Art Avatar 2

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ART AVATAR 2
Pia MYrvoLD’s virtual worlds 

After presenting her interactive 3D art works in the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2014, Pia MYrvoLD now proposes a reconfigured second « version » at the Vitenfabriken in Sandnes, Norway. In the central hall of this venue dedicated to art and science, in the spirit of La Villette of Paris, Stargate dominates the space, a heptagonal portal showing colored animated images on a loop. However, the main action takes place upstairs, in a darkened room. The luminosity of the screens becomes apparent in the twilight. The colors jump out. The shapes multiply. The avatars twirl. Control interfaces await us. We are in the heart of the machine… 

Art Avatar 2 is more than just an exhibition, or more to the point it is not only an exhibition. The goal here is not to merely contemplate Pia MYrvoLD’s digital installations, but literarily to get involved in this graphical universe of changing contours. From the get go the visitor is invited to participate in the design of these evolving creations. The process is simple: with the help of a small interface, with a couple of clicks and configurations one can create an avatar. Egg-shaped, calling to mind certain creatures of the abyss, with tentacular excrescences or reactive filaments, this avatar then joins a gallery of (auto)portraits that gets larger with each participant.

At first, one can dance with their digital double by activating the avatar with a smartcard. The effect is captivating. In a lounge space, closed off by two video projection screens, one comes face to face with their creation… Synchronized with the visitor’s movements, the “thing” is animated, it comes forward, turns and undulates following its creator’s movements. The soundtrack, also modifiable according to chosen parameters, contributes to projecting us into the future. Let us emphasize once again the major role the music, most often post-industrial music, “plays” in this type of installation. Be it loops or more sequenced and rhymed patterns, it is not simply an acoustic dressing, it actually reinforces the immersion process. Carpets echoing the 3D motives of the surroundings complete the immersion in this virtual world by playing on the effect of continuity with the real world.

In the second stage, in another location, the avatars come to inhabit a kind of a virtual park into which one can teleport, move around, get lost… Over the exhibition’s duration this mirror space gets fuller and fuller, going from a blank landscape to an enhanced setting in a perpetual evolution. One can even come across one’s own avatar in the middle of a peregrination… Even though it is not the primary intention, it is impossible not to imagine that a VR helmet would be able to prolong this unique experience by completely (definitely?) plunging us into this garden of Eden 2.0 that evokes certain forgotten corners of Second Life.

Pia MYrvoLD, Art Avatar. Sculpture Parc. Photo: D.R.

Pia MYrvoLD, Art Avatar. Sculpture Parc. Photo: D.R.

Still, giving the public an opportunity to create avatars and to integrate them into a piece of art that actually becomes “plural” goes way beyond the simple interactivity that one can usually find in the digital era art. In order to describe this process, let us favor the notion of a dialog and of horizontality between the artist and the “visitor-creator” to that of a “co-creation” … A protocol that corresponds perfectly to the digital revolution’s modalities that go against any verticality and that offers an escape from the heavy aesthetic of “classical” art that one can merely contemplate.

Most importantly, the modalities of the visitors’ creation/intervention involve corporal movements, most often absent from their usual relationship with art works. Moreover, the playful and performative aspect erases the narcissistic aspect that one could suppose would be overwhelming in this relationship to the avatar. Even more so than Narcissus, it is Proteus that appears to be most pertinent to symbolize Pia MYrvoLD’s creations, according to Christine Buci-Glucksmann, philosopher and aesthetics professor.

There is a continuity in Pia MYrvoLD’s work, as is apparent in the other pieces assembled for Art Avatar 2. It is a fluctuating and colorful beast, a gallery of moving shapes like marine creatures, silkworms wrapped in their thread, suspended quicksilver sculptures, aquatic monsters, geysers exploding in slow motion or extraterrestrial beings levitating on the screens acting as multiplied mirrors. In this constantly renewing visual experience, these 3D sculptures retain reassuring curves, even if certain angular excrescences and sudden movements may appear menacing at times. The reason of this aesthetical “goodwill” can be found in the figure of the mother-deity, in Venuses so dear to Pia MYrvoLD.

First coming to light in the 80s/90s thanks to her multidisciplinary approach (video, design, electronic music, multisurface art works, interactive interface design), 2010 is a year of “a break in continuity”, with a deeper focus on sculptural 3D animation, interactivity and immersion. It is particularly the notion of the Virtual that she considers, beyond the simple question of the new technologies, as a scheme and an underlying condition of all mental creations and representations, be they artistic, political, social, religious…

Without leaving out the works that explore textures and light like the smart sculptures, Pia MYrvoLD will continue exploring the immaterial universe of the virtual and will propose other editions of Art Avatar that she conceives of as an evolving series of exhibitions navigating between virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality; questioning the real world. The key element of this questioning is the “mirror” where the avatars evolve, a bridge between real and virtual worlds. In the future, new and more complex environments will be able to enrich and intertwine the relationship of the public with the virtual.

Apart from Art Avatar and the Metamorphoses of the Virtual series of which she is the founder and curator, presented in Venice in 2013 and then in Shanghai in 2014, Pia MYrvoLD is also invested in other projects. Of particular mention are Syn-Energies, developed as a series of monumental smart sculptures that absorb energy through wind, solar, hydraulic or human interactions. First presented during the Art for Tomorrow conference organized by the New York Times in Doha in 2016, an initial study has been completed for Sun Trumpets. A 200 square meter installation for Qatar museums will consist of 12 towers generating energy to power the artistic events focused on new media.

WANDS, another series of smart sculptures based on the first generation launched in 2015 at Atelier Nord ANX in Oslo, is currently in the process of being funded. The idea is to go from the immaterial to the material for the new media art, to propose “plug & play” art objects for collectors, as well as event architecture based on multiple temporal and interactive parameters. Meanwhile, we can discover some of Pia MYrvoLD’s other pieces and installations at the Lélia Mordoch gallery in Paris starting September 21 (the gallery also represents her in Miami and is about to publish a book retracing her artistic career of the last decade), as well as in Norway during the two upcoming autumn solo exhibitions.

Laurent Diouf

Pia MYrvoLD, Art Avatar 2, until July 30, Vitenfabrikken, Storgata 28, 4307 Sandnes, Norway

Vitenfabrikken : www.jaermuseet.no/vitenfabrikken/pia-myrvolds-art-avatar-endelig-vitenfabrikken/

MYworLD Studio : www.pia-myrvold.com

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AUTEUR

Laurent Diouf had written 423 articles for Magazine MCD