Maurice Benayoun

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Maurice Benayoun
Maurice Benayoun in 2000
Maurice Benayoun

(1957-03-29) 29 March 1957 (age 66)
EducationPantheon-Sorbonne University
Known forNew Media Art
Notable workQuarxs (1991)
Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995)
World Skin, a Photo Safari in the Land of War (1997)
AwardsGolden Nica
Ars Electronica 1998,
Chevalier des Arts et Lettres 2000,
Siggraph 1991,
Villa Medicis hors les murs, 1993,
Imagina, 1993,
International Monitor Awards...

Maurice Benayoun (aka MoBen or 莫奔) (born 29 March 1957) is a French new-media artist, curator, and theorist based in Paris and Hong Kong.[1]

His work employs various media, including video, computer graphics, immersive virtual reality, the Internet, performance, EEG, 3D Printing, large-scale urban media art, robotics, NFTs, and Blockchain based artworks, installations and interactive exhibitions.


Born in Mascara, Algeria, in March 1957, as a war orphan. His father was killed before his birth in the Algerian independence war. He moved to France in 1958, following his mother and his brother, to live in popular suburbs in north Paris where the family stayed during most of his childhood.


Bennayoun's doctorate thesis at the Sorbonne, Artistic Intentions at Work, Hypothesis for Committing Art, was published in 2011.[2]


World Skin (1997), Maurice Benayoun's Virtual Reality Interactive Installation

Benayoun taught in contemporary and fine arts at Pantheon-Sorbonne University. In 1987 he co-founded Z-A Production (1987–2003), a computer graphics and virtual reality private lab.[citation needed]

Between 1990 and 1993, Benayoun collaborated with Belgian graphic novelists François Schuiten and philosopher Benoît Peeters on Quarxs, the first animation series made of HD computer graphics, exploring variant creatures with alternate physical laws.[3]

For his first solo show, Benayoun presented a virtual reality installation linking two art museums: the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.[4] Benayoun conceived and directed the exhibition Cosmopolis, Overwriting the City (2005), an art and science immersive installation presented during the French Year in China in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, and Chongqing. This was Maurice Benayoun's first experience in China, and the reception by the public played an important role in later Benayoun's move to Asia.[5]

Key concepts[edit]

Sublimation vs Reification – Benayoun identified two main trends affect the evolution of the human experience of materiality. Borrowing the term from chemistry, Sublimation is the operation converting the world into data that can be treated at the same time by natural or artificial intelligence. This allows the cognitive integration of the physical as well as its absolute control. Coming from Karl Marx, Reification is the conversion of thoughts into objects. The process requires EEG (Electro Encephalography) and BCI (Brain-Computer Interaction) in association with construction technologies like 3D Printing.[6]

Open Media, in 2000, considered his works as a form of Open Media Art, paraphrasing Jon Ippolito, not limited to the traditional forms, media and economic schemes of art, but also not necessarily based on a specific medium, digital or using technologies. Open takes here the sense of freedom in the means of expression.[7]

Infra-realism – (Infra-realisme in French, could be interpreted as 'sub-realism') was coined in the early 90s to describe the specificity of the new form of realism emerging from 3D computer graphics. During the production of Quarxs (1989–1993), the author, Benayoun wanted to identify the difference between visual realism based on the transcription of how the world reflects light, and what he called Infra-realism, or "realism of the depth" or "the deep realism behind the surface".[8]

Selected awards[edit]

Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995), Maurice Benayoun's Virtual Reality Installation
Cosmopolis (2005), Maurice Benayoun's large scale Virtual Reality Interactive Installation
  • Prix Ars Electronica Visionary Pioneer of Media Art (nomination), 2014
  • SACD Award, Interactive Arts, Paris, June 2009
  • Golden Nica (first prize), interactive art category, ARS ELECTRONICA Festival, Linz, Austria, 1998
  • Jose Abel Prize, Best European animation film, Cinanima, Animation Film Festival of Espinho, Portugal, October 1994
  • Best Electronic Special Effects, International Monitor Awards, Los Angeles, 1993
  • Best Video Paint Design, International Monitor Award, Los Angeles 1993
  • First Prize Pixel INA, Opens Title category Imagina '93, Monte Carlo, February 1993
  • First Prize, Third Dimension Award, SCAM, Paris, November 1991
  • 1st Prize, Artistic Animation category, Truevision competition, SIGGRAPH, Las Vegas, 1991



  1. ^ Paul Catanese, Director's Third Dimension: Fundamentals of 3d Programming in Director 8.5, Sams Publishing, 2001, p314. ISBN 0-672-32228-5
  2. ^ Maurice Benayoun, The Dump, 207 Hypotheses for Committing Art, bilingual (English/French) Fyp éditions, France, July 2011, ISBN 978-2-916571-64-5
  3. ^ Stephen Wilson, Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology, MIT Press, 2002, p705. ISBN 0-262-73158-4
  4. ^ Lars Qvortrupp, Virtual Space: Spatiality in Virtual Inhabited 3d Worlds, Springer, 2002, p222. ISBN 1-85233-516-5
  5. ^ "BENAYOUN, Maurice | School of Creative Media".
  6. ^ "Artificial Intelligence, All Too Human". 29 August 2017.
  7. ^ Timothy Murray, Derrick de Kerckhove, Oliver Grau, Kristine Stiles, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Dominique Moulon, Jean-Pierre Balpe, Maurice Benayoun Open Art, Nouvelles éditions Scala, 2011, French version, ISBN 978-2-35988-046-5
  8. ^ Madsen, Kim H., Qvortrup, Lars. "Production Methods: Behind the Scenes of Virtual Inhabited 3D Worlds." Springer Science & Business Media, 6 Dec. 2012 (1st edition 2002) - pp. 53-54. ISBN 1447100638, 9781447100638

General sources[edit]

  • ADA, Archive of Digital Art, Missing Matter, [1]
  • FMX/09, Paris ACM SIGGRAPH, ZA Story, the Quarxs, God and the Devil,[2], 2009
  • Benayoun, M.,"A Nano-Leap for Mankind" in The Dump, 207 Hypotheses for Committing Art, bilingual (English/French) Fyp éditions, France, July 2011, pp. 349–351. ISBN 978-2-916571-64-5
  • Benayoun, M., [3], "Architecture reactive de la communication" (French), July 1998

Further reading[edit]

  • Maurice Benayoun, The Dump, 207 Hypotheses for Committing Art, bilingual (English/French) Fyp éditions, France, July 2011, ISBN 978-2-916571-64-5
  • Timothy Murray, Derrick de Kerckhove, Oliver Grau, Kristine Stiles, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Dominique Moulon, Jean-Pierre Balpe, Maurice Benayoun Open Art 1980 - 2010, Nouvelles éditions Scala, 2011, French version, ISBN 978-2-35988-046-5
  • Maurice Benayoun, Josef Bares, Urban Media Art Paradox: Critical Fusion vs Urban Cosmetics in What Urban Media Art Can Do: Why, When, Where and How, Susa Pop, Tanya Toft, editors, AVedition publisher, 2016, pp. 81–89, 450–453, ISBN 978-3899862553
  • Benayoun, M., The Nervous Breakdown of the Global Body, an Organic Model of the Connected World, in Proceedings of Futur en Seine 2009, ed. Cap Digital, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4466-7929-6.
  • Sara and Tom Pendergast, Contemporary Artists St James Press, 2001, pp. 155–158, ISBN 1-55862-407-4
  • Peter Weibel, Jeffrey Shaw, Future Cinema, MIT Press 2003, pp. 472,572-581, ISBN 0-262-69286-4
  • Oliver Grau, Virtual Art, from Illusion to Immersion, MIT Press 2004, pp. 237–240, ISBN 0-262-57223-0,
  • Frank Popper, From Technology to Virtual Art, MIT Press 2005, pp. 201–205, ISBN 0-262-16230-X
  • Derrick de Kerckhove, The Architecture of Intelligence, Birkhäuser 2005, pp. 40,48,51,73, ISBN 3-7643-6451-3
  • Gerfried Stocker and Christine Schöpf, Flesh Factor, Ars Electronica Festival 1997, Verlag Springer 1997, pp. 312–315
  • Fred Forest Art et Internet, Editions Cercle D'Art / Imaginaire Mode d'Emploi, pp. 61 – 63
  • Christine Buci-Glucksmann, "L’art à l’époque virtuel", in Frontières esthétiques de l’art, Arts 8, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004
  • Dominique Moulon, Conférence Report: Media Art in France, Un Point d'Actu, L'Art Numerique, p. 123
  • Barbara Robertson, Without Bounds in CGW volume 32 issue 4 April 2009
  • Dominique Moulon, Art Contemporain, Nouveaux Médias, Nouvelles éditions Scala, Paris 2011, ISBN 978-2-35988-038-0

External links[edit]