The work contributed by Miguel Chevalier is an immersive multisensorial installation.
Visitors are invited to make their way into a dome and leave the physical reality of everyday experience behind them for a while. A second, smaller dome awaits them inside, to which two circular corridors, frontiers between the real and the virtual, give access. In the heart of this second dome, visitors are immersed in a multisensorial virtual space. Projected on the walls at 360°, the “Trans-Natures” digital installation calls first and foremost upon the sense of sight. After “Sur-Natures” and “Fractal Flowers”, “Trans-Natures” presents a new generation of fantastic artificial plants and flowers.
Music specially composed by Jacopo Baboni Schilingi accompanies the mystery of their appearance. To magnify the space, a glossy black floor creates a circular water-mirror effect that reflects the entire projection. Mirrors 2 metres high and set at 30° angles also reflect the projection around the dome’s entire circumference.
“Trans-Natures” is a poetic exploration of the link between nature and artifice. In continuation of an approach initiated in the late 1990s, it builds on observation of the vegetable kingdom and its imaginary transposition into the digital world. This artificial nature, whose forms are reminiscent of undergrowth vegetation, combines various species of trees, shrubs, twigs and foliages. Its development and shapes are inspired by “tree diagrams”, data-organisation systems using the principle of roots, trunks and branches. This nature with its sometimes realistic, sometimes abstract, forms is generated ad infinitum by means of software written by Claude Micheli. Plants spring up at random, blooming and dying at the dictate of various “morphogenetic codes”. The garden constantly renews and transforms itself. Fluid vegetable shapes unfurl in space while arborescences of abrasive branches grow relentlessly large, sometimes seeming to burst forth from the screen. The work plays with its visitors’ sense of spatial limits. Immersed in its enveloping sphericity, their conception of far and near is reconfigured, opened up to the infinite. The fact that the inner dome is insulated by a circular corridor enables visitors’ total immersion in this artificial paradise. The hemispherical architecture and system of mirrors does away with angles, pushing back the limits of virtual space. Visitors’ bodies are caught within a rain of vegetation that plunges downwards only to vanish away. Some plants become gigantic as they freefall, others fade away as they pass, like clouds of floral pollination, and still others vanish in the distance like fireworks. Visitors see the work’s hanging gardens fall. Its immortal flowers are fugitives, fleeing into the distance. The plants of light that close in on visitors seem to have fallen from the sky. Foliages, thorny flowers and arborescences swirl and intertwine in a mysterious vegetable ballet that fades into nothing. Their gossamer-light dance traces the outlines of a garden which, like a microcosm, seems to sum up the evanescence of beauty and of life.
Miguel Chevalier au Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, 2014 - © Eric Sander
Born in Mexico in 1959. Lives and works in Paris.
Since 1978, Miguel Chevalier has been using computer technology as a means of expression in the realm of visual arts. He is internationally acknowledged as one of the pioneers of virtual and digital art.
His multidisciplinary experimental work has its sources in the history of art, whose essential data he reformulates. His work tackles the question of immateriality in art, as well as such computer-driven logics as hybridisation, generativity, interactivity and networking. He focuses on a range of themes, including the relationship between nature and artifice, observation of the flows and networks that organise today’s societies, imaginary architecture and virtual cities, and transposition of motifs drawn from Islamic art into the digital world. The images he provides us with are an ongoing examination of our relationship with the world.
Miguel Chevalier has held numerous exhibitions in museums, art centres and galleries throughout the world. He also carries out projects in public and architectural spaces.