Code Nature

Art Invents Nature

There is such a rise of artificiality in our world that we no longer know quite where nature has gone. If you drive the natural element out it does not necessarily come back again. This appears to be the new deal, which no longer has anything to do with popular wisdom handed down through the ages.
Man has put himself (and animals) in this unprecedented condition which is gradually invading our lives, surroundings and our very bodies. Our bodies, which have never before been so solicited and assailed by advice based on the beneficial effects of nature, while the artificial and the industrial triumph a little more each day both inside and outside our organs, muscles and neurones. Man is like a prosthetic man these days and the daily encounter of the living and the artificial on a silicon chip becomes a little more obvious each day in the advance of techno sciences and their applications.

This artificial nature is at the heart of Bernard Demiaux's work. He does not try to conjure up some lost paradise or golden age, in the melancholic mode of which contemporary art offers so many examples, but notes the metamorphoses of our environment into which technology is leading us. He records this in a cool almost literal manner, producing examples of morphogenesis or synthetic images from which all mimesis or analogical reference to nature seems to be missing. But if we look more closely and take another point of view, we are led to see that, these technologies based on pure calculation, because of their very morphogenetic power, generate shapes and objects which have an obvious affinity with things in the natural world. To the point where these images can easily be identified in natural terms, in a sort of ironic reversal (although it is only an extension of the point of view which maintains that Cézanne invented Mont Sainte-Victoire). Retrospectively they justify Galileo for whom "nature is written in mathematical language".

They invite us to relativise what we believed to be the natural world and which is in fact an image forged by man to clear his name of the domestication that he has imposed on his environment and himself. Wild nature is a recent invention which coincides with the shift from cottage industries to the industrial age. And man is in fact this animal born naked and unable to adapt without the help of technology, which is in a sense organically and originally linked to his destiny.
These images show the deep link which binds technology and nature, the living and the artificial. To the extent that the conflicting relationships that have always existed between the two terms of this founding couple make us think that, as in a transductive relationship, the two terms of the relationship create one another in the dynamics of the relationship itself. That nature and artifice invent one another within the relationship which binds them together.
This transductive interpretation of Demiaux's images, which here is borrowed from Gilbert Simondon's theories, is applied literally to the objects resulting from it: the flower is created in the calculation which gives birth to it and which generates itself from its own model of generativity. It suggests that the living is nothing without the calculation which brings it into being and that the calculation is nothing without the living form in which it is realised. Technique invents art and art invents nature.


Norbert Hillaire, communications theorist and art critic, a lecturer at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis