a B I O T I C

February 4 - April 23, 2023

..all of life together consists of a membrane around earth so thin that it cannot be seen edgewise from a satellite yet so prodigiously diverse that only a tiny fraction of species have been discovered and named. E.O. Wilson

Before biosphere, before life, there were only the non-living, abiotic factors and a world of water.

The three installations in aBIOTIC abstract and synthesize the ethereal, scientific and mysterious behaviours of water. Technology, sound, chemistry and time are used to further reveal or extend fundamental patterns and laws..

In this exhibition phases of water are a physical, chemical and structural material to be used as an expressive and conceptual tool: liquid, gas, solid; water, steam, bubbles, ice. We see water mirrored, suspended, projected and directed. Water is the surface, the object and the medium, over, through and around which play precise exchanges of light, movement and sound. Manufactured, incidental and composed sound is integrated into this watery fabric becoming a defining component of each installation.

The first work one encounters is The Long Now (2015), by Cologne-based Verena Friedrich. The intimate gallery, at the centre of the exhibition, contains this technology-based still-life, framed inside a clear perspex box, sitting on a table. A single, perfect bubble floats, persisting long after all other bubbles would have collapsed; the artificial atmosphere holds it aloft for a variable and uncertain length of time. Friedrich’s innovative use of technology & science greatly prolongs the normal life of each fragile sphere. But it eventually succumbs. The technology that produces the bubble and evacuates the atmosphere is triggered again and again; the brief, violent sound of working technology...followed by... the wonder. The work builds on a long art tradition of depicting soap bubbles in still life & portraiture. Known as Vanitas, the bubble serves to remind us that life is transient and our demise is certain.

Spanning another isolated, gallery space is Sky (2022-23), by Paris-based LABOFACTORY. Jean Marc Chomaz, Laurent Karst, Filippo Fabbri (composition) and Greg Louis, all currently reside in Paris. Sky is a kinetic, sculptural composition framed inside a long, raised, rectangular tray. This landscape with sound relies on the complex technological manipulation of steam or mist to produce intentional, ever-changing patterns and behaviours evoking a changing timeline of sky or ocean currents. A digital soundscape unique to New Media Gallery will be composed by Filippo Fabbri in the week leading up to the exhibition in response to this moment in time and the surrounding environment.

The largest gallery contains Infra/Supra (2016/2022) by Icelandic artist, Finnbogi Pétursson. Spanning one wall is an expansive, shallow, ground-level pool, filled with water and black ink and subjected to a precise calculation of sound vibration and light. The resulting hypnotic soundscape incorporates a series of speakers delivering the equivalent of three hertz of composed, sound vibration over and into the planar water surface. The pulsating waves generate a series of intentional, ever-expanding concentric circles and patterns on the water surface. Lighting projects these patterns onto the wall as moving tidal lines and shadows, or ‘drawings’.

Three remarkable physical art environments. Durational works that encourage us to observe emergent behaviours, causal effects and interrupted processes. Conceptually rich, they convey primordial beginnings and landscapes, environmental systems and conditions, a world or life held in fragile balance, and perhaps the potential for technology to affect positive change.

Verena Friedrich

The Long Now (2015)

A soap bubble usually remains stable for only a few moments – it is a perfectly formed sphere with an iridescent surface that reflects its surroundings. As one of the classical vanitas symbols the soap bubble traditionally stands for the transience of the moment and the fragility of life.

THE LONG NOW approaches the soap bubble from a contemporary perspective – with reference to its chemical and physical properties as well as recent scientific and technological developments.

THE LONG NOW is aimed at extending the lifespan of a soap bubble, or even to preserve it forever. Using an improved formula, a machine generates a bubble, sends it to a chamber with a controlled atmosphere and keeps it there in suspension for as long as possible. The project is presented in the form of an experimental set-up in which the newly created soap bubble oscillates permanently between fragility and stability.

The Long Now

Verena Friedrich/

Verena Friedrich is an artist creating time-based installations in which organic, electronic and sculptural media come into play. Theoretical research and practical hands-on experiments are the starting points of her artistic work.

Furthermore, she is interested in direct interaction with scientists and hands-on work in the bioscientific laboratory. She was an artist in residence i. a. at “SymbioticA – Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts” at the University of Western Australia and at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing Cologne in Germany.

Verena Friedrich´s projects have been presented internationally in the context of exhibitions, media art festivals and conferences. She received the International Media Award for Science and Art from ZKM Karlsruhe 2005; a special mention in the VIDA 13.2 Art and Artificial Life Awards; an honorary mention in the Prix Ars Electronica 2015; a jury mention in the Japan Media Arts Festival 2015 and the Transitio_MX award in 2017.

In recent years she has been teaching at the University of Art and Design Offenbach and the Bauhaus University Weimar, both in Germany. Together with two other colleagues she is currently running the „exMedia Lab“ (her focus being on DIY technologies, biological and ecological arts) at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.


Realised within the framework of EMARE Move On at OBORO’s New Media Lab and a residency at Rustines|Lab, Perte de Signal, both in Montréal, Canada. With support of the Culture Programme of the European Commission, the Goethe Institut, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and FACT.


Sky (2022-2223)
SKY questions our relationship and responsibility towards natural phenomena in the sky such as cloud formation and flow wind dynamics water vapour formation and condensation absorption transmission refraction and diffraction of light. These phenomena are materialised by a layer of mist animated by mobile and ephemeral spectral and mucilaginous forms in an unusual landscape. Indeed the installation transposes natural phenomena by reversing the reading direction. For example light does not come from above but from the ground and the cloud mass moves along a narrow line accentuating the perception of movement and speed. Thus the unfolding imaginary space is rather musical than choreographic. The mist then behaves like a sound material made of textures and rhythms. The substance whose materiality is uncertain changes texture and moves in response to the movements of the public around the installation. The sound material is structured around two main poles: an organic pole with a positive connotation and an industrial pole with a negative connotation. Humans interfere on the sound matter by polarising it in synchronisation with the behaviour of the fog thus transcribing different combinations of positive and negative human actions. SKY is then designed to offer a complex sensory experience ranging from pure aesthetic contemplation to empathic participatory understanding and questioning of the interactions between man and nature.
Jean Marc Chomaz, Laurent Karst, Filippo Fabbri, Greg Louis.

LABOFACTORY are an experimental collective. They have exhibited together since 2013 and have presented and performed worldwide. Their work has developed around numerous interdisciplinary collaborations, artistic projects and installations, integrating scientific research in fluid mechanics, spatial and sound.

Jean-Marc CHOMAZ is an artist physicist, director of research at the CNRS, professor at the École polytechnique, co-bearer of arts & sciences chair École polytechnique, École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs-PSL and the Carasso Foundation. He co-founded the Hydrodynamics laboratory of CNRS-École polytechnique which he chaired from 1990 to 2012, the laboratory of excellence Systems and Engineering of Paris Saclay University (LaSIPS), chaired from 2011 to 2019 and La Diagonale Paris Saclay in 2012. Alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure, he advises or has advised 31 PhD including 3 in art and co-authored more than 250 publications. He received the CNRS Silver Medal, 2007 and the Ampere Grand Prize of the Academy of Sciences, 2012, was appointed "Fellow" of the American Physical Society, 2001 and of the Euromech, 2018. His research concerns the dynamics of soap films, the theory of instability, the vortex breakdown, geophysical and stratified fluids, biomechanics and since 1992 arts & sciences.  

As an artist, he created the installations Un chemin qui chemine, Time traces, Terra Bulla, triptic Une solution au problème de raréfaction du Temps Futur presented in Bogota, 2019, Passé, Anamorphose ,in Bourges contemporain 2021, Thousand shades of Green for OU\/ERT in 2019, Incipit Temporis, Silmarils, Veridis Sol  and wrote the poem series N56u3N4A published in the review Plastir. In collaboration with the Duo HeHe, he created Fleur de Lys, Domestic Disaster # 3, Planet Laboratory, and Absynth at the Nemo festival, 2018, with Anaïs Tondeur the exhibition Lost in Fathoms, 2014, with Ana Rewakowicz and Camille Duprat Misty Way and the Nephelograp, mist impression, 2017, with the choreographer Aniara Rodado, the installations Basic Transmutation and streamlines, 2016, with Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand, Luminiferous drift, 2016 and ER=EPR at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2017, with Olga Flór, Conjonction and Alchimie de la couleur and with Anouk Daguin, Télescope d’intérieur. He founded with Laurent Karst and François-Eudes Chanfrault the collective Labofactory with the installations Infraespace, Fluxus, Wave, Exoplanet, 2080, Infinite, Redshift, Blackout, Soleil irrésolu presented in Amsterdam, Moscow, Paris, Boston, Berlin, Bogota, Atlanta.

Laurent KARST is an architect-designer, graduated from the Strasbourg School of Architecture and the Domus Academy of Milan in industrial design. Winner of the Villa Médicis prize in 1995 for a research on the use of industrial waste, he then worked in various international architecture agencies, notably with the Jean Nouvel agency. At the same time, he developed, in collaboration with Serge Eloire, architect, a series of sculptures immersed in the sea. Amphitrite I and a monumental project of cybernetic urban sculpture for the Compagnie Parisienne de Chauffage Urbain La Fontaine à vapeur du Gand Verre.  In 2006, he created Atelier 16 - architectures and develops small-scale architecture and design projects, with a particular attention for raw materials and their implementation, with a strong plastic and artistic imprint. Teaching at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Dijon in design and architecture, he created, in 2014, the Atelier de Recherche Art et Science around this rapprochement between the arts and sciences, which connects art and design students and researchers from the Faculty of Sciences in Dijon. Co-founder in 2005 of LABOFACTORY with the artist-physicist Jean-Marc Chomaz, he was from 2017 to 2019, in charge of developing teaching modules in Art and Science at the Ecole Polytechnique. At the same time, Laurent Karst has accompanied in design various start-ups supported by the X Novation center of the Ecole Polytechnique. In October 2021 he will defend a thesis at the Sorbonne for a research entitled "Art and Science Interfaces and Space Devices".

Filippo FABBRI is a Composer, orchestrator, researcher and conceives of the sound universe of films, theatre plays, contemporary art installations and events by focusing on the relationship between sound, space, body and mind. Born in 1980, he obtained a Bachelor of Computer Engineering in 2002 and a Masters in Systems Engineering in 2005 at La Sapienza University in Rome. He is particularly interested in micro-nanosystems and intelligent materials, obtaining in 2009 a doctorate in applied physics at the Laboratory of Condensed Matter Physics of the École Polytechnique and, subsequently, a doctorate in Systems Engineering at the 'La Sapienza University in Rome. At the same time, he completed his piano studies, he studied musical composition and orchestration at the H. Berlioz Conservatory in Paris, and advanced music writing and composition techniques at CRR93 d'Aubervilliers.  

Maître de Conférences at the University Paris-Saclay since 2010, he carries out his research in the fields of nanosciences and, more recently, in the fields of sound-art and immersive technologies. His interests include intelligent (nano) materials, synaesthetic interaction, adaptive acoustics, spatialization, object-based audio, sonification, augmented reality and art-science. He works particularly in the fields of contemporary art, with numerous exhibitions and workshops in France and abroad (Cité Internationale des Arts, Maisons des Métallos, Center G. Pompidou, Parc Floral, Stubbins Gallery (Atlanta, GA ), Ruskin School of Art (Oxford), etc.), theater, dance and film. As a pianist, multi-instrumentalist and sound artist, he has performed at various events on the national and international scene. He founded and directs the Professional License in “Sound and Image Techniques” at the IUT de Cachan and he created the new professional recording, filming and post-production studio “STAR” (Audiovisual Systems, Technologies and Networks) of the University of Paris-Saclay. An active member of the Labofactory collective, he has co-created new immersive musical art-science installations, such as "Exoplanets", ‘‘WaterDrums’’ and ‘‘Sky’’. As a pianist, saxophonist and sound artist, he has performed in various ensembles and events.

Gregory LOUIS is a singer- songwriter and musical performer. Graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique and the Ecole Normale Supérieure des Télécommunications, he finally turned to music at the end of his studies and embarked on a prolific and multifaceted career. He writes and produces film music, but also works on many projects in the record industry. For the past fifteen years, he has collaborated with renowned artists in the French electronic music scene, including Guy-Manuel de Homem, Christo (Daft Punk), Eric Chedeville (Crydamoure), Romain Tranchart (Modjo), Guillaume Atlan (The supermen Lovers), with whom he writes and produces works. At the same time, he created and produced within his music group "ESSS", which he founded, various electro-pop sounding music and video pieces. More recently, he has been collaborating with the Labofactory collective on the works "Sound Stream", "Unsolved Sun" and "Sky" presented in various events in Paris and Berlin and gathered in 2018 for the inaugural exhibition of the Chaire art et science "Nous ne sommes pas le nombre que nous croyons être" at the Cité des Arts de Paris. For "Sound Stream" he designed an analog interface between sound and optical waves and composed the sound score with the composer Augustin Viard. More recently, he co-composed the sound part of the installation/performance "Water Drums" in close connection with the sensory imprint and its symbolism of the sound and optical device. He regularly performs in duo with composer and researcher Filippo Fabbri, most recently in Atlanta in 2019.


Finnbogi Pétursson

Infra-Supra (2014-2023)

Infra - Supra has a long shallow pool of water on the ground with three equidistantly placed small speakers just above the water’s surface. The speakers repetitively deliver the equivalent of three hertz of sound onto the water below. These recurring sound waves generate expanding concentric circles in the pool. Via strategically placed lighting, the patterns on the water then project onto the wall in the form of shadows and create a fluid, animated dance, which is reflected again on the water, resulting in a quasi-infinite interfusion of below (infra) and above (supra). The central wave pattern is mirrored symmetrically on the wall, creating a billowing flame-like shape that swells and deflates. At times all three speakers pulse at once, causing three sets of intersecting patterns; at other times one or two speakers remain silent and the wall above them remains empty. To the visitor, the three-hertz sound waves register as a barely audible humming and are more felt as a pulse than heard. It’s this exact frequency that mimics the one of the brain in a restful state, and, together with the visuals, it provides the essentials for a meditative trance. (Scott Turri)

Infra - Supra

Finnbogi Pétursson (b. 1959) one of Iceland’s most prominent artists studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts and the Jan van Eyck Akademie in the Netherlands. His innovative and eccentric oeuvre hinges upon the conceptual treatment and fusion of sound space and material. Finnbogi’s work often uses implements that produce electronic or acoustic sounds to form sculptures themselves. Many of his installations bridge contemporary technology and elemental phenomena. His work also evokes experiences that cannot be attributed to visual or auditory perception but rather a combination perhaps transcendence of the senses. Exhibited around the world Finnbogi’s works are found in several international public and private collections. He represented Iceland at the Venice Biennale in 2001 with his monumental sound installation Diabolus. Collections include TBA21 Vienna Michael Krichman and Carmen Cuenca Collection USA Malmo KunstMuseum Sweden Nordiska Akvarell Museum Sweden Reykjavik Art Museum Iceland and the National Gallery of Iceland. In Iceland his permanent installations can be seen at Landsvirkjun Vatnsfellsvirkjun (an electric power plant) Reykjavik University and at the headquarters of Reykjavík Energy. Finnbogi is represented by BERG Contemporary Reykjavík and Persons Projects Berlin. Finnbogi lives and works in Reykjavik Iceland.