Le Crassier (Slag Heap)

crassier (slag heap) : heap of waste, slag, as a by-product of coal mining.
Can also refer to the waste by-product from a foundry or furnace, formed into such a mound.


On the occasion of the Open Source exhibition, Gaspard and Sandra Bebie have produced a new installation: Le Crassier (slag heap) – an extension of Viridis, the spirulina farm – a long-term project, sprawling, which revolves around a spirulina farm located in the Cevennes and connected to a community videogame. The project started in mid-June 2014 brought together more than 2,000 players an active approach and created more than 75,000 viewings.

It is these players through the game, who decided to take actions on the farm and invested on objects or their actions essential to the development of the farm and thus access to optimized spirulina production. The actual farm, equipped with sensors, offered a global overview on the state of culture. Electrical conductivity, pH, temperature, sunlight, turbidity, salinity, humidity in the greenhouse, density, color and odors were being updated daily and allowed players to take the good decisions. The farmers established on the real farm had to apply the community decisions and, also, through a chatroom, they could interact withit by providing advices and feedbacks.

Thus, through the game, the community contributed and acted as a direct adviser. Now, and after a full season conducted with the farmers, the farm has been placed into hibernation. And, even if Viridis is mainly acting on the internet, the artists have decided  to deploy and extend the project with several installations outside the net.

The installation

It is a set of modules/systems which has been developed. Thus, we’ve seen the Viridarium, a set of bioreactors for the indoor spirulina culture. As for Open Source exhibition, it is an experimental laboratory which has been created (curated by COAL).

The laboratory… Referring to this definition of the philosopher Bruno Latour: ” le laboratoire, c’est le faire faire, c’est le faire exister, c’est-à-dire la réplication, la redondance, le rebondissement de l’action par l’artiste (ou par le chercheur) et le recueil de l’œuvre (ou l’autonomie du fait)” (the laboratory is  the  doing of making [le  faire faire ], the  making exist, or  in other words the replication and  redundancy. It is the artist (or researcher) bouncing off the action and the reception of the work (or the autonomy of the fact)). Thus, Le Crassier, this new installation of Gaspard and Sandra Valérian reveals a space both wild and tinkered, combining animism and science, an open place where are synthesized, brewed, ground alternative inputs for the spirulina culture.

Within this atypical bric-a-brac, within this survival factory,  you find iron syrup, phosphoric acid, caustic ashes, bone powder, a sum of alternative and organic agronomical inputs. Because, even if Viridis is a gaming experience, immersive and aesthetic, it is also didactic and offers its players the ability to assimilate all the steps and basics to the production of spirulina. The knowledge accumulated throughout the experience of Viridis is implemented and made public in a spirit of sharing and spreading.