Creating the 30 years media art retrospective exhibition "The Artwork as a Living System" / Laurent Mignonneau & Christa Sommerer

In 2019 we were approached by the late curator Karin Ohlenschläger to realize a 30 years retrospective exhibition of our interactive media art works. For the title Karin chose "The Artwork as a Living System." It was based on a paper we wrote together with the Japanese curator Machiko Kusahara in 1996 (1). The paper laid out our artwork principle that combines user interaction with life-like algorithms and natural interfaces. The concept for the retrospective was to focus on 14 interactive artworks that display artificial growth, evolution, generative design and A-Life.

The co-production of the exhibition was done in collaboration with the the ZKM Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe), the OÖ Landes-Kultur GmBH (Linz) and the iMAL Brussels. The exhibition traveled from the ZKM in Karlsruge in 2022, to the OK Center in Linz in 2022 and to the iMal in BRussels in 2023. It will also be shown at the Azkuna Zentroa in Bilbao in 2024. In connection to the exhibition a large book was produced with the MIT Press bringing together all our artworks since the early 1990s (2).

In this talk we will speak about the details of organizing, producing and re-producing many of our media artworks from the past 30 years. We will share our experience and the challenges we encountered. The task is to share useful information with media artists, practitioners and curators who might encounter similar opportunities for creating media art retrospective show in the future.

(1) M. Kusahara, C. Sommerer and L. Mignonneau, “Art as Living System,” In: Systems, Control and Information Journal, vol. 40, no. 8 (Tokyo: Institute for Systems, Control and Information, 1996): 16-23.
(2) K. Ohlenschläger, P. Weibel and A. Weidinger, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau: The Artwork as a Living System 1992-2022, The MIT Press, 2023.

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