Do you want to live forever?

Ghost in the machine, the title of the exhibition at 21bis Mirabeau, a departmental cultural centre, evokes the metaphor of the ghost and the conception of Cartesian dualism separating the body from the soul, and lost souls from the past who come to haunt the present and the world of the living. Since then, the belief in ghosts, which became a popular phenomenem, has gradually died out, but the mystery of death and the desire for immortality still remain alive, pursued by transhumanists.

The works in the exhibition question this old human dream in a poetic, sensitive, and sometimes even humorous and ironic way. Through these images of vanity, spiritualism, specters, zombies and souvenir portraits, the artists remind us of the short duration of human existence while, at the same time, portraying the extension of human life with the help of science and technology.

By inventing the phonograph, considered as an instrument capable of immortalizing the voice of an individual beyond death, Thomas Edison was one of the first scientists of the modern era to work on machines capable of immortalizing elements of the human being, thus giving substance to spectral and ghostly forms. Fascinated by death and the survival of the soul, Edison devoted the last ten years of his own life to developing his unfinished project, the necrophone, a scientific device for communicating with the dead.

Basically in their evolution, modern communication techniques – the telephone, radio, cinema, television, computers… – have not made this notion of specter disappear. On the contrary, these machines have suddenly multiplied the opportunities for our “ghosts” to come and haunt us, they record everything beyond or below human perception, to the point that today they provide the possibility to immortalize our data and create our own ghostly avatars in the real world.

Curator: Mathieu Vabre

Co-production: 21bis Mirabeau, departmental cultural centre, and CHRONIQUES, Biennial of Digital Imagination, a SECONDE NATURE and ZINC conception.

With the support of the Department of Bouches-du-Rhône.