Fossilation at the Centre Pompidou

The Speculative Life Cluster BioLab presents the installation Fossilation at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris (February 1 to 14, 2021).

Details of the electronic imprints on the bioplastic membrane

As part of the Festival Hors-Pistes (The Ecology of Images, February 1 to 14, 2021) and the Matières d´image exhibition, researchers and student members of the Speculative Life Cluster BioLab co-present the artwork Fossilation at the Georges Pompidou Centre (Paris). Co-developed between Concordia University (Speculative Life Cluster BioLab, Milieux Institute), l’École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (Ensad, Paris, with the EnsadLab laboratory) and the University of Toronto Mississauga, the artwork is part of a research-creation project about the operative concept of ‘membranes’ (dir. Alice Jarry, co-dir. Samuel Bianchini and Marie-Pier Boucher). It was realized collectively — on both sides of the Atlantic — by Brice Ammar-Khodja, Alexandra Bachmayer, Samuel Bianchini, Marie-Pier Boucher, Didier Bouchon, Maria Chekhanovich, Matthew Halpenny, Alice Jarry, Raphaëlle Kerbrat, Annie Leuridan, Vanessa Mardirossian, Asa Perlman, Philippe Vandal and Lucile Vareilles, with the collaboration of Louise Rustan (Light Design) and Théo Chauvirey, Corentin Loubet, Joséphine Mas and Simon Paugoy (technical support).

Fossilation — bioplastic membrane, onions, residual energy sensors, interactive light system, 2021

Similar to a film roll, a large bioplastic membrane is made up of several successive photograms. Rather than being the effect of a certain photographic framing, these quasi-images come from a slow form-taking process: the imprint of obsolete electronic display devices (flat screen, cables, computer and its peripherals). Subtle light patterns animate the photograms and fluctuate according to the interference of residual energies captured on the building’s surfaces and heating/cooling pipes. The installation, in direct contact with the Pompidou’s infrastructure, configures an ecosystem where the image, which has become a material imprint, composes with different dimensions specific to its environment.

The mould before pouring a new bioplastic membrane

The large-scale membrane is made of a gelatine-based bioplastic — a nod to the silver gelatine photographic process — and is pigmented with natural onion skin dye. The photograms were cooked and poured into the silicone mould one at a time and then were allowed to dry completely on a rack. Finally, all of the photograms were stitched together to create the final bioplastic membrane.

Sewing the membrane required all hands on deck — photo by Vanessa Mardirossian

The project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC); The Chaire arts & sciences of École polytechnique, École des Arts Décoratifs-PSL and the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation; Hexagram – International Network Dedicated to Research-Creation in Media Arts, Design, Technology and Digital Culture; and Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology.


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