A solo exhibition of work by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, the internationally acclaimed French artist whose innovative work merges the realms of the musical and the visual.
Although exhibiting his work for more than twenty years in a contemporary visual art context, Boursier-Mougenot’s work is also understood as that of a musician and composer. Using various unexpected objects from which he extracts a musical potential, Boursier-Mougenot creates situations where sonic events take on visual form, or conversely where visual information is expressed acoustically. Calling on ideas about technological production, language, chance operations, and systems of translation, Boursier-Mougenot’s work merges multi-sensory phenomena with a cerebral investigation of the mechanisms of sight and sound in his given situations.
“As an installation’s sound and its appearance are for me completely intertwined and interdependent,” the artist has said, “it is not a question of putting a sound object on display, but rather to show the unfolding of a whole system, without concealing its materiality and in such a way so as the visitor can grasp all the factors at work. It is the visitors’ presence and their own experience of apprehending my works which gives the works meaning. This can give rise to a scenography in motion….”
Included in this exhibition is the artist’s impressive sound installation, indexes (v. 1)(2012). A grand piano is rigged to play in response to a live internet feed of stock market data from business news and financial information websites around the world. In this work the artist reconfigures a traditional musical instrument by inserting a software system of his own design, much as John Cage did decades earlier with his prepared piano compositions. The software that Boursier-Mougenot wrote links linguistic properties to musical properties, translating letters and phrases into pitch, repetition, and chords. Acting as conductor, composer, and instrumentalist all at once, the piece renders an in situ musical phenomenon that registers the daily activity of the stock market and plays it in song.
Also on view will be other major works by the artist such as“virus”, "solidvideo", and “zombiedrones”. These works, which go beyond the creation of sound installations, transpose the principles of feed-back and “translation” of media. Although sound is still present, the resulting images are not necessarily purely sound-based. What ties all these works together are certain systems the artist sets in motion and then allows to autonomously exist and evolve. Arising out of this impermanence is a certain muted and ever-changing beauty.