Opaque Plexiglas, lightbulbs, neon tubes, DMX
recorder, dimmers, transducers, light and sound
program, opaque acrylic chains
60 x 187 x 80 cm
Exhibition view: Philippe Parreno, A Manifestation of Objects, WATARI-UM, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2019–2020
Photo © Yasushi Ichikawa
“The exhibition is a space being: you have a space, a program, a script, and then things happen.” — Philippe Parreno
Manifestations is Philippe Parreno’s eighth solo exhibition with Esther Schipper. It includes works spanning various media: a granular soundtrack, a CGI film, atmospheric sensors, robotic systems, computer code, ice and water.
The exhibition connects “things” that, a priori, had nothing to do with one another; “things” that allow themselves to be summoned by repetitions, synchronicities, signals, or singularities.
Parreno creates events that respond to unfinished existences, lesser existences that need to be amplified and made more real. French philosopher Etienne Souriau (1892-1979) uses the beautiful term L’instauration to define the process. L’instauration is forever, indeterminate and uncertain. Manifestations of devices such as these whether a sound, an object, a situation or a landscape allows each to achieve “full radiance of reality” in scenes that are constantly replayed because they lack finality.
They all manifest themselves in a regime of alternating presence and absence, appearance and disappearance, a system of pulsations, fragments, fleeting flashes, intermittences; which, according to French philosopher Bruno Latour, all suggest the occult.
Parreno transforms his exhibition into a sympoïetic system, an exhibition produced collectively by the ajar assembly of objects. Every element of the exhibition has been conceived to be connected to one another, to look at, perceive, or see one another. This assemblage of objects constitutes an automaton that manifests itself in unpredictable ways. This Gamelan-like exhibition is not an orchestra made up of different instruments, but an instrument made up of different objects.
A Marquee in the centre of the space “sees” its surroundings and its own reflection in the mirror. Parreno’s Marquees do not produce music, but musical anagrams. Like the creatures invented by Stéphane Mallarmé—the Ptyx—, an object that exists only because it’s pleasing to the ear. Mallarmé describes the Ptyx as “Aboli bibelot d’inanité sonore” [“Abolished trinket of sonorous inanity”].
The Owl in Daylight (2020), a new film, is a CGI sequence of a landscape. It is an animated film without events, nothing happens, only time. Atmospheric sensors placed in the exhibition space create light changes within the image itself. The diegetic reality of the film hesitates, stutters and stabilizes at given moments throughout its sequence.
Iceman in Reality Park (1995-2019) is another work in the exhibition, a manifestation originally created for the 1995 group show Ripple Across the Water in Tokyo. The work reappears twenty-five years later. The ice sculpture of a snowman is displayed on a plinth and melts over the course of a few days. It leaves behind the stones that were once embedded in the ice. The amplified sound of dripping water echoes throughout the exhibition space. The cycle of melting ice defines and completes this series of manifestations on October 17, 2020.
“As long as it is understood that the riddle has little to do with mystery… Always waiting to be unveiled, riddles do not need to be elucidated but require a certain kind of attention, a fleeting attention.” — Philippe Parreno