Maurice Benayoun in 2000
29 March 1957
|Known for||New Media Art|
Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995)
World Skin, a Photo Safari in the Land of War (1997)
Ars Electronica 1998,
Chevalier des Arts et Lettres 2000,
Villa Medicis hors les murs, 1993,
International Monitor Awards...
Maurice Benayoun (aka MoBen or 莫奔) (born 29 March 1957 in Mascara, Algeria) is a French pioneer, contemporary new-media artist, curator and theorist based in Paris and Hong Kong. His work employs various media, including (and often combining) video, immersive virtual reality, the Web, performance, EEG, 3D Printing, large-scale urban media art installations and interactive exhibitions. Often conceptual, Maurice Benayoun's work constitutes a critical investigation of the mutations in the contemporary society induced by the emerging or recently adopted technologies.
Born in Mascara, Algeria in March 1957, from a father killed before his birth in the Algerian independence war, his family moved to France in 1958 to live in Paris suburbs during most of his childhood. To finance his studies he became a secondary school teacher (1978) in fine arts and literature. Graduating in Fine Arts (Pantheon-Sorbonne University) in the early 1980s, Benayoun directed video installations and short videos about contemporary artists, including Daniel Buren, Jean Tinguely, Sol LeWitt and Martial Raysse. In 1987 he co-founded Z-A, a computer graphics and Virtual Reality private lab. Between 1990 and 1993, Benayoun collaborated with Belgian graphic novelist François Schuiten on Quarxs, the first animation series made of HD computer graphics, exploring variant creatures with alternate physical laws. In 1993, he received the Villa Medicis Hors Les Murs for his Art After Museum project, a virtual reality contemporary art collection.
After 1994 Benayoun was involved with more virtual-reality and interactive-art installations. One of these was described by Jean-Paul Fargier in Le Monde (1994) as "the first Metaphysical Video Game". One important work from this period includes The Tunnel under the Atlantic, finished in 1995. This was a tele-virtual project linking the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal. More than a technical performance, as the first intercontinental virtual reality artwork (called "televirtuality", Philippe Quéau, 1994), this installation was one-of-a-kind example of what Maurice Benayoun calls architecture of communication, as another way to explore limits of communication, after Hole in Space by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinovitz. The Tunnel under the Atlantic introduces the concept of dynamic semantic shared space.
In 1997 he creates with Jean-Baptiste Barrière World Skin, a Photo Safari in the Land of War, an immersive installation, often mentioned as a reference in virtual art, which was awarded with the Golden Nica, Ars Electronica 1998.
The Navigation Room (1997) and The Membrane (2001) were created for the Cité des Sciences de la Villette. The Navigation Room presented, through an innovative interface, highly personalized visits and content, ending with a web page dedicated to each visitor. The Membrane (2001) — the core of the exhibition Man Transformed — was a large surface breathing and feeling the presence of the visitors. The Panoramic Tables for the Planet of Visions pavilion for Hanover EXPO2000, directed by François Schuiten, was an innovative application of augmented reality. In 2006, together with the architect Christophe Girault, they created the new permanent exhibition inside the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, that opened in February 2007.
Benayoun conceived and directed the exhibition Cosmopolis, Overwriting the City (2005), a giant art and science immersive installation presented for French Year in China in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and CongQing. In 2008, NeORIZON, a large scale urban installation in Shanghai, converted people into flash codes then becoming the city itself. Initiated in 2005, the series of works, Mechanics of Emotions presents Internet as the world nerve system and world emotions as a possible material for the new metaphoric model of economy.
In 2008 Maurice Benayoun submitted his blog, The Dump, a dump of undone art projects, as a doctorate thesis entitled: Artistic Intentions at Work, Hypothesis for Committing Art at Université Paris 1, la Sorbonne. The PhD received the "mention très honorable avec felicitations du jury" (First-Class Honors with Distinction).
To extend his vision of Urban Media Art, Maurice Benayoun launched in 2014, as a curator, Open Sky Project, allowing artists (Open Sky Gallery), and students (Open Sky Campus) to conceive and present works for one of largest screen in the world, the ICC media façade (70 000m2). This program offered more than 100 artists and students, the opportunity to exhibit their work in the public space. The ICC media façade represent about half the surface of the Hong Kong Skyline video displays.
From 1984 to 2010 he was an assistant professor at Paris 1 University, Pantheon-Sorbonne, where he was co-founder and art director of the CITU research center (Création Interactive Transdisciplinaire Universitaire) together with Paris 8 University. CiTu was dedicated to research and creation (R&C) in the emerging forms of art. In 2010 he became an associate professor at Paris 8 University, where he founded (2011) and heads H2H Lab (the Human to Human Lab), a cluster of public and private labs envisioning art as an advanced form of human mediations. The same year he co-founds Arts-H2H Labex (Lab of Excellence) a research lab lead by Paris 8 University. In August 2012, he becomes full Professor in the School of Creative Media of City University of Hong Kong.
Maurice Benayoun calls Fusion the mix of Fiction and Reality. It leads to what Guy Debord calls the Society of the Spectacle. Metaphorically, the name is inspired by a compound of Critical Mass and Nuclear Fusion, 'Critical Fusion' is the practice of Fusion when the introduction of Fiction is a way to make visible the invisible instead of hiding the reality: "the fusion of fiction and reality to decipher the world".
Maurice Benayoun first introduced the concept of Critical Fusion to define his action in the virtual or physical public space. Watch Out! in the streets of Seoul (2002), helps people understand that they are at the same time Big Brother and his victims. Other works like NeORIZON in Shanghai and All the series Mechanics of Emotions, even online are considered based on the same principle: Using facts, data, to present the emotional state of the World in the future (Emotions Forecast, 2011).
Maurice Benayoun talks about Urban Cosmetics when the work of the artist attempts to beautify the City through entertainment and decoration. Urban Cosmetics is the opposite of Critical Fusion.
The concept of Urban Cosmetics was first introduced during the ISEA Conference in Sydney, 2013. The conference was hold during the Vivid Sydney festival. This concept became instrumental in the explicitation of the legitimacy of the artist's intervention in the public space, to describe what should be avoided, or simply not considered as consistent artistic practice.
After Marshall McLuhan's Global Village, the status of human interactions has been altered by the development of information networks. Maurice Benayoun presents the Internet as the World Nervous System. Any of the connected people becomes like nerve endings, capturing, transmitting and sharing informations. The interconnected world becomes equivalent to a Global Body. Anything affecting a part of the body is immediately felt by the entire body.
The concept is frequently used by Benayoun since 2008.
A model from physics to understand the process of subjective data mining and urban navigation. This model allowed Maurice Benayoun to create KITSUN, a subjectivity based compass for urban survival. He wrote two papers together with his homonym Maurice Benayoun, an eminent nuclear Physics scientist. Benayoun coined the name Web Cubed or Web3 (Urban Web Cube project, 2010) to express the next level in the evolution of technologies, from Web 2.0, Web 3.0 (localized), the Web3 integrated the subjectivity in the dimensions of the mobile networks.
Neuro-design is a method of design based on BCI, Brain Computer Interaction. The Neuro-design is not the projection of mental images from the brain to machines but the assessment of dynamic forms through the observation of the designer's positive or negative emotions during the biofeedback process. Neuro-design is a form of physically-passive interaction based on a feedback loop between the computer generated shape, considered as an artificial life form, and the brain considered as the ecosystem where the form should evolve to survive. The transmission of the resulting shape from one user another is a form of inheritance, and the dominant shape descriptors are inherited by the following designer creating a chain of iterations supposed to convert gradually an individual design into a collective process based on participative assessment of the resulting shape.
The concept has been developed while working on the Brain Factory project (Hong Kong, 2014), an extension of the Big Reificator Project (Paris, 2011).
Maurice Benayoun identified two main trends determining the evolution of the human experience confronted to materiality. Borrowing the term from chemistry, Sublimation is the operation converting the world into data that can be treated at the same time by natural or artificial intelligence. This allows the cognitive integration of the physical as well as its absolute control. Coming from Karl Marx, Reification is the conversion of thoughts into objects. The process requires EEG (Electro Encephalography) and BCI (Brain Computer Interaction) in association with construction technologies like 3D Printing.
These concepts contributed to the theoretical foundations of the series of works the Big Reificator that became later the Brain Factory developed in collaboration with Tobias Klein.
In 2011, a research project initiated by Maurice Benayoun, Egonomy developed the technology behind the Maieutic Engine, an intuitive search engine based on behaviour analysis and non-declarative queries. The Maieutic Engine is inspired by Socrates' Gnothi Seauton (in Greek, 'know thyself'). The user is invited to explore a huge database of images and the engine gradually refines the recommendation. The Maieutic Engine is based on a n-dimensional vectorial database. The user follows ones inclination like the water following the line of greater slope. Applications include the image database of the French Réunion des Musées Nationaux with more than 800,000 pictures from the French National museums.
The origin of Egonomy comes back to 1995, when Maurice Benayoun was conceiving the Tunnel under the Atlantic. Virtually digging into a database of images, the visitors improved gradually the quality of their finds. Back then, this first engine was called Gadevu, from the Quebec expression arrangé par le gars des vues meaning: 'made to succeed like in a movie'. This intuitive recommendation engine based on serendipity, became later Egonomy. The research program included many partners like the Pompidou Centre, Paris 8 and Lyon 2 universities and the CEA (French National Atomic Research Center).
Transactional aesthetics is an art practice based on using the exchange, the transaction of information material, process, data, artworks, as a medium. 
Maurice Benayoun developed the concept around the IN OUT project (2008), a participative experiment based on "connective creation" or "Peer to Peer" creation. With the development of the online, on site project, it became soon The Art Collider, "a network of artworks" involving SFAI, San Francisco Art Institute, UC Berkeley, Cornell University and many other international partners, making artworks that feed each other, questioning the concept of intellectual property and ex nihilo creation.
Other project like the Dump, and the Opendump, online platforms to share undone art projects, even inviting artist to realise the already published project are typically transactional Aesthetics. Later, VoV, The Values of Values (2018) Blockchain based Crypto Currency art project is probably the most explicit transactional art project.
From the year 2000, considered his works as a form of Open Media Art, paraphrasing Jon Ippolito, not limited to the traditional forms, media and economic schemes of art, but necessarily based on a specific medium, digital or using technologies. Open takes ici the sense of freedom in the means of expression.
(Infra-realisme in French, could be interpreted as 'sub-realism') has been coined in the early 90s to describe the specificity of the new form of realism emerging from 3D computer graphics.
During the production of Quarxs (1989–1993), the author, new media artist and theorist Maurice Benayoun intended to make the difference between visual realism based on the transcription of how the world reflects light, and what he called Infra-realism, or "realism of the depth" or "the deep realism behind the surface" where, beyond the perceptive appearance, shapes stem from the application of principles coming from physics, optics, chemistry or biology. We could call this procedural, parametric, generative, or biomimetic simulation. To illustrate the concept, Maurice Benayoun used during his talks and lectures, to differentiate visually represented water - as light effects that can be translated into shades or colors - and the same effects generated thanks to fluid simulation and light propagation algorithms. 3D graphics allow to "simulate" clouds, water, smoke but also behavior like flocks of birds or fishes... Even light reflection becomes an application of physical phenomenons. more than the automatization of visual analogy as practiced by painters and photographers, 3D computer graphics realism becomes an activation of the sub-layer of reality.
Based on real time graphics, virtual reality and augmented reality make an extensive use of infra-realism. The VR artworks created after 1993 by Maurice Benayoun like "Is the Devil Curved" or the "Tunnel under the Atlantic" often refer to the concept of infra-realism even regarding the use of artificial intelligence.
In a seminal text, Art After Museum (1993), Benayoun coins SAS as any kind of interface that allows to go from the physical space to the virtual Reality space. Explaining the technology may evolve, but the necessity to have a transition from the "real" to the spacce of fiction that we call "Virtual Reality". SAS is a French word coming from the Latin, that designs the apparatus that allows us to go from a human-compatible space to a more "hostile" environment. The airlock system in a submarine, or the double door system in a bank are a "sas". So are the CAVE VR system or the VR Head Mounted Display. The SAS Cube created in 2000-2001, was the first PC based cube of Virtual Reality.
In 2003, Benayoun presents in Marseilles, France, a performance/conference anticipating the future of the Internet of Objects, IoT. He describes the behaviour of objects in our environment that have a strong social impact and alter deeply our daily life. He suggests to avoid an excessive submissive behaviour that would amplify our natural inclinations and limit the potential of the unexpected. In an ironic fictional research project, He proposes the creation of an "Integrated Psychic Disorder Generator". The Behavioural Design is the design of connected and AI driven objects based on social concerns and artificial life models.
In reaction to the excessive use of acronyms such as B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) that reduces human interactions to mere commercial transactions, Benayoun proposes to consider mediated interactions as H2H: Human to Human generalising the use of the acronym to all human mediations. He contributed to the definition of the Lab of excellence of Paris 8 university naming it "ARTS H2H".
None of the audio/visual content is hosted on this site. All media is embedded from other sites such as GoogleVideo, Wikipedia, YouTube etc. Therefore, this site has no control over the copyright issues of the streaming media.
All issues concerning copyright violations should be aimed at the sites hosting the material. This site does not host any of the streaming media and the owner has not uploaded any of the material to the video hosting servers. Anyone can find the same content on Google Video or YouTube by themselves.
The owner of this site cannot know which documentaries are in public domain, which has been uploaded to e.g. YouTube by the owner and which has been uploaded without permission. The copyright owner must contact the source if he wants his material off the Internet completely.