This digital artwork of a changing snake takes a full year to view – WWD


Imagine watching a work of art that changes gradually over the course of a full year, with musical accompaniment that also continually transforms.

Visitors to 3537, the historic Marais building hosted by Dover Street Market Paris, can glimpse real-time digital animation by Irish artist John Gerrard, who commissioned an original composition from techno deity Richie Hawtin. The installation – a large, high-definition screen facing a stack of speakers – debuted Wednesday night for a month-long residency.

The screen depicts an iridescent python eating its tail and slowly moving in an eight, the shape of infinity. Deploying gaming technology, Gerrard programmed a virtual camera to pan the snake at the speed of the sun arching over the earth, with light, perspective, and speed changing with the seasons.

Using a portable keyboard, he advanced rapidly from spring to winter, triggering a bluer light, slower glide, and a change in pitch and rhythm in Hawtin’s music. The latter is thanks to Bronze, a new technology that harnesses AI and machine learning to modify and regenerate a composition so that it is constantly renewed.

“There is no timeline here,” Gerrard explained. “It’s like producing this world as you see it. So it’s not a record, it’s not a movie or a video, it’s basically a simulation.

He described the visuals and the music as “a work of art, which is mixed by the audience as they stand between the speakers and the LED wall… You mix them in your own mind when you are there”.

Many of Gerrard’s works contain warnings about climate change, illustrated by his 2017 digital creation of a flag made of ever-renewing black smoke, planted at the Texas site of the world’s first major oil discovery, now depleted.

His “solar serpent” at 3537, moving under the sun in the form of an ancient symbol of birth and renewal, suggests that people ignore the rhythms of balance at their peril. His residency in Paris coincides with COP26, the United Nations climate change conference which will kick off on October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.

His exhibition at 3537 is part of a three-month cycle of exhibitions on the climate emergency entitled “Burns”.


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