Prosopopoeiae : When Objects Come Alive

Prosopopoeiae : When Objects Come Alive


From December 5, 2015 to January 31, 2016
What is it?
Prosopopaeiae is a stylistic device that consists of giving speech to an animal, inanimate object, dead person, personified thing, or abstraction

When objects come to life…
When the dead live again…
When concepts take shape…
The main source of inspiration behind this proposal is Philip K. Dick, the great paranoid visionary of contemporary literature, and in particular, the Dickian feeling that “something is wrong”, that the world is not what it seems to be but a stage set, a trompe-l’oeil skilfully devised to deceive the human species.

“Prosopopoeiae” will thus be the central theme running through the 2015 Biennial and its main exhibition at the CENTQUATRE-PARIS, the fiction of a skilfully orchestrated malfunction. Imagine meeting airport posters that do whatever they want (Signal To Noise by LAb[au]), extra-terrestrials that settle among us (Timée and Har de Guillaume Marmin), pictures that come to life, exoskeletons that come from hell to invite us to dance (Inferno by Bill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers), or works that try to escape from the exhibition (Nervous Tree by Krištof Kintera). Imagine a “Crazy Apartment”… Imagine chaos as an order that has not yet been deciphered.

The poetry of Prosopopoeiae consists of presenting a review of disconnected objects and a poetry of the machine, with its share of mystery, the organic, powerfully rebellious simplism and irrational logic. What we are proposing here is nothing less than the return of magic and aberration, which we thought we were protected from by science and new technologies. But then again, like Arthur C Clarke, you could say that “all sufficiently advanced technology is inseparable from magic.” We have adored highlighting this generalised distortion of the technical object into an aesthetic object, and these mechanical epiphanies light years away from the utilitarianism in the history of technical objects.

Some installations offer us the setting of a slightly modified reality, which benevolently accompanies or troubles us (Pergola by LAb[au], Élasticité dynamique by Étienne Rey and From Here to Infinity by Olivier Ratsi). But make no mistake – their hostility is sometimes manifest, and reminds us of all the terrifying rebellions of robots and cyborgs in the history of science fiction (Parsec by Joris Strijbos and Daan Johan; Nyloïd by André and Michel Décosterd).

All these works feature extra-terrestrial behaviours. And they will sometimes literally be extra-terrestrials: the interpretation of the intricate metallic ins-and-outs of a meteorite directly affects Lara Morciano’s musical composition. Have you ever seen such artistic involvement with an object from outer space before? (Octaédrite by Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves and Lara Morciano).

The rooms of our “Crazy Apartment”, presented in the stables of CENTQUATRE-PARIS, are highly symbolic of this generalised malfunction. As we know, furniture and objects in homes are symbols of convenience, order and a certain social hierarchy. The set-up here has none of this. The technician-artist has given these components artificial souls. A mirror that obstinately refuses to “be a mirror” is a reminder of an ancient order going wrong, despite mankind working for two centuries to produce a controlled environment. Why a wave of neon lights (Wave Interference by Robin Moody)? How can a sofa (from vaudeville) swoon, on a single leg, as a mistress would have done? (Balance from Within by Jacob Tonski). Are we always caught up in the imitation game, in an anthropomorphic system where humans play the leading role? Is the fight to the death between a refrigerator and a radiator, which do not seem to share the same vision of ecology, a point of no return for “the object designed to serve”? (My Answer to Ecology #2 by Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros). Is Michel de Broin’s flame-spitting sink (Étant donnés) a prediction of schistous incidents to come? And what about his polluting bike? Or the counter-performing, begging robot mediators of Pascal Bauer (Mon bon plaisir) who prostrate themselves before visitors? The public will not enter Steve Jobs’ apartment so much as that of Théophile Gautier, Joris-Karl Huysmans and Philip K. Dick.

All merit is due to the artists and their engineering. It just needed human intelligence and talent to give the subjective impression of consciousness in machines and objects – which they totally lack, of course.

Welcome to the techno freak show!

All the works in the exhibition :
À chacun son tour Edwige Armand
A day’s pleasure Jérémy Gobé
Art Student Marck
Balance From Within Jacob Tonski
BBot (BrowsingBot) – Anne Roquigny
BeautyRino Stefano Tagliafierro
Élasticité dynamique : Expansion
Étienne Rey
Endophonie Mécanisée – Edwige Armand
Hara –
Guillaume Marmin and Fred Marolleau
InfernoBill Vorn and Louis-Philippe Demers
I see I see I see Krištof Kintera
Keep on Smoking – Michel de Broin
Mécaniques discursives Fred Penelle and Yannick Jacquet
Miroir fuyant
Thomas Cimolaï
My Answer to Ecology #2 Charbel-joseph H. Boutros
Nervous Trees Krištof Kintera
Nyloïd Cod.act
Notre bon plaisir Pascal Bauer
Octaédrite Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves and Lara Morciano
Pergola – LAb[au]
RE: Bram Snijders and Carolien Teunisse
Rose Laurent Pernot
Sans objet Aurélien Bory
Sex SellsMarck
Signal to Noise LAb[au]
Tablespoons Samuel St-Aubin
temps!réelMaxime Damecour
Timée Guillaume Marmin and Philippe Giordano
Wave Interference Robyn Moody

Practical information:
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday : from 2 p.m to 7 p.m
During Christmas Holidays (from December 19, 2015 ti JAnuary 3, 2016) : opened everyday except on Monday.
Prices : 9€ / 6€ / 4€
Free entrance on December 5, 2015 for the opening.
The exhibition catalogue will be available for sale at CENTQUATRE-PARIS

5 rue Curial – 75019 Paris



Decembre 5, 2015 from 2 p.m to 11:30 p.m

To launch this major two-month exhibition, the Némo Biennial invites you to its preview opening, and to several performances with free admission:

  • At 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.: Nyloïd by André and Michel Decosterd  logo_prohelvetia
    For three sessions only, one of the most organic robotic performances ever produced: a fascinating experience staged by the Swiss duo Cod.Act. Nyloïd is rather like a gesticulating, murmuring robotised creature endowed with its own life and a dangerous form, which becomes obvious when you see its tentacle-like limbs tangling together at full speed.
  • At 9 p.m.: Physical, an audiovisual performance by Matthew Biederman and 4X
    Give free rein to your own physicality in the powerful electro show by 4X (alias Alain Thibault, also director of the Elektra Festival and the international digital art biennial of Montreal, twinned with Némo!) and Matthew Biederman (who is presenting another performance, Perspection2 at the Avant Seine de Colombes).
  • At 10 p.m.: Surimpositions by Lorenzo Senni
    To end this exceptional day on a high note, we have one of the year’s discoveries: the fascinating ritual of Lorenzo Senni who immerses us in a musical chamber version of a lyrical techno performance, with an uninterrupted series of riffs and layers of which we only hear the beginnings. Everything takes place in an environment of neon lights, stroboscopes and smoke, immersing spectators and encouraging profound and respectful attention to the music.

Practical information:
Free entrance

Bill Vorn et Louis-Philippe Demers, Matthew Biederman et 4X (Alain Thibault), Samuel St-Aubin, Michel de Broin et Maxime Damecour are from Quebec. In partnership with ELEKTRA Digital Arts Festival for Quebec Digital Paris / Île-de-France.


Lorenzo Senni , Nonotak, Frédéric Penelle and Yannick Jacquet (AntiVj), and Félicie d’Estienne d’Orves are artists from the SHAPE Platform. With Creative Europe, the European Union programme for support to the culture and audiovisual sectors.

Étienne Rey – Production Seconde Nature / Coproductions: Arcadi Île-de-France, La Muse en Circuit, centre National de création musicale, CNRS-AMU / INT, Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone Soutien / Supports : Drac PACA, Région PACA _ CAC art visuel
Guillaume Marmin – Timée: Music, Philippe Gordiani / With le Centre de Recherche en Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL) / Production, YAM. HARA: Musique, Frédéric Marolleau / Violon, Christelle Lassort / Coproduction, STRP Biennale, YAM.


Picture: Balance from Within de Tonski © DR