Unveiled 2022

by Pierre Huyghe


  • label.created 2021
  • Unveiled 2022
  • Materials Scanned forest, real-time simulation, generative mutations and sounds, intelligent camera, environmental sensors, animals, plants, micro-organisms and materialized mutations: synthetic and biological material aggregate.
  • Artist Pierre Huyghe
  • Where Show on map

We want to inform you that Variants is now closed. The tentative reopening is June 13, depending on the river's water level. If you are visiting Kistefos specifically to experience Variants, it might be wise to wait until July.

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On the occasion of work number 50 in the sculpture park, the work Variants by the French artist Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962, Paris) was opened. Variants is made especially for Kistefos and is located on a previously inaccessible island that is periodically flooded by the Randselva.

The location was chosen by Huyghe himself, and it entails a significant expansion of the landscape and Kistefos as a whole. Variants is Huyghe’s largest permanent work to date, and the most ambitious Kistefos sculpture park commission so far.

In the initial phase, the artist has taken as a starting point what is naturally found on the island. A biologist has mapped the species, a surveyor has taken precise measurements, water levels and water flow have been studied, and stones, plants, trees, insects, animals, rubbish, sounds and smells have been thoroughly documented and used in the artist's further work.

In the summer of 2021, the island was scanned using point cloud technology. The 3D model of the island forms the basis for a simulation that unfolds in real-time on the LED screen at the far end of the island. The simulation is controlled by artificial intelligence according to a separate set of rules and guidelines that differ from the island's natural laws.

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The simulation is influenced and informed by what takes place on the island through climate sensors, and creates mutations based on this information. The mutations will occasionally leave the simulation and manifest physically on the island. The location of the physical mutations is made in direct relation to the place where they have occurred in the simulation. Thus there exist two environments, or versions, of the island, both of which influence each other: a physical one and a digital one. Together they form a multipolar being that contains both the island itself and what the island could be in an alternative reality.

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Courtesy of the artist; Hauser and Wirth, London
3D Scanning, Pointcloud Visualisation and Engines by ScanLAB Projects
© Pierre Huyghe

Pierre Huyghe Variants

Pierre Huyghe, Variants, 2021 Courtesy of the artist; Hauser and Wirth, London; Kistefos 3D Scanning, point cloud visualization and point cloud engine by ScanLAB Projects © Pierre Huyghe

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Pierre Huyghe about the work:


2021 – ongoing

Scanned forest, real-time simulation, generative mutations and sounds, intelligent camera, environmental sensors, animals, plants, micro-organisms and materialized mutations: synthetic and biological material aggregate.

Variants is a multipolar entity that perceives, generates and modifies. It is simultaneously an island and what that island could be in an alternate reality.

The island has been scanned to become the environment of a live simulation. The two milieux, physical and digital, are permeable.

A fictional narrative gives a set of rules and prompts, played out by an artificial neural network that generates unpredictable mutations in the simulation, of what is present on the island, animate or inanimate, sounds or things, such as trees, trash, animals, or humans.

As contingent and fluctuant events occur within the island, in its geochemical or biological activity, the generated mutations change behavior in real time and the recurring floodwater accelerates their growth. The intelligences hosted by the spectral space are in an unresolved sympoiesis and permanent crisis.

Occasionally, mutations exit the simulation and manifest physically on the island where they sustain or decay, contaminating the existing reality with an unknown possibility of itself, progressively modifying the island’s appearance.

A path cutting through the island leads to a screen where the simulated environment is navigated by an autonomous and anxious eye, witnessing the island’s ever-changing nature.

As the flood submerges the island, it becomes inaccessible. But whether immersive or impenetrable, the indifferent entity continues.

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Production credits

Pierre Huyghe Studio

Anne Stenne, producer and curator

Sara Simon, producer, real-time simulation creative director

Assisted by Anne-Sophie Tisseyre, Elizabeth Burmann, Bernardita Pérez, Eduardo Pérez, Sofia Jiron, Jennifer Cohen

Real time simulation

Technical Direction, Real time System: Pixels Pixels
Technical Director: Ivaylo Getov
Lead Technical Artist: Shuruq Tramontini
Generative System Lead: Caco Peguero
Graphics Development: Nick Shelton

3D Modeling: Miwa Espinoza, Michelle Recio, Francisco Cangas Seiba, Alejandro Medina, Dirt Empire - 3D Design Studio (Nicholas Rubin - 3D Lead and Sculpting, Peter Panton - 3D Animation, Oliver Carr - 3D Modeling) Assistant 3D Modeling: Breanna Browning

Machine Learning and AI: Sarah Schwettmann

Sound Design: John Brumley, Gregorio Fontaine Correa

Sound database: Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Carolyn Rosten and Sarab S. Sethi

Environmental Sensors: De Vinci Innovation Center

Model: Angelica Spejelkavik Sparre

3D Scanning, Pointcloud Visualisation and Engine:
Matt Shaw: Creative Director
Tom Brooks: Pointcloud Capture and Computational Design Lead
Jacques Pillet: Software Developer
Grey Greison: Pointcloud Capture Specialist
Emilia Clark: Production Manager

Physical milieu

3D Modeling and Production: Kunstgiesserei St-Gallen AG
Living: Amanda Falch
Beekeeper: Nanna Melland
Landscaping, planting: TNT, Villflor, Toppsopp
Architectural planning and realization: motorplan Architekten und Ingenieure, ELEMENTArkitekter AS
Engineering: Dipl.-Ing. Florian Kosche AS Norconsult
Construction and electricity: ITO Produksjon AS, Frya Grustak a/s, M. Carlsen & Sønn AS
Ground survey: Berntsen Plan & Oppmåling AS

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