Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

Curated by by David Familian

February 9 – May 25, 2019
See below for holiday closures
Beall Center for Art + Technology

Opening Reception: Saturday, February 9, 2– 5 p.m.

The Beall Center for Art + Technology is proud to present a retrospective of work by intermedia collaborators Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau. The first of its kind in the United States, this exhibition will feature a selection of works from 1992-2018; a curated survey that highlights their joint practice of nearly thirty years.
With a shared interest in artificial life and intelligence, Sommerer and Mignonneau draw upon their disparate backgrounds to produce deeply engaging and sensory experiences. By wedding Sommerer’s background in botany, anthropology, and sculpture with Mignonneau’s studies in video and modern art, the duo design interfaces that generate open-ended, embodied encounters with living systems and science. For example, in "Interactive Plant Growing" (1992), the artists employ Erkki Huhtamo’s notion of a “tactile gaze” to achieve both visual and physical interactivity with the viewer: a human hand needs to touch the real, living plants in order to trigger a projection of digital flora counterparts in the installation. Similarly, in "Fly Simulator" (2018) and "Neuro Mirror" (2018), the resulting artwork is unique visual feedback that is reliant on user input and activation (i.e. wearing and manipulating a VR headset, or gesturing in front of a video camera), as well as conceptual aspects of human sentience like memory, emotive perception, and creative visualization. Despite the number of years elapsed between the creation of these works, each piece demonstrates the essential quality of engagement that connects the artists’ work to the physical world.
As their research and art often posits, technology increasingly plays a fascinating and complicated role in the archaeology, imitation, and manipulation of nature – despite the generative qualities they both share. 
Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau completed their PhD degrees from CAiiA-STAR, University of Wales College of Art, Newport (UK) and Kobe University (Japan), respectively. Sommerer and Mignonneau’s works have been featured in more than 300 exhibitions, and are included in media museums and collections around the world. They are the recipients of several media arts awards, including the "Golden Nica" Prix Ars Electronica Award for Interactive Art in 1994 (Linz, Austria), the "Ovation Award" of the Interactive Media Festival 1995 (Los Angeles, USA),  the "Multi Media Award '95" of the Multimedia Association Japan, and the 2001 “World Technology Award” in London. They have published numerous research papers on artificial life, interactivity and interface design, and have lectured extensively at international universities and events. They are Professors at the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria, where they also head the Department for Interface Culture at the Institute for Media.
There will be a related event to this exhibition, FREE with registration:
"LASER Talk: ARTificial Life + Intelligence" - February 7, 2019, 5:30-7:30pm, UCI Applied Innovations

This exhibition is possible due to the generosity of the Beall Family Foundation. For more information about public events related to this exhibition, please visit the "Events" page of our website.




712 Arts Plaza | Irvine, CA 92697 |
Gallery Hours | Monday - Saturday | 12–6 p.m.

Free admission and docent-led tours, open to the public.

Holiday Closures:

  • February 18, 2019
  • March 23-31, 2019

The Beall Center received its initial support from the Rockwell Corporation in honor of retired chairman Don Beall and his wife, Joan, the core idea being to merge their lifelong passions – technology, business and the arts – in one place. Today major support is generously provided by the Beall Family Foundation.