With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life (Purple, Rule #3)

Philippe Parreno French (born Algeria)

Not on view

Parreno rose to international prominence in the 1990s alongside a group of contemporaries and often collaborators such as Pierre Huyghe and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster who work across a diverse range of media, including film, sculpture, performance, and drawing. Additionally, like his peers, Parreno often approaches the exhibition itself as a medium, using the exhibition experience to explore the passage of time as well as the boundaries between fact and fiction, organic and mechanized, subject and object. The results are both intellectually rich and aesthetically striking.

This time-based installation continues the artist’s longstanding explorations of chance, animism, life cycles, and energy. Composed of hundreds of black and white drawings of a firefly Parreno has made over the past five years that flicker across a large LED screen, the animation draws inspiration from "The Game of Life," a cellular automaton based on a grid system, developed by British mathematician John Horton Conway in the 1970s. Parreno’s adaptation of Conway’s algorithms demonstrates how complex patterns can emerge, as if spontaneously, from a set of simple rules. Beneath the large flickering fireflies, a horizontal band runs just above the floor where shifting purple pixels represent Conway’s grid system. The emergence, presence, and disappearance of lit cells—the cycle of cellular life—determines both the sequence of images and the intensity of sound accompanying the animation. Each sequence of drawings, unique and self-determined, animates the screen for a particular lifespan, lasting a few minutes up to many hours, and ends in a "death" marked by a firefly drawing frozen on the screen for several seconds. After each death a new life begins as another unique animation sequence begins. With a Rhythmic Instinction to be Able to Travel Beyond Existing Forces of Life (Purple, Rule #3) lyrically reveals the fragile pattern of a lifecycle through now digital means: creation, change, chance, and death.

No image available

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.