Entirely conceived in high-end Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI), The Owl in Daylight, 2020, is a new work in motion by Philippe Parreno. In constant evolution, the work is composed of 64 visual sequences controlled and juxtaposed by an Artificial Intelligence.
This moving tableau depicts a landscape bordered by a body of water. If at first glance the image seems static, subtle changes of light, temporality, and atmospheric conditions appear little by little: sometimes a city emerges in the distance before mysteriously disappearing in the following sequence, a row of lampposts extending across the water perhaps evoke the remains of an urban civilization. The visual and sound sequences are determined by the Artificial Intelligence. When transitioning between two sequences, the image of The Owl in Daylight sometimes blinks, flickers, as if the entity controlling it was hesitating.
Conceived by internationally renowned composer and sound engineer Nicolas Becker (Gravity, 2013; Arrival, 2016), the soundtrack consists of naturalistic sounds—such as an owl hooting in daylight, which gives the work its title—mixed with sirens and other ambiences as if a parallel temporality were unfolding off-screen.
The work is conceived using Bronze technology, a model of Artificial Intelligence developed by musicians Lexx and Gwilym Gold, and scientist Mick Grierson. The AI controls both the animation and soundtrack of the film. Philippe Parreno already used this technology in 2019 as part of his site-specific commission for MoMA, creating what he describes as an “autopoietic system, responding to itself and its surroundings endlessly.”
The meditative and surreal atmosphere of the work evokes Parreno's earlier films: Crédits (1999), El Sueño de Una Cosa (2002), and C.H.Z. (2011).
The work is titled after Philip K. Dick's unfinished novel that the American sci-fi novelist was writing at the time of his death in 1982.