ramifications through a constellation of seven works. In the chapel of the Saint-Denis Art and History Museum, the artist has set-up these fictions whose human scale contrasts with the monumentality of the space. Created in 2015 already, Ecotone, around which the project hinges, is a networked installation where the boundaries between past, present and future, conscious will and mechanical activation, are liquefied. In a video projection, a radioactive-pink rendered landscape ebbs and flows along with the inflections of hazy synthesized voices. Slightly slowed, these voices from beyond the grave read live tweets in which users express their desires: “I’d like so much” or “I’m dying to” fuel the algorithm.

Ecotone, network installation, 2015, exhibition view

The users’ emotional investment in the network – made up of singularities that may be isolated, but are nonetheless part of an entity that transcends them – is addressed again in I quit. Facing their web cams, individuals who have made the decision to give up social media discuss their choice one last time – through the very social networks they are leaving. Pulled this time towards its unconscious side, the same emotional burden also appears in Oracles. Using Apple messaging’s auto-suggest function, a series of texts were semi-automatically generated and printed on plexiglas plates. The user’s idiosyncrasies are blended with suggestions culled from the most common wording choices, thereby illustrating the entire palette of the 2.0 standardized emotions. In order to pursue François Dagognet’s materiological investigation, one would have to treat this particular type of living entity as an augmented living entity, and connected interfaces as singular, full-fledged places. Like a membrane, the interface ensures the exchanges between the two environments it separates – in this case, the world of humans and that of so-called artificial intelligence – can occur. At the edge and the combination of these environments appears a new register of desires: the human being and its mechanical extension begin to share the same pulse, the same dreams, the same words.

I quit, installation, 2017, exhibition view

Oracles, installation, 2015, exhibition view

By saying that these interfaces are places, the Greek etymology of “topos” comes to mind. From the outset, they are re-integrated into the long genealogy of counter-spaces, utopias, dystopias or heterotopias so dear to the type of modernity that wants to move away from an excessively burdensome reality. Heterotopia, as a concrete materialization of utopia, immediately recalls Michel Foucault’s writings. More so than the “Other Spaces” he developed theoretically during a conference in 1967, it is the analysis of another type of space that must interest us here, such as hospitals and clinics. As they integrate surveillance and data-collection technologies into their primary functions, these epistemological and economic machines are already preparing to produce a future humanity that will be shaped according to specific criteria, taken as standards. Foucault was among the first to consider the possibility of an infiltration of political and economic power into individuals’ very flesh, and to develop a theory about what is known today, put plainly, as biopolitics. But when it comes to reflecting upon the overlap between architecture and social entities, philosopher and activist Paul B. Preciado goes one step further. Published in 2010, Pornotopia reveals how gender was manufactured and how masculinity was redefined in post-war America through the lens of a very particular construction: the Playboy Mansion, built in 1959, and later reproduced across the country with the Playboy Clubs of the 1960s. Born in the wake of the invention of the birth-control pill and of the market roll-out of medical derivatives of the types of amphetamines that were used during the Vietnam War, Playboy magazine and the architectural ideal it conveyed brought about a redefinition of sexuality. From the single-parent family living in a suburban house, the model of heterosexual masculinity shifted towards the trope of the bachelor in his urban garçonnière. For Preciado, Hugh Hefner highlights the transition from a biopolitical disciplinary – Foucauldian – regime to neoliberal pharmacopornographical economies, in which communications and electronic surveillance systems, along with the regulation of sexual hormones, are the norm.

The invasion of such techniques into the domestic sphere continues today with their epidermic infiltration. Manipulated by users, the interface provides them with information and directly contributes to the production of their subjectivity. There is no longer any need for architecture or chemistry: when we are in its presence, the digital membrane brings us blissful serenity or wrenching loss when it is missing. At first, we figured we were using this new tool as any other – having clearly heard Hannah Arendt’s lesson, which taught us that the tool was merely an extension of the hand. We then realized that we were its addicted subjects, rather than its masters and owners: a specific set of gestures had been added to our body language, as demonstrated by Futur Instant, with its casts of hand gestures frozen during swipes or scrolls, which become completely absurd when removed from their context. What happens next is nothing more than the outcome of the prophecy foreseen with the Playboy mansion. Regarding the Mansion’s technological setup – which involved telephones, alarms, surveillance and loud-speaker systems – Beatriz Preciado stated early on: “In the Playboy Manson, we are closer to the technological assisted organism of John McHale, Buckminster Fuller, or Marshall McLuhan: The screen-eyes of the house are no longer organs but media prostheses” (3). The display of skins in flesh tones seen in the installation Nude – where the synthetic and the organic appear to have taken part in some unnatural alliances – seems to support the author’s observation. We move from the biopolitical – which is dissolved in the body – to a re-localization towards the surface of the skin, the contact zone that leads to both addiction and pleasure when we connect with the matrix-machine. The “body without organs” of the modernity has become a set of organs without a body. Or rather, it has become a single, last organ that is the sum of them all: the interface.

Ingrid Luquet-Gad, June 2017

(1) François Dagognet, Faces, Surfaces, Interfaces, Paris: 2007 (1982), Vrin. Foreword to the second edition, p. 7.
(2) Ibid., p. 10.
(3) Beatriz Preciado, Pornotopia. An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics, New York: 2014 (2010), Zone Books, p. 116.

Nude, installation, 2017, exhibition view

Futur instant, installation, 2017, exhibition view

Heterotopia

Solo exhibition, June 16th-August 7th, 2017

Solo exhibition
Saint-Denis Art and History Museum
Invited by Synesthésie, art and research center
June 16th to August 6th, 2017

The Synesthésie art center presents a personal exhibition of Thierry Fournier’s work at the Saint-Denis Art and History Museum. For Heterotopia, Thierry Fournier uses the entire space of the museum’s chapel, occupying it with a large-scale apparatus that combines a networked installation and a number of new pieces.

Our experience of identity and alterity – in a broad sense – has been largely redefined as a result of our permanent exposure on the web and of our coexistence with entities that challenge the boundaries of human beings. Thierry Fournier explores these issues in a speculative manner, through a series of narratives that engage with each other.

The subjects, bodies and objects presented in this exhibition cover multiple statuses: desires expressed on the Internet are captured in real time and read by synthesized voices that generate an endless landscape (Ecotone); an apparatus projects into the space testimonials of people who have left social networks (I quit); a program queries whether its viewers are human (Just in case); smart-phones produce absurd poems (Oracles); a neon sign announces that it wishes to be concealed (Hide me); an installation composes an hybrid organism (Nude); hands modified by their gestures on interfaces (Futur instant)…

Through this set of works, the exhibition suggests a parallel space that is both utopian and dystopian, to which we are permanently confronted, and whose rules have already altered reality. Up against systems in which their imitation or replacement has never presented such a significant challenge, human beings are permanently interacting with the trail they leave behind on the network, with their images, simulacra or extensions.

A catalogue published by Pandore Editions includes a text by Ingrid Luquet-Gad and an interview with exchanges with J. Emil Sennewald.