Conceptual artist testing the line between human and inhuman
Huyghe’s recent work operates on timescales, and is created through processes, that test the limits of human understanding. He typically achieves this by incorporating elements beyond the artist’s control into constructed ecosystems: a garden pollinated by bees; a derelict ice rink populated by various lifeforms. At the end of a year that saw his first solo show in China (at Pond Society, Shanghai), Huyghe’s new exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, London, combines human, artificial and animal intelligences. Freestanding LED screens show hallucinatory images generated by the attempts of a deep-learning network to reconstruct a mental image by measuring a human’s brain activity. The screens are speckled with bluebottles born into the gallery from an incubator while their dead conspecifics litter the floor, their experience of the world having been limited to the exhibition. If the title – UUmwelt, which nods to his 2011 work Umwelt, shown that year at Esther Schipper, Berlin – suggests Huyghe has spent the year developing a theme rather than breaking new ground, then it’s one with infinite possible variations.