Press Release

The exhibition The Artwork as a Living System provides an overview of the work of Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau since the early 1990s. The interactive installations in the exhibition tell the story of almost 30 years of artistic work by the Austrian-French artist duo whose works are technologically inventive, scientifically instructive, and artistically imaginative. Moving between the subject areas of natural science, technology and art, they pioneered the “art of Interface,” in which innovative technical interfaces enable physical interaction between simulative visual worlds and the world of natural sensory organs. Very early on, they also used algorithms to represent not only forms of living but also their evolution and growth. In fourteen installations, which are created only through the actions of the audience, man-made artificial systems are shown that exhibit behavior like natural living organisms. Technical devices originally designed by the artist couple produce virtual realities and immersive environments beyond the previous horizon of experience. Their works, almost digital art classics now, open a new perspective in which artworks act as living systems. Few artists have shaped the transition from the moving image media phase to the living image media like Sommerer and Mignonneau.



International exhibitions

International ongoing exhibitions

The Artwork as a Living System

ZKM, Karlsruhe (Germany)

07.05 - 31.07.2022




Their media-art works based on scientific findings open up the possibility of exploring the growth of plants or the behavior of tiny computer-generated creatures such as flies and beetles and their embedding in complex ecosystems. Works such as Interactive Plant Growing (1992), A-Volve (1994), Life Writer (2006), or Portrait on the Fly (2015), which are in the collection of the ZKM, simulate living systems in which the touch of real plants, writing on a typewriter or moving in front of a screen generates transformations in digital space. The augmented reality installation AR[t]chive (2022-ongoing), presented for the first time in the exhibition, allows visitors to explore in AR Sommerer and Mignnonneau’ archive.

The exhibition Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau. The Artwork as a Living System is a co-production of ZKM | Karlsruhe, OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH, Linz, Austria, and iMal – Art Center for Digital Cultures and Technology, Brussels, Belgium. The exhibition is based on an idea by Karin Ohlenschläger. After the presentation at ZKM, the exhibition will be shown from September, 2022 to April, 2023 in Linz and consecutively in Brussels from May to September, 2023 (dates may change). Further venues may follow.

Curatorial Team at ZKM : Peter Weibel with Jessica Menger, Philipp Ziegler, assisted by Nina Liechti.

© Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau. Graphic: Leonie Rapp.

Exhibition 07 May -31 July 2022. ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Lorenzstr. 19 - 76135 Karlsruhe (Germany). T +49 721 81001200.  Hours: Wednesday–Friday 10am–6pm, Saturday–Sunday 11am–6pm.






The Artwork as a Living System, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2022. All Rights Reserved

© Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau. Graphic: Leonie Rapp.