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Published on Mar 12, 2016
Recontextualising Les Immatériaux
In 1985, Jean-François Lyotard curated with the design theorist Thierry Chaput the exhibition Les Immatériaux at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The exhibition, or more precisely a “manifestation” according to Lyotard, displayed industrial objects, scientific objects and art works within a scenography from the architect Philippe Delis inspired by Denis Diderot’s Grand Salon. Les Immatériaux exhibits what Lyotard calls the postmodern from the perspective of its material condition in related to language, sensibility, time and resistance. The new materiality, which he deliberately calls immaterial in order to break from the modern conception of it, was the point of departure to conceptualize the exhibition, its aesthetics and its medium/message. It is not only an exhibition that reflects on the immaterial materiality, but that also helps to understand what an exhibition can be under this condition. This talk aims to situate Les Immatériaux within a genealogy of “exhibition as medium” –which involves a redefinition of medium in contrast to the modernist approach of Greenberg – by contextualizing it firstly among the writings of J.F. Lyotard between 1983 (Le différend) and 1988 (L’inhumain), and secondly in relation to the initiative of Pontus Hulten (1973) on the informatisation of museums against the backdrop of cybernetisation.
Yuk Hui is currently postdoctoral researcher at the Leuphana University in Germany, he is author of On the Existence of Digital Objects (Minnesota University Press, 2016) and co-editor of the anthology 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory (Meson Press, 2015).
A conference given in the framework of Theater, Garden, Bestiary: A Materialist History of Exhibitions, a HES-SO/University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland & ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne research project.