Review /

Haroon Mirza LiFE / Saint-Nazaire

In the leviathan body of an old submarine factory resonates the unsettling pulsations of “/\/\/\ /\/\/\,” the reticular exhibition of Haroon Mirza in collaboration with architect Francesca Fornasari and musicians Nik Void and Tim Burgess. Replicating the thick envelope of the massive architecture of LiFE, an anechoic chamber encapsulates a scintillating fountain composed of two interlaced helixes of water, evoking the structure of DNA as well as the astrological symbol for Aquarius.

Through an immersive experience, Mirza convokes different physical phenomena, draws unexpected bridges from micro to macro and gives life to a vertiginous network. Indeed, here sound creates spatial forms as a way to represent the fabric of reality, a reality in which everything can be modeled as waves. Superposing different aspects of truth (physical and spiritual), Mirza seems to challenge our capacity for apprehending the world around us through interconnected works and media. As Lavoisier once said: “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed,” a mantra that is reified throughout the exhibition, especially via four large screens displaying multiple video sources (Ayahuasca rituals, the historical match in which AI AlphaGo beat professional Go player Lee Sedol, etc.).

Mirza concludes the show by reproducing the geodesic device situated at the top of the LiFE building. Within it, interstitial sounds from the above-mentioned videos are rebroadcast and transposed as erratic flashing lights. While this complex system is stimulating on a sensual level, it also draws multiple arcs between avant-garde sound pioneers (Alvin Lucier), Pictures Generation practitioners (Jenny Holzer, Gretchen Bender), cybernetic visionaries (Nicolas Schöffer) and various media theories. Borrowing from various fields of knowledge and transforming the result with a vast interdependent machinery, “/\/\/\ /\/\/\” is an arduous proposition, spectacular in scale and palatial in its multilayered scope — a kind of Rauschenbergian Oracle (1962–65) for the age of artificial intelligence and new cosmological paradigms.

by Pierre-Alexandre Mateos