Exhibition by the École supérieure d'art d'Aix-en-Provence and AMI - Aide aux Musiques Innovatrices as part of the Printemps de l'Art Contemporain 2018 after a residency at the Observatorium de Haute-Provence 2017.
Redaction of the following text, available during the exhibition: ESAAix; Translation Milena Walter
In the Observatoire de Haute-Provence, nature and technology coexist and influence each other. This technology is at the service of biodiversity constrained by climate change as well as the most distant planets yet to be explored.
The visitor grasps the space through Milena Walter's immersive installation. The project "Concentrate", which combines sound and light, makes it possible to experience one day in the observatory, but condensed to 24 minutes. Here the sun rises to the chirping of the birds, marking its accelerated flight path and giving way to a noisy, mysterious night. The sounds of nature around us, mixed with those of technology, reveal a futuristic - sometimes disturbing - atmosphere that questions the future of an endangered ecosystem. Alternative timeline of a recent past, the installation suggests a slightly different future.
A series of strange spacecraft is added to these atmospheric data. Suspended from the ceiling, they are nesting boxes for birds. The shape of these birdhouses reflects both the architecture of scientific institutions and asthetics of science fiction. At the boundary between unusable models and habitable nests, these structures raise the question of their functionality. The materials chosen for the installation "Birdships" - wood, plastic, metal and polystyrene - also imply the problem of the health of bodies in their everyday environment.
These architectural typologies are clearly reflected in the installation "Raising the eyes". Here Milena Walter compares 56 plans of existing institutions. Observatories, astronomy centers, but also churches and monasteries have similar geometric shapes, and, meticulously retraced, all these spaces remain dedicated to research, whether scientific or spiritual. The series of drawings naturally creates a systematization of the architectures and becomes a catalogue of standardized, ready-to-use forms.
Next to these places are the reports. During her stay the artist took the time to listen to the visitors, scientific staff and technical staff of the observatory. By revising the collected data, she poetically processes the words of the observatory's users. The interaction between an architecture and its users is the core of "The Observed". The plastic form of the texts reproduces the visual codes of administrative signs. Typed and laminated, the spatial information no longer comes strictly speaking from a need for information, but is the result of exchange, meetings and personal reports.
The video projected onto the floor of the exhibition hall also questions the practical use of a place. The artist stumbels in the dark through the rows of the observatory's library, which has literally been lying in the dark for some time. The lack of light in the room renders the library obsolete and shows that research activities have clearly shifted from traditional locations to digital devices. As it moves forward, the camera instinctively moves towards the light shinging through the windows. Intentionally claustrophobic, the video multiplies. It unfolds on the floor, not without echoing the diffuse light that is filtered through the stained glass windows of a church.
Finally, the project entitled "Earth²" raises questions and presents the visitor with a mystery. A desk that has been abandoned since its last use provides information about its owner: newspaper clippings, personal data, notes, calendar, computer. What happened to that person? Could they have fled the Earth's ecological disasters to a new planet? For what other good reason would they have disappeared so suddenly? With this setting, Milena Walter presents a nebulous scenario and leaves it to the visitor to appropriate a fiction.