With his exhibition entitled Digital Abysses, Miguel Chevalier takes over the monumental spaces of the Bordeaux Submarine Base. This show will present, over 3,500 square meters, ten monumental digital installations, as well as a cabinet of curiosities containing more than 40 new works.
Chevalier continues here his explorations of nature through the theme of undersea flora and fauna. The exhibition offers visitors a stroll between dream and reality, where they can penetrate into the heart of the unknown, just like with the great oceanic depths, 95 percent of which remain unexplored. Along the way, they will discover various projected interactive digital installations, such as Liquid Pixels, Strange Attractors, The Origin of the World, and Fractal Seaweeds.
Visitors will also discover the totally original interactive digital work Digital Abysses. This new work explores the undersea world in its diversity, particularly some forms of plankton, such as radiolarians. These marvels of nature composed of siliceous skeletons with sharp radially symmetric spines come in a variety of shapes. They fascinated scientists of the nineteenth century, such as Ernst Haeckel, who drew images of quite a number of their species. Chevalier transposes here the geometry of these extraordinary forms into the digital universe. The Digital Abysses installation is composed of several water bubbles around whose surface various radiolarians move. These variously-shaped “living” organisms in luminescent colors move about in real time and react to visitors’ movements. They move away beneath visitors’ feet, as if to emphasize man’s effect on nature.
Chevalier also reexamines, through this exhibition,“cabinets of curiosities,” which, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, designated places where one collected and presented a multitude of rare, novel, or strange objects, such as shells, skeletons, herbaria, fossils, or works of art. Visitors will find here contemporary cabinets of curiosities. Sculptures made with 3D printers, videos, photographs, a Dacryl-resin picture, laser-engraved drawings, and so on are inspired by undersea flora and fauna, specifically radiolarians, corals, algae, and jellyfish. Via ultraviolet lighting, these enlarged versions of living organisms become luminescent, just like various species in the ocean’s depths. Fluidly moving between reality and fiction, these cabinets create for us a sort of imaginary travel diary.
At the end of this itinerary, visitors will find some new works, such as New Atlantis—an imaginary city, in perpetual motion and self-transformation, that is evocative of the myth of Atlantis, an island engulfed beneath the waves—and Binary Particles, an installation made up of one hundred helium-inflated 0s and 1s that come to form a whirlwind of binary air bubbles.
Through the theme of the Abyss, the exhibition explores in a poetical and metaphorical way our relationship with visible and invisible living beings. In investigating the notion of artificial life, these various installations and artworks raise concerns about the fragility of these ecosystems and call out for the need to preserve biodiversity. They seek to recreate the conditions for a symbiotic relationship between man and nature.
(from the press release)
Miguel Chevalier, Digital Abysses, 2018, Base sous-marine, Bordeaux, France, 08.03 – 09.10.2018
images: (cover 1) Miguel Chevalier, «Digital Abysses», 2018, generative and interactive VR installation, music by Michel Redolfi (2) Miguel Chevalier, «Digital Abysses», 2018, generative and interactive VR installation, music by Michel Redolfi, detail (3) Miguel Chevalier, «Cabinet de Curiosités», 2018 – series of vortex