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Joanie Lemercier: Lightscapes. Representing the natural world through technology.

Updated: May 4, 2023



Seeing a breathtaking image of the most unique parts of the world are impacting, but have you ever wondered what that impact would be like in a 3D ´sensory´ digital format?

Joanie Lemercier, a French visual artist successfully creates this digital impact in his first major solo exhibition in Madrid, Spain-Fundación Telefonica. Curated by Julitee Bibase, this exhibition is a representation of the natural environment through technology. One that Bibase describes as addressing not only the importance of nature in Lemercier's life and artistic career, but also unveiling the overwhelming urgency to safeguard our environment from further exploitation.

A creator in the artistic use of video mapping, Lemercier's work focuses on creating artwork through light in space producing experiences that alter our perception of reality.

Through the use of computer programming and abstract projections of light, Lemercier introduces the naïve city dweller into a new nature - a digital nature that starkly distorts our reality and perception of time and space.

The exhibition includes seven immersive audiovisual installations that take the viewer on a journey through different captivating landscapes. The first part of the exhibition is rather poetic capturing the spectacular beauty of nature, volcanoes and imaginary geographies that stem from a collaboration between man and machine. In the second part, Lemercier abandons fiction and confronts the viewer to the reality of an overexploited environment.

The viewer experiences an overwhelming paradox of sadness and beauty. Beauty in the performance of these “digitally manufactured environments” and a sadness in understanding that this stripped back version of landscape is an artistic depiction of an ugly and sad truth.

Lemercier's extensive interest in physical structures, geometry, algorithms and minimalist forms has found a new way to connect the next generation of inhabitants to a world that is quickly moving into dissolution. Almost intrinsically, his deconstructed landscapes are a reminder of what is actually happening in the real world and a wake-up call to what we might lose if we don't act now.

Exhibition installations

1. Edges

2020 – 2021

Visual installation. Video projection on three surfaces.

Edges is a simple architectural structure onto which are projected minimalist geometries of projected light.

Exploring a dehumanised technological landscape, Lemercier uses simple geometries and shadows to create dynamic planes generating three dimensional sensations that play with our perception of space.

Edges is an introduction to Lemercier’s key elements of expression: wireframes, grids, geometries, lines, shapes and shadows. This simple code along with mathematics forms the basis of highly detailed computer-generated artworks of complex landscapes and realistic textures, which visitors will discover as they walk through the exhibition.

2. Mountain, one hundred and fourteen thousand polygons

2016 - 2018

Visual installation. Digital print on paper and video projection.

This piece shows a large valley surrounded by mountain peaks created with an algorithm-distorted grid. In this imaginary landscape, Lemercier blurs the line between what we consider to be real or simulated with mathematical functions.

An illusion of depth is created through a layer of projected light. Cycles of days, nights and seasons bring this landscape to life distorting our reality and perception of time and space.

3. Eyjafjallajökull


Audiovisual installation. Drawing, video projection and music ( Paul Jebanasam and Robert Henke (Oomoo, excerpt of “Signal to Noise II“).

This piece is inspired by the Icelandic volcano, which caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe in May 2010.

A wireframe topography, drawn directly on two perpendicular walls, is slowly revealed by gentle light effects which alter the viewers perception of space. Faced with the overwhelming grandeur of nature, the visitor is transported back to the scene of the enormous explosion that resulted in one of Iceland’s largest volcanoes to produce a gigantic ash plume.

4. Fuji (不死)


Audiovisual installation. Drawing, video projection and music (Paul Jebanasam).

Fuji is part of Lemercier‘s ongoing artwork series on volcanoes. It consists of a large-scale, hand-drawing of Mount Fuji, intensified by a layer of projected light. The abstract narratives are inspired by the legend of Kaguya Hime, a 10th century Japanese folktale, which provides a poetic narrative to this immersive environment.

5. Possible Landscapes

2016 - 2021

Installation. Drawing machine, paper, pens and computer.

Possible landscapes plotter machine installation
Photo: Possible Landscapes, plotter machine

An installation comprised of a plotter machine inspired by Hungarian-French pioneer computer artist Vera Molnar. The machine acts as an extension of Lemercier´s hand, drawing unique and intricate landscapes created by simple code with the use of different types of software and computer tools.

6. The Hambach Forest and the Technological Sublime

2019 - 2021

Multi-screen audiovisual installation.

Video projection, music and silkscreen prints.

The Hambach Project and the Technological Sublime is one of Lemercier´s recent creations and is structured around 4 immersive audiovisual installations, depicting the largest coal mine of Europe and its impact on the environment.

The installation Here Once Stood a Forest is inspired by and dedicated to the Hambach forest located in Cologne and Aachen, Germany. Estimated to be 12,000 years old and a regional beacon of biodiversity, it has now been called “the last remnant of a sylvan ecosystem that has occupied this part of the Rhine River plain since the end of the last ice age”. Today, the forest is only 10% of its former size. The rest has been cleared to make room for the Hambach surface mine, the largest of its kind in Europe.

Lemercier´s installation celebrates the beauty and rich biodiversity of this ancient forest. Showcasing the forest during the day and night, where in the night view, a ray of light reveals the structural beauty of flowers and trees cut down and destroyed for the expansion of the mine. By capturing this vanishing beauty at night, Lemercier encourages visitors to contemplate our ability to see the world and renew our commitment to it.

Slow Violence shows the shocking reality of environmental destruction of the Hambach Forest by one of Europe’s largest and most polluting coal mines.

The Hambach surface mine is a large open-pit coal mine covering an area of 50 square kilometres.

It is operated by RWE and used for mining lignite. Everyday it emits around 270,000 tons of CO₂, making it the largest single source of greenhouse gases in Europe.

Extraction is set to continue for another 18 years, erasing the Hambach Forest entirely and inflicting damage on the local communities and cultural heritage monuments with the demolition of buildings and villages in order to make way for the mine.

Editing hours of drone footage and projection work into an immersive installation, Lemercier confronts us to scenes of unspeakable climate injustice. The installation shows a Bagger 293, a giant bucket wheel-excavator slowly and continuously scraping the earth to make the largest man-made hole in Europe.

With Action, Comes Hope is the last installation of The Hambach Project and the Technological Sublime. Since 2012 the Hamburg forest has been a symbol of Germany's fight against climate change. The installation shows impressive footage of environmental activism in action. Lemercier has joined these environmental groups on numerous occasions supporting and documenting their cause.

Captivated by the simple beauty of clouds, Lemecier has produced a series of monochrome silkscreen prints called Point Clouds. In this series, Lemercier combines clouds with smoke from the power plants surrounding the plant, making it impossible to work out what is natural or pollution.

7. Desirable Futures

2020 - 2021

Visual installation. Video projection and photography.

Desirable Futures photography and projections installation
Photo: Desirable Futures, 2020 - 2021

A space for contemplation and reflection packed with a mix of photography and projections.

Here, Lemercier invites visitors to reflect on the present and to to think creatively about the future and to put those new ideas into action.


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