Digital creation

Thomas Garnier : "Taotie" exhibition for Novembre Numérique

I reappropriate certain manufacturing tools derived from new technologies and put them into perspective with older forms of artistic production.

Thomas Garnier creates installations that play on our perception of architectural spaces and the fantasies that surround them. His work Taotie, in which he explores the theme of Phantasmagoria, is being exhibited this year, during the Beta festival in Dublin, as part of Novembre Numérique, the festival of digital cultures coordinated by the Institut français with the French cultural network abroad. 

Published on 14/11/2023

2 min

Born in 1991, Thomas Garnier began by studying architecture, a discipline that would have a lasting impact on his visual approach. After working in particular on the notion of ruins, he joined Le Fresnoy, Studio National des arts contemporains, where his installation Cénotaphe attracted a great deal of attention and was awarded the Révélations Art Numériques prize by ADAGP, the French artists' society. His installations, photographs and prints often revolve around notions of heterotopia and liminality, depicting places of uncertain status. They have been exhibited at a number of major international events, including Nuit Blanche in Belgium, the WRO biennial in Poland, the Nemo biennial and the Chroniques biennial in France, as well as at the Fosun Foundation in Shanghai and the Fiminco Foundation in Paris. 

Following in the footsteps of the philosopher Michel Foucault, Thomas Garnier is interested in heterotopias, those 'other places' that have their own rules and function like utopias. This is the case with his installation, in which an automaton constructs and deconstructs an urban space inspired by the "ghost cities" aesthetic. The term designates unfinished architectural projects that remain frozen in time and acquire true aesthetic value in the eyes of the artist. Cénotaphe thus plays on the superimposition of the installation itself and the retransmission, via a screen, of a long sequence shot moving through the twists and turns of this ghost town. Largely made of concrete, the rubbish created during the production of the piece forms a heap below the city, reminiscent of ruins, whose different parts are revealed as the urban landscape evolves, filtering the light. 

Thomas Garnier's latest piece, Taotie, reflects his desire to use new technologies to confront old techniques and devices. Inspired by the spectacle of Phantasmagoria, a theatre of light and shadow where monsters and fantastic creatures emerge, Taotie reshuffles the deck by invoking the motifs of robotics and contemporary logistics. A robot equipped with lights moves through a city of skeletal buildings, creating a strange tableau of illuminations. This brings us back to the theme of illusion, central to Thomas Garnier's work, but also that of the lives of machines, which sometimes seem meaningless, or on the contrary resonate strangely with our own. Taotie was shown in early November as part of the Beta Festival in Ireland. 

  • 2016


    Master of Architecture at ENSA Paris Val de Seine.

  • 2018


    Le Fresnoy, Studio National des arts contemporains.

  • 2021


    Residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts.

  • 2024


    (Ex)-Futur #2, solo exhibition at the Fernand Léger Gallery.

L'institut français, LAB