Métiers d'Art

Out of This World

6 min read
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In celebration of the Stellar Odyssey touring exhibition and events series, Jaeger-Le Coultre has collaborated with artist Guillaume Marmin to commission a work that embodies the dynamic connection between history, time and space.

Words by Katherine Volk

Ever since humans first tried to measure time, we have looked to the stars and celestial bodies for guidance, from the lunar calendars of the Middle East to ancient sundials designed to track the hours of the day. Celebrating the link to the cosmos, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s theme for its annual highlight exhibition is Stellar Odyssey, which details complex and meticulously crafted timepieces and the cosmic connection that resonates through them.

Over the years, Jaeger-LeCoultre has collaborated with creative minds such as pastry chef Nina Metayer and artists Zimoun and Michael Murphy. “Between the artistic world and Jaeger-LeCoultre, there is an organic bond in terms of the exploration of creativity and the respect for crafts,” explains Catherine Rénier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre. “We look for artistic collaborations that are based on authenticity and shared values of precision and innovation, combined with unique know-how and with nature at its core. We make sure all the artists come to our Atelier d’Antoine in the Vallée de Joux to meet our artisans. They always find a connection with their work, the tools they use and the passion they have.”

To commemorate the relationship between watchmaking, astronomy and the history of measuring time, Jaeger-LeCoultre has worked with mixologist Matthias Giroud and visual artist Guillaume Marmin. Rénier delights in sharing the importance of these artistic collaborations: “In the past few years, we have invited a series of renowned artists and craft enthusiasts to collaborate with us with the idea of bringing the unique experiences of Jaeger-LeCoultre to the general public around the world through our exhibitions. It allows us to expand our horizons and express ourselves through new media that generate emotions, cultivate curiosity and enlarge the dialogue that exists between horology and art.”

This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s collaboration with Marmin saw the unveiling of his installation Passengers: Through Time On a tour of the atelier, the artist was inspired by the accuracy of the watch mechanisms. “It’s actually quite amazing to see how complex it is to assemble such small pieces,” he shared. The circular actions of the mechanisms are obvious metaphors for the cycles of the solar system. These movements were a major inspiration for me when designing the installation’s audio and visual components. The specially commissioned Passengers: Through Time is the second chapter of Marmin’s iconic Installation Passe and, as Renler notes, ‘is a significant element in our new Stellar Odyssey exhibition, a nomadic show that brings together our creativity, artistic partnerships and heritage in ways that are immersive and educational

Marmin’s Installation takes the form of a mirrored structure that welcomes the public to walk through it. As participants make their way through the capsule, they are transported to a place where time, light and space meet, as described by the theory of relativity. Lights and sounds change continuously, according to astrological data and the installation’s geographical coordinates. ‘I consulted an astrophysicist [from the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble) to see what sort of data we would use to generate the installation’s content explains Marmin. “That’s how the time of day, the day-night continuum and the moon phases wound up directly influencing the audio and visuals used in the installation This project is the result of a partnership between art, science and industry, with the ensuing work of art a product of technological expertise, scientific observation and artistic interpretation. The astronomical data go beyond a purely symbolic link in the sense that they are also at the core of JaegerLeCoultre’s DNA, appearing in many of the Maison’s creations, including the perpetual calendars, sky charts and lunar cycles displayed on the complex faces of timepieces.

Marmin’s work not only links time, space and the human history of measuring the cosmos, but also immerses the public in a passage through time and space and a contemplation of our complex relationship to the universe. “The fascinating factor about his artwork is that each member of the public will react to it differently, it is a unique experience in the literal sense, notes Rénier. “The content of the artwork evolves in alignment with the solar calendar and the location each exhibition site, expressing celestial phenomena in real-time.” In much the same way as time is fused through life, art and culture are linked to Jaeger-LeCoultre through the meticulous craftsmanship and technological ingenuity that embody the Maison’s creative spirit. Rénier affirms that “We will continue in that direction, exploring new forms of expression that resonate with our Maison, including an upcoming partnership with Reverso that will be unveiled by the end of this year. Passengers: Through Time will travel to various global destinations as an integral part of the Stellar Odyssey exhibition, which will be presented In Belling and then in Dubai.”

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