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“Hyper nature”: nature in all its seams

By interweaving digital devices with the dystopian moods of the Anthropocene and organic pieces where the design of objects opens up more poetic avenues, the exhibition Hyper Nature of the Nantes festival Scopitone gives an intriguing glimpse of the mixture of homage and fantasy that nature can arouse in the artist. On view until September 19

At a time when ecological and environmental values are asserting themselves at all levels of the economy and politics, the theme of the Hyper Nature exhibition at the Nantes festival Scopitone could almost sound opportunistic. However, the degree of abstraction and interweaving of the supports which shines through the majority of the pieces presented counteracts this fear by giving a general reading sufficiently intimate and mysterious to fix the rather fascinating general character of the exhibition.

The ambulatory journey through the different spaces of Stéréolux – the mother ship building of Scopitone – indeed instills a rather complex and intricate relationship with a nature interpreted here from different angles. Several pieces thus alternate homage to nature and artists’ questioning of our relationship to it, in the Anthropocene era when the human impact on our ecosystems becomes problematic.

Barthélémy ANTOINE-LŒFF, Tipping Point, 2020, glace, eau, verre © Barthélémy Antoine-Lœff – Photo : David Gallard
Cécile BEAU, Soleil vert, 2020, aquarium, minéraux, eau, algues, crevettes, néon, 30 x 40 x 40 cm © Cécile Beau, ADAGP Paris 2021
Sabrina RATTÉ, Floralia, 2021, animations 3D, photogrammétrie, images de synthèse, papier peint. Durée 4’00’’. Trame sonore d’Andrea-Jane Cornell © Sabrina Ratté – Courtesy Galerie Charlot, Paris

The miniature artificial glacier under a glass bell Tipping Point by Barthélemy Antoine-Lœff therefore refers to the time required for a glacier to be created… or to regenerate. the Green Sun by Cécile Beau replays in her aquarium the hymn to the earth of the mineral / plant / animal triptych by featuring a sphere of algae, submerged rocks and shrimp fossils. Screens and digital devices bring together the technological celebration of which Scopitone is accustomed under the same prism, as in the collection of virtual archives of extinct plant species from the Floralia by Sabrina Ratté.

Elise MORIN, Spring Odyssey, Triptyque 3, 2019-2021, vidéo, photo, plantes et réalité augmentée © Elise Morin, ADAGP Paris 2021
HeHe, Laboratory Planet II, Sick Planet-Catastrophes Domestiques N°3, 2018, aquarium, globe sur moteur, eau, LED, liquide fluorescent. Production pour l’exposition ''Eco-Visionaries'' à la HeK, House of Electronic Arts Basel, 2018 © HeHe

The questioning focuses in particular on the signals and indicators that nature can transmit to man regarding a rather worrying state of affairs. The very art / science project Spring Odyssey by Elise Morin – carried out in partnership with scientists from Paris-Saclay – thus relies on the creation of a plant reactive to radioactive stress, both transposed into virtual environments of augmented reality and into the reality of ” Red Forest ”of Chernobyl where she has also transferred. More allegorical, the terrestrial sphere enclosed in a box bathed in the fluorescent and cloudy liquid of the Laboratory Planet II from the Hehe collective recalls that pollution is now a global poison.

Quantum physics and electromagnetic activity: fantasized nature

However, the exhibition also knows how to blur the lines by putting into perspective the somewhat fantasized way in which artists draw inspiration from nature, and in particular from its invisible or inexplicable physical phenomena, in their work. A way for them to create scenarios for a speculative future in which object design takes a real place.

Guillaume COUSIN, Soudain Toujours, 2021, machine, soufflerie, fumée, aérodynamique © Guillaume Cousin – Photo : David Gallard
Claire WILLIAMS, Zoryas, 2019, sculpture verre soufflé, gaz rares, électricité, son © Claire Williams – Production Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains – Photo : David Gallard

The impressive fluid mechanics machine of the Suddenly Always by Guillaume Cousin thus creates by his chaotic smoke propulsions a systemic and organic environment referring to quantum physics and its unknowns. The atmospheric experiments of the device Zoryas by Claire Williams revolve around a matter-energy of plasma combining interstellar extraction gas (argon, neon, Krypton, xenon, etc.) and solar electromagnetic activity, introduced in glass sculptures where it reveals intriguing Electric contraction choreographies worthy of the famous Tesla coils. Sonified undulations – which Claire Williams still declines with her ondoscope, a device for capturing natural electromagnetic variations, in her other installation, The Aethers – that we can even hear tactile from the vibrations emitted from the circular listening table surrounding the work.

Justine EMARD, Supraorganism, 2020, sculptures verre soufflé, LEDs, tiges métalliques sur moteurs, machine learning © Justine Emard, ADAGP Paris 2021 – Photo : David Gallard
Laura COLMENARES GUERRA, Rios, 2020, sculpture (print 3D) basée sur la topographie du bassin amazonien © Laura Colmenares Guerra – Photo : David Gallard

In this register of design of objects and symbiotic scenography, the twenty robotic sculptures of the Supraorganism by Justine Emard is undoubtedly a piece of choice. Inspired by the behavior of swarms of bees, the piece combines blown glass containers and small intrusive mechanical and luminous devices by playing an impromptu collective score. A note of hope perhaps for a futuristic narrative less dystopian than that of other artists in the exhibition. Laura Colmenares Guerra for example, in whom the plastic expression takes the form of 3D printed sculptures giving a volumetric representation of the environmental threats weighing on the Amazon (deforestation, mining prospecting).

Laurent Catala


Scopitone Festival , Nantes, until September 19.