thabir – LookingOutwards02

Caddis, Hubert Duprat

The generative work which I find most fascinating is the work of French sculptor Hubert Duprat. Duprat’s work spans the entire gamut of techniques, materials, and genres, however the one aspect which stays constant is his utilization of the effective complexity found in nature to create sensual experiences, which are all the more ethereal for their being so organic. In the video linked below, Duprat discusses three of his pieces:

The first is a sculpture made out of attached sections of PVC pipe that, due to a trick of the light, are made to look both as if they were cast from metal and made of bubbles. However, this work wouldn’t yet be considered generative according to Galanter’s theory of generative art, since, even though he is mimicking the mathematical patterns of nature, he is not yet relinquishing control over aspects of his work. His second piece utilizes the natural simplicity of crystals to come up with a simple, stacked structure emulating the simplicity of the crystal itself.

However, his most famous body of work, started in the early 80s, is also that which would unambiguously be defined as generative: his work with the caddisfly larvae. The caddisfly is a common fresh water insect which naturally constructs elaborate tube shaped shells for itself using found detritus from the bottom of the river. Duprat started removing these insects from the bottom of the river, removing their protective layer and storing them instead in a tank whose bottom was lines with gold flakes and semi-precious stones. Deprived of their natural building materials, the insect is forced to construct its tube out of gold.

I would definitely call this a generative piece, due to the relinquished control over the specifics of the tube construction. Duprat refers to these sculptures as collaborations between him and a caddisfly, clearly showing the importance of the natural architectural instincts of the instinct to the piece. Due to the inherently organic nature of the final construction, the piece has an extremely complex approach to complexity (more in line with effective complexity than Shannon’s high information density). Like all biological occurrences, there are clear patterns visible, however these patterns are obscured with great quantities of chance, abstraction, and evolution, all of which heighten the uncanniness of these gold shells.

All of his pieces, unlike much art that tends towards the generative genre, have a captivating materiality and/or texture to them that both draws us closer while also pulling the work back. This piece is in line with the rest of Duprat’s work which seems to be a meditation on the viscerally sensorial aspects of effective complexity.