La Gaite Lyrique
Matt Pyke is one of the most innovative – and positive – motion-artists of his time. His approach can be described as both scientific and holistic, as the name of his design studio, Universal Everything, suggests. The striking variety of his artistic practices (product, print, branded art, tv idents, interactive design, shop installations, arts), has positioned Pyke as a global contributor in the diffusion and popularization of design and motion design. Forever, his generative audiovisual installation for the V&A museum, propelled him in 2009 to the forefront of relevant contemporary art.
Whether commissioned to do mass branding or experimental pieces, immersive environments or shop installations, Pyke’s creative process aims to blur the boundaries between genres and disciplines, labels and categories, arts and sciences. As such, Pyke is the poster child for the digital revolution, the hybrid resulting from coupling online communities with open source philosophies. His electronic parents are hacking and remix culture. Like many artists of his generation, Matt Pyke sows the seeds of a cultural renaissance based on sharing knowledge through his blog Everyone Forever.
Over the last decade, Matt Pyke has engaged in constant exchange and debate, setting people on the course of creation and communication through his studio Universal Everything. Driven by the excitement of learning, His creative process is flexible and associative. Pyke always looks for the appropriate skills to nurture any given project and often ventures in unorthodox collaborations. The title of the exhibition, Matt Pyke & Friends, is an example of his deeply open-minded attitude, always encouraging contributions and shared efforts. Through his studio, Matt acts in a spirit of modern companionship, always respecting the input of his collaborators ; hte master model deos not apply here.
The featured guests for the exhibition are part of Pyke’s cultural family. Like Matt, they’ve all emerged from the emerging zeitgeist, and are involved in both creative commercial projects and artistic experimentations. Marcus Wendt and Vera-Maria Glahn from the studio Field, specialize in digital arts and graphic design. Karsten Schmidt (aka Toxi), is a computational designer who merges code, design, art & craft skills. Paul Simpson and Norra Rahim from Realise Studio, an award winning 3D animation and VFX company, complete the exhibition
For the audio research, Matt Pyke once again calls upon his brother, musician and performer Simon Pyke, founder of the sound design & music studio Freefarm. In tandem, they seek ways to hear the inaudible and see the invisible in order to map them and create mesmerizing images and sound. Simon, who designed all of the exhibition’s sound installations, is also in charge of an immersive audio-visual piece in la Chambre Sonore. Contrasting with today’s individualistic artistic postures, this open-minded and open-source spirit could also explain why his electronic beauties are to be enjoyed collectively.
Motivated by the pursuit of the new – the challenge of finding originality when everything has been done – the enthusiastic search for meaning and depth is also a constant concern for Matt Pyke. Indeed, he wants to stay connected with the world – and the planet. His purpose is to propose, not oppose. In his practice, he seeks beauty, relevance and poetry – a desire to unearth nature’s innermost secrets. Fluent in the language of new technologies, Pyke works with computer programmers to rediscover nature’s processes and fulfill deeper human needs. With him, technology is domesticated with simplicity humanity, and a playful naivety, bringing humor to very immaterial installations.
Pyke is pantheistic. As such, he invents artefacts which reconnect us with nature and spiritual experiences, as seen through his algorithms which mimic the natural growth of trees, plants or neurones. His generative approach, christened Designing Seeds (Similar to Forever at the V&A museum), generally consists of simple shapes or colors coupled with artificially intelligent software, which, together, create complex behaviors mirroring organic systems. Electronic software simulates organic neuronal behavior, turning the piece into a system of unpredictable connections
Matt likes to play the demiurge by transforming data into DNA able to generate living artworks – endlessly – and strives to reveal the data’s emotional and metaphysical qualities. By setting growth parameters based on order and chaos, Pyke converts the computer into a fantastic and hybrid living organism: the program generates spontaneous and ephemeral forms which seem to live independently, like isolated DNA.
In his attempts to capture and tickle the vertigo we feel in the face of things infinitely large and infinitesimally small (energy, wave lengths, vibrations and resonance), Matt’s work stands at the crossroads of hard occidental quantum physics and soft oriental CHI (energy). Deeply at stake for him in all his endeavors are the ideas of “everything” and “absolute truths”, like infinity and eternity, these scary « holy grails of science ». Pyke uses modern tools and technologies to radically contradict occidental materialism and overvaluation of rationalism and to deepen his epistemological enquiries.
For his first major solo project, Matt Pyke shares these obsessions for life’s infinite movement by encapsulating a « digital’s breathe » in each of the 8 installations of the exhibition, offering each time a perpetually changing experience.
The Matt Pyke & Friends exhibition also concentrates the artists’s shared obsessions and skills : aestheticism, romanticism, optimism, science, love and infinity. “How far can we push ultra-positive, super-optimistic feeling ?“, was the question posed during the preparation of the exhibition. Obviously, Pyke wants to explore the potential for gaiety in new technologies by creating conceptual but lush pieces which are meditative and colorful, abstract, sensual and poetic while striving to be intellectually stimulating.
The Chambre Sonore immersive installations based on a surround audioscape of intensely detailed microscopic recordings of life itself, sets the mood for your entire visit. Here, a 3 meters high walking monster, endlessly transforming itself. There, a monolithic block invites viewers to peek into a singular experience – witness the birth of materials at a molecular level. On the mezzanine, stands a crowd of generative living sculptures, grown from code. Facing them, a huge projection of a never-ending procession of bodies, struggling against a hurricane of sound. The Coffee tunnel installation – with its evolving drawings, endlessly changes the room’s emotional state. The Petite Salle, Surrounded by a 360º crowd of primitive digital life forms, dancing ceaselessly to tribal percussion, reflects Matt Pyke’s interest in archetypes and primal sources.
Each piece can be considered a supercomputing beauty seeking emotional sensations and feelings whose magic breaks with rational functionalism. Remixing primitivism, minimalism, pop culture and 19th century landscape painting, the exhibition Matt Pyke & Friends takes us to a romantic theatricality reaching a subtle and meaningful relationship between technologies and the viewer.
La Gaîté Lyrique thus becomes a kind of oracle temple endlessly generating enigmatic allegories. A theatrical and magic moment, which entertains and brings warmth, thereby instantly gratifying for the visitor.
Charlotte Leouzon, Curator, Paris 2011
Creative Director : Matt Pyke
Sound Designer : Simon Pyke
CGI : Chris Perry / Realise / Thomas Eberwein
Design and Code (Communion) : Field
Design and Code (Voxel Posse) : Karsten Schmidt
Photography : James Medcraft
Curators : Charlotte Leouzon / Jerome Delormas