Press Release

Azkuna Zentroa—lhódiga Bilbao presents the retrospective exhibition The Artwork as a Living System. The exhibition provides an overview of the oeuvre of the Austrian-French artist duo Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau since the early 1990s. Drawing on natural science, technology, and art, they pioneered the Art of Interface, in which innovative technical interfaces enable the visitor to physically interact with the artwork.



International exhibitions

International upcoming exhibitions

Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau

Azkuna Centro, Bilbao(Spain)

07.02 - 26.05.2024




Very early on, they utilized algorithms in their works to represent not only living forms but also their evolution and growth. In their 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 that enable new kind of experiences, like exploring the growth of plants or the behavior of tiny computer-generated creatures, such as flies and beetles, and their embedding in complex ecosystems. Their works, some classics of digital art, open a new horizon 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.

The Artwork as a Living System consists of 18 works. Most of them are interactive installations where people touch and experience the artworks, exploring and interacting with the natural environments and becoming part of their simultaneous transformation in the digital space. An artistic experience that connects concepts related to the most diverse fields of science and technology: from the theory of complex systems to molecular genetics, Artificial Life and interface design.

The retrospective is a tribute to their Iife’ work as internationally active media artists, pioneers, researchers and teachers of interactive art, it comprises eighteen works from the years I992 to 2023 and for the first time makes the archive of the artist duo in an augmented reality environment accessible.

This exhibition is based on a concept by Karin Ohlenschläger and is coproduced by ZKM | Karlsruhe Art and Media Center, Germany, OÖ Landes—ultur GmbH, Linz, Austria and iMAL, Brussels, Belgium. It was initially curated by Karin Ohlenschläger, Peter Weibel and Alfred Weidinger.

The Artwork as a Living System has become a space of gratitude and remembrance for the extraordinary contributions that Karin Ohlenschläe (Hannover, Niedersachsen 1959—ijó, Spain, 2022) and Peter Weibel (Odesa, Ukraine, 1944-Karlsruhe, Germany, 2023) have made to the field of art, science and technology.

Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau

Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau are internationally renowned artists, media researchers and the pioneers of interactive art. Laurent Mignonneau studied video art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Angoulême, France. Sommerer studied botany and anthropology at the University of Vienna and sculpture at the University of Fine Arts in Vienna. Together, during their careers they have created some 50 pieces of pioneering interactive art that have been shown at 370 international exhibitions and have received numerous awards. Their interactive art installations are considered historical milestones for developing natural and intuitive interfaces and for frequently applying scientific principles such as artificial life, complexity and generative systems to their innovative interface designs.

Exhibition 07 February - 26 May 2024. Azkuna Zentroa—lhóndiga Bilbao, Arriquíbar Plaza, 4 - 48010 Bilbao (Spain). T +34 944 01 40 14. Hours: Monday through Sunday, 9:00 am to 9:00 pm





Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, Azkuna Centro, Bilbao, Spain

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2024. All Rights Reserved

Courtesy of Azkuna Zentroa—lhódiga Bilbao

Courtesy of Azkuna Zentroa—lhódiga Bilbao