james pinson/Michel Paysant 








Musée des Beaux-Arts – Villa Steinbach
Mulhouse, France.

28 January – 11 April, 2005

This exhibition is mainly based around two of Michel Paysant’s ‘Inventarium’ projects, Inventarium 03 was originally produced for an exhibition at ERBA in Dunkerque and 04 was made in collaboration with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Mulhouse. Paysant’s Inventarium consists of a collaboration between researchers from different disciplines (a physicist, physiologist, botanist, critical theorist, designer, architect etc.). The taxonomies, recordings, models, maps and schemas from these diverse disciplines are brought together in the form of an installation that in 03 and 04 uses custom built tables to present the different material. 03 housed a collection of stones and pebbles found on roads from around the world. These modest rocks are then cut by a precious stone craftsman and presented as ‘Micro-Sculptures’ in a glass case annex of the Inventarium’s main table. Moving down the table we find a eye drawing project which is the result of a collaboration with physiologists and which uses complex eye scanning technology, a collaboration with a ceramicist that produces forms that relate to mathematical expressions and a project entitled ‘architectures de mémoire’ where Paysant has solicited the aid of model makers. These are just a selection of the elements that comprise Inventarium 03.
Such an endeavour can simply be ascribed to the general territory of art and science. But Paysant conditions his material in a very particular way. There is very little if any text to accompany an Inventarium visitor and Paysant speaks of the necessity that the installations are understood visually (faire voir et comprendre). The spectator is obliged to compare and contrast the objects presented in the laboratory-like atmosphere of the installations. In this he understands and puts to work the most important relationship between art and science; that they both use visual representation to construct and communicate ideas of ‘world’. In these conditions Paysant is literally constructing a type of contemporary cabinet of curiousities where a sense of wonder and the poetic are as present as logic and objectivity.
In Inventarium 04 such reactions are very much at work. A model of a roof structure, a recording of John Glen’s heartbeat as he orbited the earth, two pieces of concrete aggregates are all derived from Paysant’s childhood memories. The model is of the roof that was constructed for his parents home, Glen’s heartbeat refers to Paysant’s boyish fascination for the speck in the sky that was in fact in man in space and the aggregates were very early additions to Paysant’s collection of everyday but complex materials such as aggregate and asphalt. However the biographical details are surplus to the fact that Paysant succeeds in creating, in the spectator, an active relationship to objects of understanding. What is compelling is that he encourages this by means of enigma and intrigue.

James Pinson