m u t a t i o.
A famous astrophysicist once asked whether the scientific explanation of a phenomenon might make us less likely to marvel at it. His conclusion is reassuring: science never excludes chance, and a certain poetry inheres in chance events. As such, the work of the artist is closely related to “the play of nature,” which “gives rise to an almost unlimited variety of complex structures.”* Like biologists studying the texture of a cell, or astronomers contemplating the vastness of the cosmos, we are able to observe the tiniest details of our world, with an eye to discovering images that challenge our senses. Biological detritus thus takes on the appearance of a prehistoric flower, a dirty snowbank melting in spring looks like a breaking wave, and frost patterns resemble an enchanted forest.
At bottom, this is little more than water, a bit of steam, melting crystals, decomposing matter. It is from these almost nothings that Idra Labrie creates works in which an abundant imaginary takes hold. By cultivating the chance in a drop of water that freezes or in harvesting the ephemeral forms of his day-to-day life, Labrie lets us see that which is most distant in what is right here before our eyes. In the end, it is perhaps simply how we look at things that brings about the birth of an image.
*Hubert Reeves, Malicorne: Réflexions d’un observateur de la nature (Paris: Seuil, 1990).