Prosopopoeiae : When Objects Come Alive

Installation exhibition featuring works employing Ircam Forum technologies.
Special mention for Octaédrite by F. d'Estienne d'Orve, L. Morciano & J.M. Fernandez
featuring Ircam Forum's Antescofo.


Prosopopaeiae is a stylistic device that consists of giving speech to an animal, inanimate object, dead person, personified thing, or abstraction

When objects come to life…
When the dead live again…
When concepts take shape…
The main source of inspiration behind this proposal is Philip K. Dick, the great paranoid visionary of contemporary literature, and in particular, the Dickian feeling that “something is wrong”, that the world is not what it seems to be but a stage set, a trompe-l’oeil skilfully devised to deceive the human species.


“Prosopopoeiae” will thus be the central theme running through the 2015 Biennial and its main exhibition at the CENTQUATRE-PARIS, the fiction of a skilfully orchestrated malfunction. Imagine meeting airport posters that do whatever they want (Signal To Noise by LAb[au]), extra-terrestrials that settle among us (Timée and Har de Guillaume Marmin), pictures that come to life, exoskeletons that come from hell to invite us to dance (Inferno by Bill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers), or works that try to escape from the exhibition (Nervous Tree by Krištof Kintera). Imagine a “Crazy Apartment”… Imagine chaos as an order that has not yet been deciphered.


The poetry of Prosopopoeiae consists of presenting a review of disconnected objects and a poetry of the machine, with its share of mystery, the organic, powerfully rebellious simplism and irrational logic. What we are proposing here is nothing less than the return of magic and aberration, which we thought we were protected from by science and new technologies. But then again, like Arthur C Clarke, you could say that “all sufficiently advanced technology is inseparable from magic.” We have adored highlighting this generalised distortion of the technical object into an aesthetic object, and these mechanical epiphanies light years away from the utilitarianism in the history of technical objects.


Some installations offer us the setting of a slightly modified reality, which benevolently accompanies or troubles us (Pergola by LAb[au], Élasticité dynamique by Étienne Rey and From Here to Infinity by Olivier Ratsi). But make no mistake – their hostility is sometimes manifest, and reminds us of all the terrifying rebellions of robots and cyborgs in the history of science fiction (Parsec by Joris Strijbos and Daan Johan; Nyloïd by André and Michel Décosterd).


All these works feature extra-terrestrial behaviours. And they will sometimes literally be extra-terrestrials: the interpretation of the intricate metallic ins-and-outs of a meteorite directly affects Lara Morciano’s musical composition. Have you ever seen such artistic involvement with an object from outer space before? (Octaédrite by Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves and Lara Morciano).


The rooms of our “Crazy Apartment”, presented in the stables of CENTQUATRE-PARIS, are highly symbolic of this generalised malfunction. As we know, furniture and objects in homes are symbols of convenience, order and a certain social hierarchy. The set-up here has none of this. The technician-artist has given these components artificial souls. A mirror that obstinately refuses to “be a mirror” is a reminder of an ancient order going wrong, despite mankind working for two centuries to produce a controlled environment. Why a wave of neon lights (Wave Interference by Robin Moody)? How can a sofa (from vaudeville) swoon, on a single leg, as a mistress would have done? (Balance from Within by Jacob Tonski). Are we always caught up in the imitation game, in an anthropomorphic system where humans play the leading role? Is the fight to the death between a refrigerator and a radiator, which do not seem to share the same vision of ecology, a point of no return for “the object designed to serve”? (My Answer to Ecology #2 by Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros). Is Michel de Broin’s flame-spitting sink (Étant donnés) a prediction of schistous incidents to come? And what about his polluting bike? Or the counter-performing, begging robot mediators of Pascal Bauer (Mon bon plaisir) who prostrate themselves before visitors? The public will not enter Steve Jobs’ apartment so much as that of Théophile Gautier, Joris-Karl Huysmans and Philip K. Dick.


All merit is due to the artists and their engineering. It just needed human intelligence and talent to give the subjective impression of consciousness in machines and objects – which they totally lack, of course.


Welcome to the techno freak show!

All the works in the exhibition :
À chacun son tour Edwige Armand
A day’s pleasure Jérémy Gobé
Art Student Marck
Balance From Within Jacob Tonski
BBot (BrowsingBot) – Anne Roquigny
BeautyRino Stefano Tagliafierro
Élasticité dynamique : Expansion
Étienne Rey
Endophonie Mécanisée – Edwige Armand
Hara –
Guillaume Marmin and Fred Marolleau
InfernoBill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers
I see I see I see Krištof Kintera
Keep on Smoking – Michel de Broin
Mécaniques discursives Fred Penelle and Yannick Jacquet
Miroir fuyant
Thomas Cimolaï
My Answer to Ecology #2 Charbel-joseph H. Boutros
Nervous Trees Krištof Kintera
Nyloïd Cod.act
Notre bon plaisir Pascal Bauer
Octaédrite Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves and Lara Morciano
Pergola – LAb[au]
RE: Bram Snijders and Carolien Teunisse
Rose Laurent Pernot
Sans objet Aurélien Bory
Sex SellsMarck
Signal to Noise LAb[au]
Tablespoons Samuel St-Aubin
temps!réelMaxime Damecour
Timée Guillaume Marmin and Philippe Giordano
Wave Interference Robyn Moody

Practical information:
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday : from 2 p.m to 7 p.m
During Christmas Holidays (from December 19, 2015 to JAnuary 3, 2016) : opened everyday except on Monday.
Prices : 9€ / 6€ / 4€
Free entrance on December 5, 2015 for the opening.
The exhibition catalogue will be available for sale at CENTQUATRE-PARIS

CENTQUATRE-PARIS