La Gâité Lyrique’s inaugural show is a digital celebration of what makes us human
Right this second nine people are thinking of you. This information is just one statistical factoid in an endless stream flowing around an LED strip on the floor of the new La Gâité Lyrique in Paris. The artwork, entitled In This Second, also includes awesome figures such as the number of planes airborne right at this very moment, and the amount of blood cells pumping through your heart. All told in the language we are used to from the tabloid media, but with a major difference: this information is affirmatively positive. Not so common to come across in the information age, it just makes you feel a little bit more alive.
La Gâité Lyrique is a stunning new digital arts venue in a disused 19th century theatre. Sensitively transformed by Manuelle Gautrand Architects, the space spans 8,000 sq m, most of which has been entirely taken over by this first major exhibition - ’Matt Pyke & Friends: Super-Computer-Romantics’. Like ’In This Second’, each one of the entirely new works created especially for the gallery is a digital celebration of what makes us essentially human. The results are pensive, beautiful, hypnotic and inspiring. Pyke’s own first dedicated exhibition is a grand success.
Pyke, hugely popular among digital art virtuosos, was listed last year as one of the top fifty designers in the UK by The Guardian. He is better known, however, as the man behind Universal Everything, a diverse studio with clients including the likes of Apple, Chanel and Nokia.
’Super-Computer-Romantics’ explores where Pyke’s work crosses over from design into art. Collaborating with his many talented friends and his brother, Simon (who provided all the sound for the exhibition ensuring it would be harmonious throughout the space), Pyke spent the last two years working on the show. With Jérome Delormas, general director of La Gâité Lyrique and guest curator Charlotte Léouzon, they have created a series of playful, philosophical and mesmerising installations. Among them, and perhaps the star, is a 3m-high walking monster that endlessly transforms itself. Familiar to many as MTV’s Mr Furry, in this installation he becomes something else entirely. Pyke, while taking us through the exhibition, points out that when the monster is static you can’t tell that he’s a monster at all: ’It’s only when he’s walking that he takes on any kind of anthropomorphic form’.
That’s true too of the creatures in Le Petit Salle. Visitors enter the room to be surrounded by a 360° crowd of primitive digital life forms, constantly evolving and dancing to tribal percussion in whatever way their particular code dictates to them. Elsewhere there’s a crowd of generative living sculptures, grown from code before being printed using stereolithography. ’We are on a constant quest to find new processes,’ says Pyke, who doesn’t stop at 3D printing - for another installation he somehow acquired UV-light sensitive ink-jet printer cartridges mail order from Romania.
On the positivity that infuses the show he explains ’We like to use technology in a playful way. I am interested in how the world fits together and I guess I’m naturally quite a happy person. It’s nice to be able to express that.’