MATT PYKE AND FRIENDS @GAITE LYRIQUE
Sheffield-based Matt Pyke makes digital art that’s rooted in the physical. In his show Super-Computer-Romantics, organic processes (growth, decay), nature, or simply natural actions (walking, running) shape computer-generated ones. A series of people — dancers, actually — struggle against a digital windstorm that blows them, literally, to bytes. A mesmerizing life-size wall-projected walking man, his footsteps providing the drumbeat for a slab of noisy electro, is a constant mutation as his body shapeshifts from diamonds to fur to rainbow-hued electric hair. In an alcove, a series of winter-y trees find their limbs illuminated with electronic leaves when you step into the room.
Much of Pyke’s work (usually realized with one or more collaborators) is quite simple in concept, but it’s never facile in the way that some digital art can be. That’s because he is a master of scale — his pieces are installed with a feel for the dramatic. His soundtracks, which borrow from trance, ambient and industrial, only enhance his theatrical stagings while at the same time creating a meditative space for the viewer.
Here a new Paris museum, la Gaité Lyrique, has just opened: dedicated entirely to the digital. This is a legendary 1862 theatre transformed (for 83 million euros) into a Centre Pompidou for iPhone users. Among its features: art, music, games, films, talks and performances. Not to mention a library stuffed with books and magazines on fashion, style and design—in English as well as French. Also a bar in its most stunning space, where you can sip a cocktail in gilded Second Empire splendor.
Indeed, as I discovered today, you could do worse than an afternoon here on your next Paris trip, complete with a stay in that upstairs library, well-stocked with English language magazines on art, music, video, film and new digital culture. Read more about Pyke at his site. And click on the headline if you do not see the video below.