In 2017, the Centre Pompidou initiated a new event entitled Mutations/Creations, focused on the prospect and interaction of digital technology with creation; a realm shared by art, innovation and science. At the crossroads between fields, combining research, art and engineering, this annual event is co-organised by the Musée national d’art moderne and IRCAM, and calls on art, architecture, design and music.
This platform for solo and themed exhibitions acts as a critical observer and analytical tool of the impacts of creation on our society. How do various fields of creation use digital technology to open new industrial perspectives? How do they examine the social, economic and political effects, or the ethical limits of such industrial developments? What form do the mutations in the fields of music, art, design and architecture take, relative to techno-scientific progress? At the heart of Mutations/ Creations, the artist encounters the engineer, the philosopher encounters the designer, scientific innovation and technology draw inspiration from new thought, design and production processes.
In close synergy with the exhibitions, IRCAM presents Vertigo, its annual forum supported by the European Commission’s STARTS programme. This event host meetings, performances and shows in a dialogue between music, the arts, engineering, scientific research and new technology. The multitude of exchanges between creation, research and teaching is embodied by numerous partnerships with universities, research laboratories, and schools of art, architecture or design.
Each year, the "Mutations/Creations" exhibitions run alongside a programme of meetings and workshops designed to make the Centre Pompidou an "incubator", i.e. a venue to demonstrate prototypes and artistic experiments in vivo.
The first edition, on the theme "Digital Shapes", opened with the exhibition "Imprimer le monde" [Print the World]. Between speculations and concrete experiments, the digital technology of 3D printing launched a new industrial revolution. What is the new status of a work and its author in the era of automation of the creative act and co-creation on open source platforms? This group exhibition brought together a new generation of artists, designers and architects, who use the same digital design tools and have adopted 3D printing technology. A time line reaching back to the origins of 3D printing in the fields of art, design, architecture and science, the exhibition also presented new creations and acquisitions by the Centre Pompidou.
A unique retrospective devoted to the work of British designer Ross Lovegrove was held in parallel, thus opening a dialogue between nature and technology, and revealing a "holistic" vision of design through his visionary technique. As early as the 1990s, Ross Lovegrove incorporated digital mutations into his approach, advocating an economy of materials and nature-inspired forms. This exhibition highlights the new role of design in the post-industrial era, a period of shift from the mechanical to the biological.
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With computer coding as its core theme, the second edition of "Mutations/Creations","Code the World", in 2018, explored a form of technology which exists in all industrial sectors, has shaken up the fields of information and our cultural practices and has become a new universal language. Tracing its history and the way in which artists have made use of digital coding since the emergence of computers in the 1960s, the exhibition revealed a common aesthetic and critical world, which questions our daily lives irrigated by digital logic. Structured around 6 time lines, the exhibition showcased numerous connections in creative logics and provided an overview of what constitutes digital culture.
An exhibition by Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda, including two immersive installations combining perceptive phenomena and mathematical equations, was held alongside the event.
The third edition of "Mutations/Creations" retraced an archaeology of the living and artificial life in artistic creation. The exhibition "La Fabrique du Vivant" [Designing the Living] in 2019 presented the recent works of some fifty artists, designers or architects, in addition to the work of scientific laboratories. Biotechnologies are now a medium used by artists, designers or architects. Between the inert and the living, new intermediary states of artificiality emerge, challenging the notion of "life". Design now makes use of "biomanufacturing" and of new "disruptive technologies" around living matter. Bio-materials made from organic life (fungus mycelium, laminar algae, bacteria and yeasts, etc.) have led to new sustainable and biodegradable objects. The study of life behaviour (animal or plant) has inspired innovative architectural projects. In this era of digital technologies, artists draw on the world of biology, developing new social and political environments based on the question of the living. The very matter of this exhibition was changeable, as certain works underwent a process of growth or decay. The sound installation Biotope, by the composer Jean-Luc Hervé and presented by IRCAM, punctuated the exhibition pathway, like a living organism interacting with visitors’ movements.
In parallel, an exhibition of organic sculptures by the Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti explored the boundaries between nature and the artificial.