Kistefos is proud to present Variants by the French artist Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962, Paris) as the 50th work in the sculpture park. Variants is a site-specific work made especially for Kistefos. It is Huyghe’s largest permanent work to date, and the most ambitious Kistefos sculpture park commission so far.
The work comprises artificial intelligence, 3D-scanned objects, living creatures and organisms, and offers something completely unique in the sculpture park. Variants is located on a previously inaccessible island that is often flooded. The location has been chosen specifically by Pierre Huyghe and required significant expansion of the landscape and Kistefos as a whole.
2021 – ongoing
Scanned forest, real-time simulation, generative mutations and sounds, intelligent camera, environmental sensors, animals, plants, microorganisms and materialized mutations: synthetic and biological material aggregate.
Variants is a multipolar entity that perceives, generates and modifies. It is simultaneously an island and what that island could be in an alternate reality.
The island has been scanned to become the environment of a live simulation. The two milieux, physical and digital, are permeable.
A fictional narrative gives a set of rules and prompts, played out by an artificial neural network that generates unpredictable mutations in the simulation, of what is present on the island, animate or inanimate, sounds or things, such as trees, trash, animals, or humans.
As contingent and fluctuant events occur within the island, in its geochemical or biological activity, the generated mutations change behavior in real time and the recurring floodwater accelerates their growth. The intelligences hosted by the spectral space are in an unresolved symposium and permanent crisis.
Occasionally, mutations exit the simulation and manifest physically on the island where they sustain or decay, contaminating the existing reality with an unknown possibility of itself, progressively modifying the island’s appearance.
A path cutting through the island leads to a screen where the simulated environment is navigated by an autonomous and anxious eye, witnessing the island’s ever-changing nature.
As the flood submerges the island, it becomes inaccessible. But whether immersive or impenetrable, the indifferent entity continues.
Pierre Huyghe bio
Pierre Huyghe was born in 1962 in Paris and lives and works in New York. His work is internationally known and presented in various exhibitions around the world.
Over the course of his 25-year career and across many diverse media, Huyghe has developed an artistic practice that examines the complex and often contradictory ways in which humans relate to the natural world and to its intelligent and often inscrutable systems. Huyghe has incorporated living animals, plants, and insects as components in many of his visionary projects. Throughout his various networks of objects and ideas, Huyghe explores the paradoxical rift between what we think we know about the world and what it can and cannot, in turn, tell us.
For Huyghe the exhibition ritual is not an asymmetrical experience but an encounter with a sentient milieu, that perceives, generates new possibilities of co-dependence between events or elements that unfold. The exhibition is an entity whose time and space in which it appears are constituents of its manifestation. His works are conceived as scenarios, excesses of fiction and often present themselves as continuity between a wide range of intelligent life forms, biological, technological, and tangible inert matter that learn, modify and evolve. They are permeable, contingent, and often indifferent to witnesses.
Recent exhibitions include After UUmweltLuma Foundation, Arles (2021); UUmweltSerpentine Gallery, London (2018); The Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum, New York (2015). In 2012 -2014, a major retrospective of Huyghe’s work traveled from the Center Pompidou (France) to the Ludwig Museum (Germany) and to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).