Artists Get Back to the Roots in Ruinart’s Ancient Chalk Cellars

Sept. 24, 2019

In celebration of the ten-year countdown to Ruinart’s 300th anniversary, the oldest champagne house invited an international audience to visit their stunning chalk cellars in Reims, France this autumn. During the visit, they unveiled a newly commissioned artwork by artist duo Mouawad Laurier, entitled ‘Retour aux sources’ (Back to the source). The installation visually mimics a root and is powered by a sensitive artificial intelligence, which uses its technology to react to the changing conditions of the actual natural elements used in the champagne production process.

Mouawad Laurier is the collective name of two artists, Maya Mouawad and Cyril Laurier, who created this and similar projects together over the past 15 years. The duo is credited with having pioneered video mapping technology and their works have often integrated complex technology and artificial intelligence, as well as intricate sound and music components.

‘Retour aux sources’ is an autonomous entity that inhabits the ancient chalk cellar, and is able to perceive the world around it. This sensitive root structure expresses the changes in seasons, climate, wind and temperature, as well as the phases in winemaking including budbreak, harvest, fermentations, riddling and maturation. Mouawad Laurier emphasizes the intelligence of plants, as opposed to our perception of them as mere objects. “We need to understand that we depend on nature. We need to feel the connection we have with our environment,” explained Mouawad in her presentation of ‘Retour aux sources.’ “Since we are able to control light and temperature, we don’t realize their power…This space is about feeling that mutual dependence.”

Berlin Art Link visited Reims and photographed the installation inside the impressive Ruinart chalk caves.

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