NOUVEAUX IMMATÉRIAUX: inhuman symposium for the new sublime

Nadia J. Armstrong, Tom Creed, Catherine Fay, Anna Maye, Katharina Steins.


In developing their response to Les Immatériaux, the NOUVEAUX IMMATÉRIAUX team reflected on the questions: “What is the materiality of today’s world, and is there a graspable aspect to our information society?”

NOUVEAUX IMMATÉRIAUX translates the mediation strategies from Les Immatériaux by using a combination of found and original audio material to explore the im/materialities of the 21st century. The resulting experimental acoustic symposium draws on several months of studying original materials from the 1985 exhibition and conducting linguistic experiments on themes immanent in technologies of then and now. Where the original audio featured predominantly white male speakers, this new response gives priority to female, queer, and non-Western voices.

Alongside the audio guide, the exhibition includes a transcription of a discussion between the NOUVEAUX IMMATÉRIAUX team members on their exhibition’s contents, contexts and process, created using speech-to-text technology. Visitors are encouraged to leaf through the pages, explore the subjects within, and get an insight into the research and development process for this presentation.

Photo by Ste Murray /

Philosopher Jean-François Lyotard and curator Thierry Chaput developed Les Immatériaux at Centre Pompidou in 1985. Covering the entirety of the newly founded museum’s fifth floor, the exhibition was split into 31 zones, each of which dealt with a different aspect of postmodern life. As viewers journeyed through the labyrinth of artworks and technological artefacts, they were accompanied by an experimental audio guide which transmitted philosophical and literary texts, music and sound compositions through a network of radio signals in the space, creating associations with the objects and ideas on display. The exhibition catalogue included transcripts of a conversation on more than 50 keywords relevant to the exhibition’s contents and context, conducted between writers, artists, philosophers and thinkers and created using a very early form of internet technology.

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