Interactive virtual tunnel connects the world at CityU

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The open media art installation of French new media artist Professor Maurice Benayoun, who joined the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) as Professor in August 2012, will feature at an exhibition at CityU’s Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre (CMC) on 20 September 2012.

This fascinating virtual tunnel, titled Tunnels around the World, marks Professor Benayoun’s debut in Hong Kong. He will “dig” a tunnel at the CMC at the opening reception for the project at 7:00pm on 20 September at CMC. In the work, innovative technologies will be controlled by the user's natural serendipity in order to show art pieces from the original cities, connecting people from San Jose, Seoul and Montreal. A bladeless fan creates the wind that spreads the artist’s White Cube fragrance, reflecting “the essence of contemporary art”. In the Tunnels, you can explore the cultural and emotional distance which, beyond the geographical distance, brings people together or drives them apart. The exhibition is an on-going project that new cities will join later.

In 1995, before the internet was commonplace and video chatting a daily routine, The Tunnel under the Atlantic by Professor Benayoun invited participants in the Musee dart contemporain, Montreal and Centre Pompidou, Paris to communicate with one another after “digging” a virtual tunnel through cultural material. Now, in 2012, the expanded interactive installation Tunnels around the World (2012) invites people from different cultures to use their bodies and “dig” virtual tunnels based on their own interests for art and culture.

The School of Creative Media at CityU is connected to two biennials, in San Jose (ZERO1) and Seoul (MEDIACITY 2012, Museum of Art), and also to Montreal (SAT) and soon to New York City and France. The material to “dig” through is made up of images of art, combining collections from the French Reunion des Musées Nationaux and archive images from each participating institution that will telematically connect to live participants at the other end of the tunnel. 

The dynamic sound and music of Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Professor Benayoun’s long-term collaborator, combine cultural mixing with individual physical and spiritual experience.

Tunnels is a continuously evolving project originating from innovative technologies such as the eGonomy “maieutic engine”, which dynamically displays visual content according to the user's natural serendipity. This technology is inspired by the original Tunnel under the Atlantic, named “Gadevu”, that helped people find themselves (Gnothi Seauton) before finding each other. Later, voice-recognition software (Nuance Communications, Inc.) will influence the emergence of the images using keywords caught from the diggers’ dialogue. 

Professor Maurice Benayoun, aka MoBen, is a pioneering new media artist and theorist. His work and research investigate the philosophical and social mutations of the contemporary world through various media, from video to virtual reality, Web to wireless art, public space and large-scale art installations to interactive exhibitions.

His award-winning work has been exhibited at international museums and events, including Tunnel under the Atlantic (Centre Pompidu 1995), World Skin, a Photo Safari in the Land of War (Golden Nica, Ars Electronica 1998), and WAR / PEACE, a permanent installation inside the Arc de Triomphe in Paris that aims to convert the tribute to Napoleon’s army into a monument to peace.

Professor Benayoun is the co-founder and art director of the CITU research center (Création Interactive Transdisciplinaire Universitaire) at Universités Paris 1 and Paris 8. He taught new media art at the Université de Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne), and he was Assistant Professor at the University of Paris 8. (

The opening hours of the exhibition will be from Monday to Friday, 11:00am to 8:00pm. The end date for the exhibition will be announced later.

Notes to editors:

Please download photos of artist’s work at the following link:

Media enquiries: Bobo Lee, School of Creative Media (Tel: 3442 4616 or 6083 6604) /
Karen Cheng, Communications and Public Relations Office (Tel: 3442 6805 or 9201 8895)​ 



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