Focus: La Gaîté Lyrique

With the remains of its 19th architecture combining a cold and vespertine aesthetics, a remote legacy from the 80s (gray hue, neon lights, geometrical volumes, mirrors…), La Gaîté Lyrique would have made a perfect Apple Store… After the excitement triggered by the opening of this new City of Paris Cultural Establishment dedicated to the artistic practices of the digital age, time has come to make a first assessment, to foresee some prospects.

La Gaîté Lyrique is being added to other art centres, too rare in France, such as Le Cube, in Issy-les-Moulineaux. It is at once a space for creation and exhibition, a place for life and experimentation linked to our times, but whose field of activity can not be viewed through the sole digital prism, as confirms Jerome Delormas, its director: there is no pure “digital arts” curating as such (what is digital art?!) at La Gaîté Lyrique but a cross-sections approach of creation in the digital age. The curating process will be eclectic and evolutionary. In any case, what is already known demonstrates a concern for considering space as a medium for exhibitions and the body as the main (but non-exclusive) interface. We have a very direct approach accompanied by decoding keys (lectures, workshops, resources, etc).

A mosaic of faces (Assembly), a rain of luminous filaments with post-industrial drones in its background (Ensemble), words in loops (Universal Building Gesture), inquisitive rays of light (Room 101): the first act opened with U.V.A. (United Visual Artists) who presented installations gathered under the topic Rien à cacher / Rien à craindre. (Nothing to hide/Nothing to fear). We shall further examine the work of this British collective in our next publication. On March 2nd, the opening of La Gaîté Lyrique was also paced by the disturbing choreography orchestrated by the duet I Could Never Be A Dancer, whose performers walked across the various rooms and floors with robot-like trepidations or long static pauses. Furthermore, as it is impossible to separate “music and digital culture”, the other important gathering of this early season at La Gaîté Lyrique was placed under German domination with Berlin Next… A series of performances, installations, projections and live-sets notably involving Jahcoozi, Pantha du Prince, Evol, Ricardo Villalobos, Pfadfinderei, Apparat and representatives of the famous Chaos Computer Club…

In the weeks to come, other events seem to consolidate this desire not to be completely confined to the gilded prison of a so called “digital” art. Thus, apart from a series of meetings and workshops, the April program will include a key event focused on video games, which will prolong “the spirit” of the German capital until the end of May, with Matt Pyke and his collaborators as “curators” for an exhibition (of videos, sound installations, objects, etc) one can only describe as “neuromantic”, at least from its title: Super Computer Romantics. More unexpected in these walls, the skateboard, an archetypal generational emblem, will be examined during the summer through practices, images, music and arts (graphics, fashion, design; etc) linked to it: Public Domaine - Skateboard Culture.

The Parisian microcosm who invaded the place at the beginning of March for its opening, having now left the premises, another kind of public and practices are settling in. Another way to “occupy” the place, a definitely livelier one… As Jerome Delormas states, the public is very diverse. Families, children, passers-by but also people who come for something specific. We are currently setting up an exhibition, therefore the public comes in during the day to the resource centre, the video game, the sound room (with a work by Scanner), to visit the historical hall (and have a drink), to go to the shop (Amusement @ la Gaîté Lyrique). In addition, we have begun our series of lectures, workshops, the TMP/LAB hacklab, a first concert… And we are filling up! The public is very surprised to find things it did not expect at all here.

These first days are enabling us to test the building and its fluidity. We have learned so much! A first “experience feedback” which validates confirmations, evolutions and, indeed, projects that are transformed through the experience of the building.

This experiment should expand with the coming series of concerts. Thus, as part of the carte blanche granted to the Lyons label InFiné, let us mention the re-union of Carl Craig, Francesco Tristano and Moritz von Oswald with their project Versus 2.0 which should mix electronic and classical music with the visual projections on the 360° screen-walls of the main hall. Besides, Moritz von Oswald will inaugurate the sound room of La Gaîté Lyrique. In this small upholstered space which would make schizophrenics happy, for almost for a week in mid-April, the cofounder of Basic Chanel will present a new creation in which listeners will be able to immerse themselves. Thereafter, DJ Spooky should present different environments, at the crossroads of electronic music, hip-hop and jazz. In addition, besides his DJ-set, Paul D. Miller, aka That Subliminal Kid, will give a lecture on his last book on musical recycling and its artistic and philosophical correlations: Sound Unbound -sampling digital music and culture (published by MIT, with forewords by Steve Reich). Also part of this very full program, a topical display, considering the glo-wing future in store for the Land of the Rising sun: La Zone (Tchernobyl). Conceived by Guillaume Herbaut and Bruno Masi, this installation interleaves photographs, videos and sound creation to daw us closest to the prohibited perimeter which surrounds the atomic power station. With the unavoidable interactivity, Net surfers are invited to write their own itinerary in the theatre of the greatest civil nuclear catastrophe in History. Let us hope reality does not catch up with their fictions…



La Gaîté Lyrique, 3 bis rue Papin, 75003 Paris < >

Published in the Digitalarti Mag #6.

Digitalarti Mag, the international digital art and innovation magazine.

Read the magazine for free online. 



Green fingers: digital and botanical art (1/2)

Artistic practices involving video, robotics and biotechnology have complete