Friday, June 20, 2014

La Cour Des Miracles at Wood Street Galleries

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July 11 – September 7, 2014 | Wood Street Galleries | 601 Wood Street
Exhibition Opening & Reception | July 11, 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Pittsburgh, PA—The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the opening of La Cour des Miracles (The Court of Miracles) by artists Bill Vornand and Louis-Philippe Demers. The exhibition is on view at Wood Street Galleries July 11–September 7, 2014. An opening reception takes place during the Trust’s quarterly Gallery Crawl Friday, July 11, 2014, from 5:30–9 p.m.

La Cour des Miracles is an interactive robotic installation that reacts to viewers’ presence in a multimedia environment. This installation follows the artists’ approach to creating fictitious spaces designed for machine populations and cybernetic organism societies, in which viewers become both explorers and intruders. The title of the exhibition originates from the slum districts of Paris—cour des miracles—in which begging was a means of survival for the populations of these areas in the 1600s. Beggars in these cour des miracles faked injuries, deformities, and diseases in order to receive more alms, and once returned to their home in the slums, their ailments were miraculously cured.

By creating a universe of faked realities, the artists suggest that the aim of this installation is to induce viewers’ empathy toward the “characters,” which are solely articulated metallic structures. Six robotic characters populate the installation: The Begging Machine, The Convulsive Machine, The Crawling Machine, The Harassing Machine, The Heretic Machine, and The Limping Machine.

Also on view is Vorn’s DSM-VI, a robotic universe that stages creatures expressing symptoms of “abnormal” psychological behaviors and stuck with some serious “mental health” problems, such as neurosis, psychosis, personality disorders, paranoia, schizophrenia, depression, delirium, and other forms of behavior and mental disorders. The project title is inspired by the reference manual published by the American Psychiatric Association: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM.

Sometimes glorified, sometimes highly criticized, the DSM-V describes and classifies human behavior disorders and mental diseases. With this project, Vorn proposes DSM version VI. Just as La Cour des Miracles is conceived around the idea of “the misery of the machines,” the DSM-VI project pursues Vorn’s creative work on the metaphor of the living by now investigating the notion of a “psychosis of the machines.”
The installation is presented as a “tableau vivant,” or living picture—a vast and complicated labyrinth reminiscent of the cages of a zoological garden or the corridors of an asylum for the mentally ill. In this strange universe made of metal scaffoldings, electrical cables, and suspended ducts, vague and evasive shapes can be seen through the haze. Mysterious creatures inhabit this place, sometimes totally uninterested when the viewers walk by, sometimes completely wild and crazy because of the intrusion in their intimate environment.

Bill Vorn, based in Montréal, has been working in the field of robotic art for more than 20 years. His installation and performance projects involve robotics and motion control, sound, lighting, video, and cybernetic processes. Vorn holds a Ph.D. in communication studies from Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada. He teaches electronic arts in the Department of Studio Arts at Concordia University, Montréal. Vorn is responsible for the robotic art research-creation lab of the Hexagram Institute at Concordia University. Vorn’s work has been presented extensively internationally, and he received numerous awards. He has worked in collaboration with many Canadian artists, including Edouard Lock, Robert Lepage, Gilles Maheu, Istvan Kantor, and Louis-Philippe Demers.

Louis-Philippe Demers is a multidisciplinary artist using machines as media. He worked on the conception and production of several large-scale interactive robotic installations, so far realizing more than 225 machines. His robotics works are found in theater, opera, subway stations, art museums, science museums, music events, and trade shows. Demers has participated in more than 70 artistic and stage productions while collaborating with recognized artists, such as Bill Vorn, Christian Möller, Stelarc, Robert Lepage, Peter Gabriel, and Le Cirque du Soleil. His works have been awarded several prizes and featured at major international venues. Demers is associate professor at the School of Art, Design and Media, at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

About Wood Street Galleries
Wood Street Galleries is located at 601 Wood Street. Gallery hours: Wed. & Thur. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public. Wood Street Galleries is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Support for Wood Street Galleries has been provided by the Howard Heinz Endowment and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Additional support provided by the Port Authority of Allegheny County. For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please

About the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Cultural Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. For more information, visit

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Images Courtesy of the Artists

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