Tunnels Around the World / Maurice Benayoun

Co-commissioned by ZERO1 and Media City Seoul. Created in collaboration with composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière and presented in partnership with City University Hong Kong School of Creative Media.

Long time no dig… Seventeen years after the first virtual tunnel: The Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995), linking the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, and fifteen years after the Paris New Delhi Tunnel, now is the moment when it is technically possible to think about creating the whole project as it was conceived and imagined by its author Maurice Benayoun. Tunnels Around the World will telematically connect San Jose, CA with Seoul, Korea and numerous other sites around the world. Low Tech, high level Tunnels When the original projects were using, for each end of the tunnel, tens of highly powerful and expensive pieces of vintage electronics, sharing video, virtual reality and specialized interactive and generative sound and music, through a pathetically indigent single ISDN pipe, it is now possible to make it simple and accessible to anybody connected to the Net. New Tunnels, New Digging The Tunnel Around the World doesn't mimic the original "digging" tool. It remains a spectacular way to dig into a cultural material. The matter will be made of pictures from the Reunion des Musées Nationaux database that we expect to extend with any partner's database made of pictures of past culture (paintings, photos, sculptures, video, films, photos etc.). The Digging effect In the original Tunnels, the pictures use to become like blocks of marble and digging holes and galleries helped to see details from the original image, like digging inside memory, creating sometime big caves were all the kaleidoscopic fragments whisper syllables from our cultural past.

Meeting through Tunnels The original Tunnels constituted ways to meet people after reducing the cultural obstacle made of pictures. The video image of the other, located at the other end of the Tunnel, was floating, at its place in the virtual space like a video avatar. This was the best way to see who we are meeting, and start another level of dialogue (after the specialized sound dialogue that helped in finding the direction to dig in order to meet). Slices of cultural matter In the new version, we will be digging into images we can face. No distortion. Coming closer we see the next one and the previous one has been dug with a circular hole. We can change the direction like changing content, and eventually we meet people from elsewhere saying "Hi" or more… Cultural Diversity Each location hosting the art installation version can provide a specific database possibly made of photos from public collections (with all the legal rights to do so). Interactive Generative Music Digging into image is a physical experience. It cannot reach the best intensity without sound interaction. A first version will be made together with the music composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière, who collaborated on many of MB installations and did specifically the Paris New Delhi Tunnel sound work. An online art-game Tunnels Around the World will run on the Internet so thousands of people can participate. A Biennial and Museum connected art installation Some privileged locations will use the same tool in broadband high definition, large scale. A special kit with software and all technical requirements will allow all motivated places to participate in Tunnels Around the World with specific installations in addition to the installations at the ZERO1 Biennial and Media City Seoul.

This project is presented as part of the exhibition
Seeking Silicon Valley at the ZERO1 Garage
September 12-December 8, 2012
Admission is free

Maurice Benayoun

lives and works in Paris, France

Artist website


Maurice Benayoun (AKA MoBen) is a pioneering new-media artist whose work has been seen, and honored, around the globe. Born in Mascara, Algeria, in 1957, Benayoun is based in Paris, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His work employs various media — including (and often combining) video, virtual reality, the Web, wireless technology, performance, public-space large-scale art installations and interactive exhibitions.