Eppur si muove

In the exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg the evolution of the relationship between art and technology follows a thematic, experiential and methodological rather than chronological order.

Trevor Paglen, Prototype for a Non-functional Satellite, 2013
“You are invited to come and see the earth turn”, read the announcement of a demonstration of Léon Foucault’s pendulum at the Panthéon in Paris in 1851.
In this exhibition, organized by MUDAM Luxembourg for the country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, visitors encounter a pendulum oscillating on a table in local clay designed by Sophie Krier. Its repositioning marks the point of origin and return around which the exhibition revolves.
Deux lingots foundue par la foudre
In apertura: Trevor Paglen, Prototype for a Non-functional Satellite (Design 4; Build 3), 2013. Mylar, acier, 365,76 x 365,76 cm. Courtesy l'artiste, Altman Siegel, San Francisco; metro Pictures, New York; Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne; Protocinema. Istanbul. Qui sopra: Deux lingots foundue par la foudre. © Musée des arts et métiers – CNAM. Photo Aurélien Mole
The first work in section one (Measuring the World) is Grönlund-Nisunen’s kinetic sculpture Antigravity Model (2005). A gyroscope representing a system of orbits “freed” from the force of gravity exercised by the central mass, it offers visitors a multisensorial experience and direct knowledge of its workings. The work ending the third and last section (Inventions Applied), by contrast, is Trophy (2012), a sculpture-installation by Conrad Shawcross featuring a robotic arm in a glass box that inspects a stag’s horns set on a pedestal. The horns represent those of Actaeon who, in Greek mythology, is punished by Artemis who turns him into a stag.
Olafur Eliasson, Trust Compass, 2013
Ólafur Elíasson, Trust Compass, 2013. Bois flotée, acyer inoxidable, aimants, 65x185x92 cm. Collection Mudam Luxembourg. Courtest de l'artiste et i8 Gallery, Reykjavik
The title of the exhibition “Eppur si muove” (Italian for “And yet it moves”) is the phrase spoken by Galileo in his own defence against the Inquisition’s accusations. It centres on the passage from generic movement to perceived rotation, from a multisensorial experience to a predominantly visual one and from knowing the world to portraying it. Raphaël Zarka’s picture traces the lines of the complex polyhedral forms inspired by the work of the English mathematician and astronomer Abraham Sharp (Geometry Improved, 18th century) engraved on oak planks. This is countered by Trust Compass (2013), a sculpture-navigational instrument by Ólafur Elíasson with 36 magnets clustered around a piece of driftwood, hung to represent the 360 degrees of a circle.
Damian Ortega, Miracolo italiano, 2005
Damian Ortega, Miracolo italiano, 2005. Cables en acier et 3 Vespas PX150. Collection Teixeira de Freitas. Depot 2006 Collection Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto
The evolution of the relationship between art and technology follows a thematic, experiential and methodological rather than chronological order. The second section of the exhibition (Matter Revealed) explores scales, optical and acoustic visual forms and invisible manifestations. It is arranged in the basement and the additional park space, where Miguel Palma’s Pays/scope (2012), a sculpture comprising a large circular mirror and a telescope, offers views of a building on the Saint-Esprit plain, capturing the image of a fluctuating landscape defined by a not directly human point of view. The passage from portraying the world to presenting its creation in the lab [1] is revealed in the Third Hand, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya video (1980) in which cyber-artist Stelarc demonstrates human evolution via its integration with machines.
Véronique Joumard, 4 ballons pour une piéce, 2006
Véronique Joumard, 4 ballons pour une piéce, 2006. 4 ballons eclairantés, hélium, medium noir, câbles électriques, dimensions variables. Photo André Morin / Le crédac
On the one hand, the exhibition brings together the fields of art and technology by highlighting shared experimental practices, intuition, observation, the creation of means of verification and the experience of sound phenomena, as in Carsten Nicolai’s installation wellenwanne lfo (2012), which makes imperceptible sound waves visible. On the other, it conveys the necessary complexity of this relationship and its social, ethical and cultural consequences, often reduced to dogmatic-evolutionist pseudo-certainties, as suggested by Perfect Time (8x3), Darren Almond’s incalculable time, illustrated via a board of ill-synchronized digital clocks.
Jean Tinguely, Fatamorgana, Meta-Harmonie IV, 1985
Jean Tinguely, Fatamorgana, Meta-Harmonie IV, 1985. 420x1250x120 cm. Collection Museum Tinguely, Bâle
The exhibition also traces the differences between the portrayal of technical-scientific progress and the appreciation of critical reflection, as indicated by Kris Martin’s Globus (2006), a globe with no map references which contrasts with the Theodolite and repeating circle (19th century) manufactured by Henry Prudence Gambery to measure long distances; and between the New Realism of Jean Tinguely – whose imposing  Fatamorgana, Méta-Harmonie IV (1985) “mechanical constellation” which makes real music is on show – and the evolutionary rationalism of genetic art, evoked by the spiral form of Simon Starling’s Wilhelm Noack oHG installation  (2006), consisting in self-replicating film reels.
Wim Delvoye, Chapelle, 2006
Wim Delvoye, Chapelle, 2006, Verre, chapelle en metal, 480 x 1080 x 705 cm. Commission et Collection Mudam Luxembourg, acquisition 2006. © Photo Rémi Villaggi

The exhibition also features a multidisciplinary workshop led by Paul Granjon to produce the robot-guide Guido, surrounded by a protective mesh that leads to Wim Delvoye’s Gothic chapel (2006), its windows decorated with X-ray fragments of the human body from Cloaca, a device reproducing the human digestive system.

By the end of the exhibition route, humans are no longer measuring the world but their ability to shape it and to place themselves at the point closest to the centre of the Earth and the role of creator in the never-ending process of perfecting it.

1 Roberto Barbanti, Dall’auto-referenzialità all’inter-referenzialità. La questione della complessità nell’esempio dell’arte genetica, in Roberto Barbanti, Luciano Boi e Mario Neve (dir.), Paesaggi della complessità. La trama delle cose e gli intrecci tra natura e cultura, Milano – Udine, Mimesis Edizioni, 2011

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