Scanned forest, real-time simulation, generative mutations and sounds, intelligent camera, environmental sensors, animals, plants, micro-organisms and materialized mutations: synthetic and biological material aggregate. Courtesy of the artist, Hauser and Wirth. 3D Scanning, Pointcloud Visualisation and Engines by ScanLAB Projects © Pierre Huyghe

Pierre Huyghe to create site-specific work ‘Variants’ at Kistefos in Norway

8 February 2022

The artist’s largest permanent work to date will be unveiled in summer 2022

‘Variants’ is a multipolar entity that perceives, generates and modifies. It is simultaneously an island and what that island could be in an alternate reality.

The island has been scanned to become the environment of a live simulation. The two milieux, physical and digital, are permeable.

A fictional narrative gives a set of rules and prompts, played out by an artificial neural network that generates unpredictable mutations in the simulation, of what is present on the island, animate or inanimate, sounds or things, such as trees, trash, animals, or humans.

As contingent and fluctuant events occur within the island, in its geochemical or biological activity, the generated mutations change behavior in real time and the recurring floodwater accelerates their growth. The intelligences hosted by the spectral space are in an unresolved sympoiesis and permanent crisis.

Occasionally, mutations exit the simulation and manifest physically on the island where they sustain or decay, contaminating the existing reality with an unknown possibility of itself, progressively modifying the island’s appearance.

A path cutting through the island leads to a screen where the simulated environment is navigated by an autonomous and anxious eye, witnessing the island’s ever-changing nature.

As the flood submerges the island, it becomes inaccessible. But whether immersive or impenetrable, the indifferent entity continues.

Kistefos is situated in Jevnaker, one hour north of Oslo. Photo: Laurian Ghinitoiu

Pierre Huyghe lives and works in New York. Photo: Ola Rindal

Pierre Huyghe’s works are conceived as scenarios, excesses of fiction and often present themselves as a continuity between a wide range of intelligent life forms, biological, technological and tangible inert matter that learn, modify and evolve. They are permeable, contingent and often indifferent to witnesses. His recent exhibitions include ‘After UUmwelt,’ Luma Foundation, Arles (2021); ‘UUmwelt,’ Serpentine Gallery, London (2018); ‘The Roof Garden,’ Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015). From 2012 – 2014, a major retrospective of Huyghe’s work travelled from the Centre Pompidou (France) to the Ludwig Museum (Germany) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

Kistefos is one of Europe's most important sculpture parks for contemporary art. Built on the grounds of a historical pulp mill, Kistefos comprises a museum, two art galleries and an impressive sculpture park in scenic surroundings. Each year the sculpture park is expanded with a new commission.

Learn more about ‘Variants’ at Kistefos museum.