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Michel Paysant


OnLAB (Laboratoire d’Oeuvres Nouvelles), brainchild of the artist Michel Paysant, is a research project in which art, science and technology overlap. One of its major realisations are highly innovative, nanoscopic (millionths of a millimetre) and microscopic artworks. Produced in partnership with Giancarlo Faini and Christian Ulysse, researchers at the Photonics and Nanostructures Laboratory at the French centre for scientific research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS), these are truly groundbreaking works in the fields of art and science.

Courtesy de Institut français, en collaboration avec Le Laboratoire de Phototonique et de Nanostructures du Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) et Immersion
© photo : OnLAB - Michel Paysant / G. Faini et C. Ulysse, LPN-CNRS 2009/2011

Michel Paysant questions the limits which the naked eye imposes when viewing an artwork and responds with original, contemporary artworks on an unprecedented scale, inspired by architecture, originals in the Louvre’s collections, and modern art.

The OnLAB interactive exhibition combines the work of museum curators, laboratory researchers and partner companies with that of a contemporary artist who addresses themes of collaborative projects, archives, museology, the status of the artwork, and technology’s contribution to art. OnLAB invites us to view ad oculum and ad instrumentum; it is the museum for the year 3000.

Michel Paysant’s installation, in its fictional and functional dimensions, sets out to stage and reveal the invisible, the imperceptible, the unseen. Visitors are struck by the vastly different scales that these “infinitely tiny sculpted specks of gold dust - nanoworks” bring to the fore. They can build their own museum project and metaphorically recompose the world.

As an open, poetic, polyphonic, polysemous project, OnLABengineers a two-way dialogue between art and the surrounding worlds. It seeks to “re-enchant” the world as it draws the observer into an astonishing journey back and forth between reality and fiction.

Michel Paysant HATTUSHA (Grand Temple)
© photo : OnLAB - Michel Paysant / G. Faini et C. Ulysse, LPN-CNRS 2009/2011

Michel Paysant is a multifaceted artist with a particular interest in drawing and sculpture. His research explores crossovers between art and science, often in the form of group projects. His installations are fluid, polymorphous structures through which he builds bridges between art, craft, science, technique and new technologies (Inventariums, Eyedrawing, Nusquam, ...).

Giancarlo Faini has been research director at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) since 1988. His specialist field is the electronic properties of nanostructures for semiconductors, magnetic metals and supraconductors in mesoscopic quantum physics and nanospintronics. His experimental research draws on his expertise in measuring electronic transport at very low temperature and in high magnetic fields. He is also closely involved in developing new manufacturing processes for nano-objects with his team at the CNRS and with other laboratories. These art-science-technology projects bring his expertise in nanotechnologies into contact with Michel Paysant's artistic sensibility in a common desire for collaboration.

Christian Ulysse is a research engineer at the Photonics and Nanostructures Laboratory at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), at the head of the electronic microscopy department. He specialises in electron beam lithography and metallisation techniques. He produces samples for French and international projects that require expertise in these two areas of nanosciences.


  • Nadine Erpelding