Samuel Bianchini, Emanuele Quinz (Eds.) – Behavioral Objects 1 – A Case Study: Celeste Boursier-Mougenot


Sternberg Press, ISBN-13: 978-3956791727, English, 224 pages, 2016, Germany

This is a research project and a case study focused on illustrating “behavioural objects” in art and design. Attempting to precisely define behavioural objects is a hard task. So the authors suggest three criteria to distinguish it from other dynamic objects: it should have “a material form which immediately associates it with living things”, it “operates” but not necessarily “fulfils a function”, and it possesses “autonomy of movement”.  This autonomy, which we tend to interpret mainly as unpredictability, and that can escalate to agency, are qualities that affects our judgement towards apparently living entities. In art, this can be traced back to kinetic art movements and to contemporary art installations with behavioural elements. The book revolves around the case study on three Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s artworks reflecting such a classification: from here to ear, offroad and rêvolutions; the latter of which is probably the most famous, as it was installed at the French pavilion during the Venice Biennale 2015. They are discussed in various forms: academic papers, essays and a long interview with the artist, while they’re also visually documented in all the different installed declinations. The case study’s whole articulation represents then a comprehensive insight into the social relationships with artificial entities, under the lens of their artwork forms. After a few decades of sci-fi narrative, our imagination finally has to come to terms with such familiar forms, endowed with engaging relational behaviours.