Philippe Parreno at Pilar Corrias, London

Press Release:

Pilar Corrias presents With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life, Philippe Parreno’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. Comprising new works, drawings, automatons, and an animation, the show is Parreno’s first in the UK since his 2010 solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery. The exhibition centres around the titular work, a new animation assembled from hundreds of drawings created by Parreno over the last four years, each depicting the same insect: a firefly or luciola (small light), that is brought to life on a large LED screen.

In this new film each of Parreno’s 227 drawings become an individual flickering frame of the animation. The repetition in making these drawings has become an automatic process for Parreno, like a machine or automaton, and the depiction of the luciola improves through reiteration. Parreno has systematically given away the drawings as gifts, spreading their way around the world in a process that he considers a form of Potlatch, an economic system of giving. Algorithms found within ‘The Game of Life’, a cellular automaton developed by the British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970, govern the structure of the film and reveal how complex patterns can emerge from the implementation of very simple rules.

Parreno has separated the drawings into different groups with each sequence of frames selected according to the individual algorithm at work. The lifespan of each sequence is determined by the rules of cellular automata and its survival depends upon the rules of chance. A sequence can live for a few minutes or for a day. As each sequence ‘dies’ one drawing of a firefly appears frozen on the screen for a short time. As well as creating its own life, the automaton also creates its own soundtrack as the light intensity is turned into noise.

In addition to this new film, Parreno transforms the gallery space visually and sonically. At the entrance is One Blind Sister (2014), a moving mechanical blind affixed to the main front window of the gallery and the first automaton encountered in the exhibition. The blind appears to dance to the sounds of the street outside. These noises are then translated, through a computer programme, into an ambient melody projected into the gallery space. The work both opens up and closes the space to the world outside, acting as both a connect and a disconnect.

In the lower gallery space, is a lone flashing marquee, part of an ongoing series Parreno has worked on since 2006, installed upon a perspex wall. The light of the marquee is blinding and it recalls the flickering fireflies animation upstairs. As the marquee echoes the film so the perspex wall echoes the transparent LED screen on which it is shown.

Hanging on the reverse of the perspex wall are a set of seven new drawings, depicting a garden that can also be viewed three dimensionally. The silkscreen and ink drawings have been overpainted from drawings Parreno originally created for his film C.H.Z. (Continuously Habitable Zones) (2011) that depicts a dead black garden in Portugal, which continues to grow to this day. The original set of C.H.Z. drawings have provided the ground for another series to evolve, like a cycle of life and repetition producing new motifs. In so doing the drawings mark the fourth automaton in the exhibition.

Throughout his practice, Parreno has fundamentally redefined the exhibition experience by exploring its possibilities as a coherent “object” and a medium in its own right rather than as a collection of individual works. To this end, he conceives his shows as a scripted space where a series of events unfolds.

Artist: Philippe Parreno

Exhibition Title: With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life

Venue: Pilar Corrias, London

Date: October 14 – November 14, 2014

© Text (press release) and images provided by the event. 

Images by Andrea Rossetti.