Since the early 1990s, Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau have been developing complex interactive installations at the crossroads between reality and virtuality, science, technology, and art, with a focus on exploring the possibilities of artificial life.
The current retrospective at the OK Linz Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau: The Artwork as a Living System offers a comprehensive overview of the Austrian-French artist duo’s oeuvre and pays tribute to their life’s work as internationally active media artists, pioneers, researchers, and teachers of interactive art. They have been working in the field of computer-based installation art for a long time, conceiving novel ways to combine art and science that involve interaction, user interface design, and the exploration of artificial life and artificial intelligence.
Very early on, they used algorithms to represent not only the forms of the living, but also their evolution and growth. In fourteen installations, which are created only through the actions of the audience, man-made artificial systems are shown that exhibit behavior like natural living organisms. Technical devices originally designed by the artist couple produce virtual realities and immersive environments beyond the previous horizon of experience. Their works, now almost classics of digital art, open a new horizon in which artworks act as living systems.
At the same time, they are helping to foster the next generation of artists in this field with the “Interface Cultures” course of study they launched at the University of Art and Design Linz. Through international exchange projects with university partners, they have contributed not only to the basis for the Ars Electronica in Linz but also to continual advances in media art.
The exhibition is a co-production of the OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH, Linz; the ZKM—Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; and the iMAL, Brussels. A scholarly catalog in English will be published in the Leonardo Book Series in collaboration with MIT Press, edited by Karin Ohlenschläger, Peter Weibel, and Alfred Weidinger.