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L'Eau est dans l'air
Water is in the Air



Annick Bureaud, Leonardo/Olats Director

Annick Bureaud is an independent art critic, curator and event organiser, researcher and teacher in art and technosciences. She is the director of Leonardo/Olats (www.olats.org), European sister organisation to Leonardo/Isast (www.leonardo.info). She is a co-founding member of the Collectif Nunc (http://www.nunc.com).

Jean-Marc Chomaz, Chair of the Laboratoire d'Hydrodynamique (Ladhyx), Ecole Polytechnique

Article Jean-Marc ChomazArticle PDF

Jean-Marc Chomaz is Director of Research at the French National Center for Scientific Researches (C.N.R.S.), Professor at Ecole Polytechnique and Chair of the Laboratoire d'Hydrodynamique (LadHyX) at École Polytechnique in France. He was educated in Physics at École Normale Supérieure in Paris (BS 1981, MS 1982 and PhD 1985). After two postdoctoral years in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southern California, in 1987 he joined the French National Center for Meteorological Research in Toulouse where he initiated an experimental research program in fundamental geophysical fluid dynamics. In 1992 he became Associate Professor at École Polytechnique and, with Patrick Huerre, created the Laboratoire d'Hydrodynamique (LadHyX). His early experimental and numerical work was focused on nonlinear dynamics and the use of soap films to study two-dimensional flows. His focus on stability theory led, with his collaborators and students, to a fully nonlinear and fully nonparallel theory for the stability of real flows (Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 2005). Studying geophysical flows, he has discovered the zigzag instability that explains the forward energy cascade in stratified turbulence and revolutionizes the models used in dynamics of the atmopheres and aceans. His research makes use of theory, experiments and direct numerical simulations in order to reveal fundamental aspects of fluid dynamics. Jean-Marc Chomaz became a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2001, he was an associate editor of Physics of fluids and served on different APS committees. He is fellow of the Churchill college in Cambridge and associate editor of the Journal of Fluid Dynamics.

The "Pumping Art". The Science and art of sculpturing fluids: A discussion of ten realizations

The present talk reports on the interconnection of my scientific research and twenty years of collaborations with artists. The language, the theory, the mathematics, the graphics, films and images used in science are developing a fascinating aesthetics bound to the scientific demonstration and part to the establishment of a scientific fact. By themselves, in the context they are produced in the purpose they pursue, they are not art pieces. Reused by artists or simply watched as a plastic element they may be interrogated as art. But to me the art-science is a different venture on the sensitive and not only sensible side of science putting scientific intuition, feelings in the forefront in an augmented and shared mental construction. The sculptures and installations presented here exhibit an improbable equilibrium from which impalpable and ephemeral forms emerge. This put the surprised watcher in motion in a sensitive Universe SPANned by physics imagination without the long march of the scientific language! In each of those works, symmetries, broken symmetries, forces, conservation laws, balances, imbalances and instabilities are "mise en abyme" reinventing their symbolic significance in an expended reality made of intangible object. The challenge of all three realizations with the sculptor Manoli Maridakis has been to resize the "experiment" invented by the artist from millimetres, where capillarity dominates, to meters where inertia and therefore turbulence will bring complexity in. The work with the artist, Anne Jaffrennou, and the high school of "la vallée de Chevreuse à Gif-sur-Yvette" led to the realisation of a mini cloud in a tank. In the lamp "C_Clone", a mini-tornado is created and represents a "sensitive journey" for the designer Jerome Olivet "salon des créateurs 2001, Milano". It led us to help the performers of the "Ici" circus to generate a giant tornado which is presently part of their show and to create the "Tamed Tornado" science exhibit machine. With Laurent Karst, plastician, Francois Eudes Chanfrault, composer and us we have formed the collective "Labofactory" and produced in particular two large multimedia installations "Infraespace" where rings of vapour emerge, producing deaf sounds, from twelve black cubic drums (Nuit Blanche 2005, ArtRock 2006) and "Waves" mixing music and controlled waves on the surface of three pools of three meters projected on six giant screens by shadowgraph. (Researchers nigth 2008, Nuit Blanche 2005). The latest work with the group HeHe (a duo formed by Helen Evens and Heiko Hansen) includes "Fleur de lys" (2011) the explosion of a toy nuclear plan in a water tank and "Domestic Disaster 3: Planet Earth", a miniaturized polluted atmosphere placed on a world globe animated by a slow and steady rotation, accompanied by a sound choreography.

Nathalie Delprat, Researcher at LIMSI (Laboratoire d'Informatique pour la Mécanique et les sciences de l'ingénieur)

Article Nathalie DelpratArticle PDF

Nathalie Delprat is associate professor at Pierre and Marie Curie University (Paris) and researcher at LIMSI-CNRS (Orsay). Her research is centred on the analysis and modeling of signals in computer music and fluid mechanics. She is also interested in the relationship between arts, sciences and technologies, in particular with regard to the creative process. She currently co-heads the transverse thematics VIDA (Virtuality, Interaction, Design and Art) at LIMSI with Christian Jacquemin and is in charge of the Workshops on History and Philosophy of Sciences for the PhD students at UPMC. Her recent works explore the question of virtual materiality and the role of the imaginary aspects in the interaction with a virtual matter.

Walking clouds and Augmented Reverie

CLOUD is an interdisciplinary project devoted to the embodied exploration of an evanescent matter. The idea is to experience virtual modifications of the body density through a cloud-avatar designed with the help of a real-time motion capture device and a particle generator. Based on previous works on technological simulation and artistic materialization (PEPS-CNRS 2008), the project has begun in 2010 with the M1-prototype implementation and the organization of workshops, in collaboration with Claire Leroux (ARNUM-ESIEA). A prototype using a Kinect (K1-prototype) has been developed at LIMSI in 2011 and allows for the investigation of new cloud-types and the interaction of two users. In this talk, I will present two studies that focus on the creative dimension related to the imaginary aspects of the cloud-matter. In particular, I will show how the mutual influence of the cloud response and the user's action afford a great deal of freedom for expressive performances (Walking Clouds) and how this experience can induce a peculiar kind of dynamic reverie. A reverie that is virtually augmented and poetically enriched by the dialog with the cloud and that can be shared with another person (Almost Blue).

HeHe (Heiko Hansen, Helen Evans), Artists

Article HeHe (Heiko Hansen, Helen Evans)Article PDF

Founded in Paris by Helen Evans (GB 1972) and Heiko Hansen (DE 1970), both graduates of the Royal College of Art in computer related design (1999), HeHe is an artists duo whose works aims to rethink the existing technological systems that surround us, to give them a new social and critical usage.
With humour, HeHe reinvent our ongoing technological adventures; from the transformation of energy, emissions, intoxication, rail infrastructures to electronically mediated systems of control. In developing poetic interventions about the limits and meaning of our technologically conditioned world, their practice reconciles the individual with the reality of their immediate urban environment. Their concept of reverse cultural engineering and the idea of aesthetising emission clouds in real time provides a theoretical framework for their installations on transportation (Train Project) and pollution (Nuage Vert, Champs d'Ozone).
Working independently, HeHe bring theatre, engineering and design to their art practice and collaborate with individuals from a diverse range of disciplines and interests. Their work has been exhibited at Edith Russ Haus fur Medienkunst, Oldenburg (2011); National Art Museum Of China (2011); Ars Electronica, Linz (2011, 2008); Lyon Biennale (2009); Centre Georges Pompidou (2007, 2006, 2004); Cité International du Design, St Etienne (2010, 2006); Luxembourg European Capital of Culture (2007); Galerie Frédéric Desimpel, Bruxelles (2009, 2007); San José Museum of Art, USA (2008)

Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys is composed of a miniature model of nuclear power plant, which dominates a post-industrial landscape, all of which is immersed in a water-filled aquarium. At regular intervals a fluorescent fluid is released from the power plant cooling tower, an emission that resembles an atomic mushroom cloud, slowly rising to accumulate in a slow moving mass of green cloud. The ironic title reminds us of the purity of the lily flower, symbol of the French monarchy whose form is similar to the atomic mushroom, a veiled reference to the energy politics of France and the pro-nuclear rhetoric around "clean" energy.
The installation is part of the man-made cloud series, a research project about the aesthetics of our industrial emissions. Clouds retain a special place in contemporary culture. Once part of heaven, through the process of modernisation and industrial progress clouds have become profane, they are no longer seen as a source of metaphysical explication nor can they be understood as entirely natural and pure. Currently, a storm of cultural forms are attaching themselves to the metaphor of the natural cloud: artificial sky simulations, buildings in form of clouds, cloud cities, cloud furniture, cloud art, cloud installations and cloud computing.
In the light of this cloud kitsch, the cooling tower of a thermal power plant stands out as the strongest, largest cloud-making invention. It could be seen an emblem for all our cloud-making activities: our thermodynamic efforts and industrial progress. In consequence it has also been repeatedly used by activists to draw attention to environmental folly. But the raison d'être of this mighty architectural form is to achieve a high rate of thermodynamic efficiency: provides a heat difference, a heat sink. It has only one simple function: to cool down, and in doing so it releases water into the air.

Pascale Hurtado, Deputy to the Executive Director, IMéRA

Roger Malina, President Leonardo/Olats, member of the IMéRA Steering Committee

Roger F. Malina is an art-science researcher, astronomer and editor. He is a Distinguished Professor of Arts and Technology and Professor of Physics at the University of Texas, Dallas where he is developing an Art-Science R and D and Experimental Publishing program. He is a Directeur de Recherche of the CNRS and former Director of the Observatoire Astronomique de Marseille Provence at Aix-Marseille University. His scientific specialty is in space instrumentation and big data problems; he was the Principal Investigator for the NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite at the University of California, Berkeley. He also has been involved for 25 years with the Leonardo organization whose mission is to promote and make visible work that explores the interaction of the arts and sciences and the arts and new technologies. Since 1982 he has been the Executive Editor of the Leonardo Publications at MIT Press. More recently he has helped set up the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMERA) and is co chair of the ASIL (Arts, Sciences, Instrumentation and Language) Initiative of IMERA which hosts artists in residence in scientific research laboratories of the Marseille region.

STEM TO STEAM: Intimate Science and Water

I will present an argument that many of the important phenomena in the world that are crucial to sustainable societies are undetectable directly by our senses. As a result artists can play an important role in making us aware of these phenomena. The open data movement also offers new opportunities for projects which bridge the arts with citizen science. This is one mechanism for integrating the arts and humanities into STEM education (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). I will describe a number of artists residencies at IMERA and other programs which explore these ideas.

Monsieur Moo, Artist http://www.monsieurmoo.com

Article Monsieur MooArticle PDF

Monsieur Moo was born in 1981. He graduated from the Ecole Superieure d'Art d'Aix-en-Provence and is currently in post-graduate in Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts.
Between those two courses, Monsieur Moo worked for 5 years as curator particularly in Maribor as European Capital of Culture 2012, for the association Otto-Prod and Hlanilnica Gallery. This activity feeds his personal practice consisting in multiplying interferences with immutable systems . Whether in collaboration, through adaptation or even feedback, the method remains the same: Monsieur Moo causes collisions between his world and the one he connects with. Codes - be they social, urban, cinematographical and even scientists - are telescoped. These collisions result of "nonsense" poetry, as opposed to any moral or didactic intention, his work is an excuse to question people regarding its lucid accession to a convention.


Paparuda is the title of a performance consisting in initiating an artificially rain at the border between the U.S.A. and Canada. The purpose of this performance is to echo a geopolitical accident that occurred in 1949 between the two North American countries. The U.S.A. had then seeded clouds moving to Canada. History had already raised the issue of ownership of cloud and water it contained. One result of this event, Canada had complained of having been expropriated from the rain by his American neighbors, it ratified the UN mandate under the Treaty RQcP-43.r1. This decree legislating the provocations of artificial rain in North America has since its inception 52 years ago never been sollicited. Three years have been necessary for the artist Monsieur Moo to achieve this performance that attempts to create a set of scale in the disproportion between the means relevant to a project and the familiarity of its subject: rain.

Ana Rewakowicz, Artist

Article Ana RewakowiczArticle PDF

Ana Rewakowicz is an interdisciplinary artist born in Poland, living and working in Montréal, Canada. She works with inflatables and explores relations between temporal, portable architecture, the body and the environment. In contrast to the stable mass of monumental sculpture and architecture, her costumes and structures are air-filled, mobile, and concerned with the places and people that activate them. Incorporating new materials and technology, she builds devices that create intimate, yet paradoxically public experiences. Her art crosses into many disciplines including invention, design, architecture and performance has been shown nationally and internationally.

The anti-entropic role of art

In my presentation I will explore the anti-entropic role of art in the service of designing the world. The vehicle for this journey will be art and the steering wheel the concept of design-science developed by Buckminster Fuller. In it design is not a fragmented notion applied to specialized professions, but a creative process that lies at the heart of any human activity. According to architect Michael Ben Eli, design suffers when its intentions are narrow, when, as in our current bio-political system of capitalist democracy, we separate (banish) ourselves from the larger orders of life and environment. Over centuries the tendency of narrowing focus has created specialized fields of production and has "ensured that we could not simultaneously concentrate on both, the big and the small, the real and the symbolic, the human and non-human, the scientific and the 'vécu'." Through various examples I will demonstrate the collaborative spirit of art and science and use my recently produced piece entitled "The Cloud" as an example and a metaphor of the interconnectedness between nature, humans and the environment, where water is literally in the air.

Peter Richards, Artist

Article Peter RichardsArticle PDF

Peter Richards has permanent outdoor installations at Artpark in Lewiston, New York, and several sites in California and Washington. He recently completed a major work for the Valley Metro Light Rail System in Phoenix, Arizona and two in the state of Washington in collaboration with Sue Richards. He is best known for Wave Organ, a wave activated sound sculpture located on the northern waterfront of San Francisco. He has taught at the Center for Experimental and Interdisciplinary Arts at San Francisco State University, Ecole d'Art Aix en Provence, at the San Francisco Art Institute and Stanford University. He is a co-founder of McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was a Research Fellow at the Studio for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University. He was founder of Exploratorium's Artist in Residence Program in San Francisco and is currently serving as Senior Artist Emeritus. He is a Research Fellow at the Mediterranean Center for Advanced Research in Marseille.

Peter Richards will present past works that address the physicality of water, its psychological power, its use as a medium of expression and its connection with historical events.

Jacques Sapiéga, Director, SATIS

Jacques Sapiéga WIDTH=Article PDF

River Durance interlaced waters, art-science collaborations and audiovisual research

In 2003-2004, the Science, Arts and Technics in Image and Sound Department of Aix Marseille University has produced a DVD on the "Durance system". Nine documentary shorts movies and different bonus constitute a turning point concerning trans-disciplinary crossings and audiovisual research.

Synergetica (Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand), Artists

Article Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry GelfandArticle PDF

Dmitry Gelfand (b.1974, St. Petersburg, Russia) and Evelina Domnitch (b. 1972, Minsk, Belarus) create sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices. Current findings, particularly in the domain of mesoscopics, are employed by the artists to investigate questions of perception and perpetuity. Having dismissed the use of recording media, their works exist as ever-transforming phenomena offered for observation. In order to engage such ephemeral processes, the duo has collaborated with numerous scientific research facilities, including the Drittes Physikalisches Institut (Goettingen University, Germany), the Institute of Advanced Sciences and Technologies (Japan), Ricso Lab (Russia) and the Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam). They are recipients of the Japan Media Arts Excellence Prize (2007), and three Ars Electronica Honorary Mentions (2007, 2009, 2011).

Memory Vapor

Though initially intended for studying cloud nucleation, the cloud chamber accidentally lead to the pivotal discovery of cosmic rays: a continuous cascade of subatomic particles, arriving to Earth from outer space. In Domnitch and Gelfand's latest artwork, 'Memory Vapor', the ephemeral condensation trails seeded by these particles are scanned and illuminated by a white laser sheet, transforming the cloud medium into a dynamic prism that vastly extends the spatio-temporal resolution of particle trajectories. The duo will also discuss some of their other gaseous and aquatic art-science endeavors, such as Hydrogeny and Camera Lucida: Sonochemical Observatory, which unveil water as a powerful source of energy.

Javiera Tejerina-Risso, Artist and
Patrice Le Gal, DR CNRS in Hydrodynamics, IRPHE, Aix-Marseille Université

Article Javiera Tejerina-Risso & Patrice Le GalArticle PDF

Javiera Tejerina-Risso
My artistic practice came first as an autobiographical interrogation about my own voluntary exile. But nowadays, my artistic research tries to find a certain ratio of universality by exploring the idea of movement, of flux.
The migration experience draws a marked boundary, between past and present, here and elsewhere. My work attempts to unfold that boundary, to make it even more visible in order to get rid of it afterwards. It tries to tame the incessant flows that rule our lives: migration, urban streams, information flow, blood flow and by extension all that circulates or changes as fluids (gases and liquids), rivers and oceans.
My video installations represent both the unit, the individual but also the movement, the network, the relationship with the other, interdependence. There is a two-fold reading: one as a whole and one as a singular element. Oceans, sea-waters, waves ... hydrodynamic waves are elements that are found regularly in my artwork.
Therefore working with scientific research came naturally.

Patrice Le Gal
First interested in pattern formation through his experimental work on Rayleigh-Bénard convection during his PhD, I was then especially interested in the formation and the interaction of Von Karman wakes and also in the instabilities of the Ekman boundary layer over rotating disks. I have published more than 70 research articles in fluid mechanics: on convective patterns, wakes, turbulence, rotating boundary layer instabilities and more recently on the elliptic instability. I am currently involved in experiments on stratified and rotating flows: strato-rotational instability, internal wave generation, wave breaking, vortex formation. All of these flows have applications in geo and astrophysics


WAVES is a project to install videos, images and multimedia performances based on the visualization of water surface waves. We work at IRPHE (Institut de Recherche sur les Phénomènes hors Equilibre) for designing experiments to produce hydrodynamic waves. We aim to study the behavior of different types of waves and their evolution: generation, breaking, focussing. We also want to find possible comparisons with other types of waves like sound or optical waves and try to understand how our brain processes and interprets waveforms.

Harold Vasselin, Artist http://haroldvasselin.fr/

Article Harold VasselinArticle PDF

Harold Vasselin is movie maker, and conducted various works about science telling and symbolic negotiations in relation with technologies. Most of those works are presented on his site http://haroldvasselin.fr/ (but in French only). He was resident at IMéRA during winter 2009/2010 and created Dans la communauté végétale, a mixed media installation, with Groupe Dunes. He is currently working on a feature film about the German atomic bomb (historic), and a documentary film about wheat design, biotechnology and "postmodern bakery" (paysan-boulanger in french). He is teaching at Paris 7 University, master "scientific journalism".

Clouds are not good to me

Since I left CNRS, I kept trying to make a piece about clouds. I tried for years, in different ways, but the fact is I met here the worst artistic drawbacks of my career… Maybe it was too near to my scientific knowledge and practice (I was previously researcher in solar energy), or what ? None of them never found their financing, neither came to realization (except two minor projects). I will be very pleased to stalk with you on these lost trails toward the clouds. Maybe, if we don't get lost together, we will be able to see new shapes in those clouds. The titles of these projects are (in chronological order) :
- Les chemins de nuages (cloud streets) - film project
- L'accordeur de nuage (profession : atmosphere tuner) - film project
- La forme des nuages, d'après Goethe (On Goethe's cloud shapes) - art workshop, Montreal University (UQAM), hold in 2004 and 2005.
- Ciel nuageux avec éclaircies - Notes sur la perception et la représentation des nuages (about perception and figuration of clouds) - published text in the Eugene Boudin exhibition catalogue, Musée Malraux, édition Somogy 2009.
- Journal de bord des nuages (a cloud diary) - film project
- Grande eau - performance and photographic work (submitted to Marseille 2013)
I will go through a quick overview of these attempts, their thematic and formal suite, and the pathetic story of their wreckage (let's shiver!)

Victoria Vesna, Artist

Article Victoria VesnaArticle PDF

Victoria Vesna, Ph.D., is an artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI). Her work can be defined as experimental creative research that resides between disciplines and technologies and with her installations she explores how communication technologies affect collective behavior and how perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation. She is particularly interested in creating context for expanding consciousness of the human experience by making visible the invisible and audible the inaudible. Victoria has long term close collaborations with bio, nano and neuro scientists and has exhibited work in 20 + solo exhibitions and 70 + group shows. She is the North American editor of AI & Society and in 2007 published an edited volume - Database Aesthetics: Art in the age of Information Overflow, Minnesota Press and in 2010 an edited volume with Christiane Paul and Margot Lovejoy entitled Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts. Water has been a parallel long term interest to all her work and recently she curated the "4th State of Water: Micro to Macro" exhibition at the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) in Torun, Poland.

Brain Storming the 4th State of Water Bodies and Minds

Working with nano-scientists, I came to a realization that although ubiquitous and the source of life, water is one of the least understood molecules, as Philp Ball so beautifully explains in his essay "Water is Weird". Exploring further the way the water molecule functions became not only the mirror for reflection but also the seed of an inspiration which led to discovery of the idea of the fourth state of water which is the research focus of Dr. Gerald Pollack. We are all familiar with the liquid, ice and vapor states and there is general knowledge of our bodies and the planet being composed mostly of water in these states. When considering the brain and the body as being mostly water, we imagine this as liquid but in fact our cells and nervous system are held together by this other -- in between -- state that is also used as a medium by nanoscientists when exploring the molecular surface. Awareness of this state of water has potential to change the way we think about this molecule of life and this inspired me to organize an exhibition and symposium with this idea as the overarching metaphor. In this presentation I will discuss the conceptual framework of this show as well as the works presented that include artists and scientists from around the globe with the epicenter in Japan.

Emmanuel Villermaux, Professor at Aix-Marseille University and Institut Universitaire de France

Professor at Aix Marseille University. Spent six years at CNRS in Grenoble after his PhD in Physics from the University of Paris VI on Fluid Mechanics. Bronze Medal from CNRS, Fellow of the American Physical Society, senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France.

Water in the Air: Sprays, Aerosols and Raindrops

Fragmentation phenomena will be reviewed with a particular emphasis on processes occurring with liquids, those giving rise to drops --in the broad sense, the process of atomization--. Various observations converge to propose a unifying scenario describing the overall transition between a compact macroscopic liquid volume and its subsequent dispersion into stable drops. In liquids, primary instabilities always give birth to more or less corrugated ligaments whose breakup induce the shape of the drop size distribution in the resulting spray. Examples include the fragmentation of jets and liquid sheets, the formation of spume by the wind blowing over a liquid surface like oceans, bubbles and bursting phenomena, impacts and raindrops.


This project has received support from Studiolab. Studiolab is funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Program.
the European Commission 7th Framework Program          European Commission

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