LAZNIA 1 2008 - IMMEDIATE ART - Maurice Benayoun
10.10.2008, at 6 p.m.
Maurice Benayoun (AKA MoBen) is a pioneering new-media artist whose work has been seen, and honored, around the globe. Born in Mascara, Algeria, in 1957, Benayoun is based in Paris, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His work employs various media — including (and often combining) video, virtual reality, the Web, wireless technology, performance, public-space large-scale art installations and interactive exhibitions.
During the 1980s, Benayoun directed video installations and short films about contemporary artists, including Daniel Buren, Jean Tinguely, Sol LeWitt and Martial Raysse. That work introduced the concept of Situation developed later by Benayoun in other media as a means to expand understanding of symbolic contexts through immersion in multimedia environments.
In order to explore the potential of emerging artistic tools, Benayoun co-founded Z-A in 1987, a cutting-edge computer graphics and Virtual Reality lab that became the site of many award-winning projects. For over 15 years Z-A was dedicated to exploring new territories in computer animation, interactivity and real-time graphics.
Between 1990 and 1993, Benayoun collaborated with Belgian graphic novelist François Schuiten on Quarxs , the first High Definition TV 3D computer graphics series to be given awards globally. This series played with 3D realism as an unexpected way to question scientific truth and distortion.
In 1993, he received the Villa Medicis Hors Les Murs for his Art After Museum project, a contemporary art collection of virtual reality. The project's premise is to invite contemporary artists to produce new works in situ in the virtual, i.e. with the specific constraints of the virtual space. From 1994 on, Benayoun created virtual-reality and interactive-art installations, starting with Big Questions : Is God Flat? , Is the Devil Curved? , And what about me? , using dynamic virtual space to propose a new kind of situation qualified by Jean-Paul Fargier in Le Monde (1994) as "the first Metaphysical Video Game".
After 1993, he starts creating Virtual Reality and interactive art installations. Among them, in 1995, the Tunnel under the Atlantic, televirtual project linking the Pompidou centre, in Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Montreal. By digging inside collective memory to effect a meeting of the two venues, this large-scale installation remains one of the first symbolic rendez-vous in virtual space.
In 1998, Benayoun won the Golden Nica at Ars Electronica, in the Interactive Art category, for World Skin, a Photo Safari in the Land of War . World Skin and The Tunnel are considered by critics to be key works in the field of interactive art — authentic artistic appropriations of technology introducing the concept of symbolic situation .
The more recent works develop the idea of “critical fusion”, mixing symbolic fiction and reality in order to make visible the limits of the real world.
The project supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the Cultural Education and the dissemination of culture.
Municipal Institution of Culture