by Julie Demers
Artist, essayist and poet Ollivier Dyens is contributing his ideas on
technologys effect on society to an exhibition at New Yorks
New Museum of Contemporary Art.
Living Inside the Grid is a museum-wide exhibition of 24 international
emerging artists who use the motif of a grid to describe the challenges
of living in a world increasingly controlled by institutions, technology,
and media. It has been on since February 28 and continues to June 15.
The museums Web site says it all: The inhabited grid has become
an irreducible sign of the world we live in. From the Internet to
the city streets to the subway, we live in an overlapping network of grids.
In both obvious and hidden ways, these grids are now everywhere.
Dyens is an assistant professor in Concordias Département
détudes françaises. He has created two publications,
Feux chalins, the only French literary magazine in Nova Scotia,
and Chair et métal, a Web site that analyzes the impact
of technology on contemporary society; it is also the namesake of his
most recent, prize-winning book.
Dan Cameron, senior curator of Living Inside the Grid, chose an
excerpt from Dyens book Metal and Flesh: The Evolution of Man:
Technology Takes Over for the shows catalogue: Relationships
among human beings are now inseparable from machines and technology, and
contemporary works of art reflect that.
Dyens will take part in a symposium at the museum on May 3, and will
call his presentation Pornography and Collective Bodies: The Reality of
We now believe were more individualist [than ever], but I
think that technology has brought about just the opposite, he said.
Inside each of us live thousands of bacteria, living organisms dependent
on each other. Networks are everywhere, and were all part of many.
The grid crystallizes this collective intelligence and the network allow
for the possibility of a common brain.
The Web represents the two poles of the disappearance of the individual,
Dyens said. On one hand, it is the salvation of humanity and individuals,
and on the other hand, it is the negation of the individual, since no
fertility can come out of it. It celebrates, at the same time, the
indi- vidual and the end of the indi- vidual.
Its not the first time Dyens has been asked to contribute to such
Last year, he was invited to participate in a symposium on digital art
held by the Maryland Institute College of Arts in Baltimore.
With his department, he is working toward creating a masters program
in Littérature francophone et résonances médiatiques,
in which the focus will be on multimedia and Internet.
The program is expected to begin offering courses in September 2004.