Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
February 3 – April 15, 2018
Artist Philippe Parreno (French, born Algeria, 1963) creates spaces that allow us to speculate about alternate worlds and states of being. He conceives his installations as stagelike mise-en-scènes where events unfold. This exhibition pairs two immersive installations by Parreno that explore how objects and environmental factors left to chance actively shape human behavior and the perception of the passage of time.
My Room is Another Fish Bowl consists of helium-filled fish shapes that have been delicately weighted to float at different heights. Circulating around these floating objects, the visitors have an experience that may be equated or contrasted with that of the fish moving aimlessly within the gallery. The fish move with the gallery’s air currents, visitors enter and exit, and natural light from adjacent windows shifts continually according to the weather and time of day. No two individuals’ experience of the space can be identical, nor can the ever-changing installation configuration repeat itself. The drifting Mylar forms and the museum visitors act upon and define each other, rendering both groups neither purely social nor wholly natural.
The 2014 video installation With a Rhythmic Instinction to Be Able to Travel beyond Existing Forces of Life combines drawings with a mathematical model, using modern technology to animate a historical concept. The drawings comprise over 200 unique images of fireflies. The model is the Game of Life, created by British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970. In this so-called zero-player game, participants create an initial configuration of “live” cells in a grid and then simply observe how the cells evolve following the rules of the game—for instance, a live cell with fewer than two neighbors dies. Parreno established specific correspondences between his drawings and various algorithms in the game. This renders the artwork a durational experience that calls attention to how new technologies have increasingly mechanized and automated our media-driven reality. The result is a study in technology, environment, and systems open to chance.
Image: Philippe Parreno. My Room Is Another Fish Bowl, 2016. Installation view of IF THIS THEN ELSE, Gladstone Gallery, New York, March 5–April 16, 2016. © Philippe Parreno. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.