Philippe Parreno
Mar 5 - Apr 16, 2016
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About the Installation

Gladstone 64 is pleased to present IF THIS THEN ELSE, an exhibition by Philippe Parreno taking place across the 21st Street and 64th Street galleries. This show marks Parreno’s first exhibition with Gladstone.
IF THIS THEN ELSE is a two-location exhibitiony; two spaces connected throughout the city, a two-headed beast. Installed on the first floor of Gladstone 64, a bioreactor houses microorganisms and serves as a living command center for the exhibition at both locations.

IF THIS THEN ELSE is a time based-exhibition and a conditional construct. Scripted events are automated by command lines executed within a computer: if a light goes off, then a film is screened and the temperature in the room changes; if the film finishes screening, then the lights are turned on…

Activities within the bioreactor control the overall scenario of the exhibition, although the computer writes and repeats the scripts with some variation. Inside the bioreactor, the microorganisms anticipate the rhythms, “predictable” qualities, and dramaturgy of the exhibition environment. In return, the organisms can alter the conditions within the bioreactor and in the exhibition space outside of its habitat, revealing a basic relationship between time and living matter. When the microorganisms inside the bioreactor detect time-related variations, they can mutate or evolve in anticipation of future variations. Alternatively, they can remain passive and follow the transformations by adjusting their inner molecular clocks.

Gladstone 64 is a domestic setting with shifting climate, light and sound. Filled with helium, new species of fish in My Room Is Another Fish Bowl (2016) hover mid-air in the changing atmosphere on the parlor floor. Happy Ending (2015), transparent blown-glass lamp sculptures, illuminate their own ghostly presence intermittently.

The intelligence activity within the bioreactor uptown communicates with the gallery downtown at 21st Street and transforms sequences of projection, sound, air, and light. Parreno’s new film, Li-Yan (2016), filmed on location in New York City, premieres in the main gallery along with an immersive sound installation. Upstairs, Mont Analogue (2001), translates the novel of the same name by René Daumal into a series of colorimetric changes.

Philippe Parreno lives and works in Paris. H{N)Y P N(Y}OSIS, his first large-scale solo exhibition in the United States, took place last summer at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. Another chapter of this exhibition opened in Milan last October under the name HYPOTHESIS. In October of 2016, Parreno’s work will be presented as this year’s Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London.
The bioreactor was conceived and engineered by Jean-Baptiste Boulé (CNRS - French National Museum of Natural History, Sorbonne University) and Nicolas Desprat (Statistical Physics Laboratory, École Normale Supérieure, PSL Research University; Paris Diderot Sorbonne Paris-Cité).

Sound design by Nicolas Becker with Cengiz Hartlap.