Artist Pierre Huyghe is known for his complex immersive ecosystems, creating impressive arrangements of space and material that incorporate living organisms, active agents and forces that gradually transform or reactivate the gallery in which its placed. For his new exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery in the UK, which opened during Frieze London this past month, the artist has turned the museum into a porous and contingent environment, housing different forms of cognition, emerging intelligence, biological reproduction and instinctual behaviors.
Throughout the Gallery space, a series of large-scale LED screens are filled with images that evade easy legibility or understanding. The images are blurry and alien, mixing together elements and parts that recall somewhat familiar forms, yet seem to shift and move anytime a concrete understanding is approached. These images began in the mind of a human, cognitive patterns used by . Brain activity is captured as a person imagines a specific situation that the subject has been prompted to think of. One by one, each thought is reconstructed by a deep neural network, a collection of artificial processing structures designed to process, and “understand” images. These images created are exhibited in the Gallery, where they are in a constant process of reconstruction, endlessly modified by external factors – light, temperature and humidity levels, the presence of insects, and the gaze of visitors.
Huyghe has then turned the images into the groundwork for a transformative, yet subtle, participation in the gallery. Sanding the walls, Huyghe has let the dusty remainders of previous shows remain on the floor, while allowing the main gallery space to serve as an incubator for thousands of flies, filling the space with a noticeable buzz and an often unnerving twist on the viewer’s perception of the work.
While Huyghe’s work has often embraced chance operation and participation from outside agents, this piece feels particularly noteworthy in his increasingly absentee status in so much of the presentation of each work. Orchestrating these parallel ecological systems ultimately creates a strange dialogue between elements and parts of the show, yet also dictate the space in which the viewer experiences the show itself. As each element collides and reconfigures the space around it, the gallery turns into an ever-shifting series of reliefs and fragments. Rather than create a space in which to appreciate a fictive construction of the world, or merely of the gallery space, the artist presents a new experience of reality, a world so reliant on the conditions of itself that the lines of experience and understanding eventually erode.
The exhibition is on view through February 10th.
— D. Creahan
Serpentine Gallery [Serpentine Gallery]