Lucien Bitaux



Astronomer's perception


Installation – Production Chroniques — Biennale des imaginaire numériques

Partner :
Le Fresnoy studio national des arts contemporains

Astronomer's perception is an unstable space, a kind of mechanical and speculative brain. It is a question of visualizing the elements that build our perception of the cosmos by taking as a starting point the mental space and the imagination of astronomers. Thus, from an image generator based on the model of the eye, the installation proposes an interpretation of the neuronal reactions to the night skies.

Different floating entities symbolize the role of ideas and stimuli that animate the cortex: lenses, prisms, transparent forms. These optical objects represent our cognitive and interpretative biases: placed in front of a source of light, a star, they alter the vision to provoke another one. The walls and the passers-by receive the images resulting from these optical objects: they are retinas.

The visuals that emerge from this cerebro-cosmic generator materialize the mental stereotypes that haunt our interpretations; the original star is deformed, adapted, bent, to the cerebral interpretations - our view is inscribed between the infinitely large and the infinitely small, between the cosmic beyond and the mental inside.

It is by placing ourselves behind the eye of the observer, by magnifying and imagining the mental mechanics when we contemplate the stars, that we ask how a small point on the black surface of the night can generate such a vast imagination. The cosmos is invented then infinitely far from the eyes, but also in the depths of the ideas.

Nadir – Picture Elements Explorer


Installation – Production Fresnoy, studio national des arts contemporains

Partnership :
• Eindhoven University of Technology, Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry SFD Lab. Stimuli-responsive Functional Materials & Devices Group, Michael Debije et Jeroen Sol
• École Centrale de Lille, Didier Burgnies

Credits :
Artistic supervision: Justine Émard and Melik Ohanian
Programming: Lukas Truniger and Claire Pollet
Construction support : Brice Nouguès
Technical support : Cyprien Quairiat and Julie Machin
Production: Barbara Merlier and Luc-Jérôme Bailleul
Pedagogical coordination: Éric Prigent

Thanks : François Bedhomme, François Bonenfant, Didier Burgnies, Pascal Buteaux, Sébastien Cabour, Michael Debije, Pauline Delaplace, Nathalie Delbard, Justine Émard, Olivier Gade, Julie Machin, Julien Maire, Lucie Ménard, Barbara Merlier, Brice Nouguès, Melik Ohanian, Olivier Perriquet, Claire Pollet, Éric Prigent, Pascale Pronnier, Cyprien Quairiat, Solène Secq, Jeroen Sol, Hadrien Tequi, Lukas Truniger, Jean-Philippe Uzan et toutes les personnes ayant suivi l’élaboration du projet.

Find the activity of the Nadir on this dedicated web page:

In L'Écriture des pierres, Roger Caillois suggests that to split a stone and reveal its heart is to access the primitive image of the cosmos and reveal a parallel universe*.

In order to perceive cosmic dimensions inaccessible to the eye, we dig the earth to extract a dust essential to digital photography: silicon. This semiconductor, massively used to manufacture the instruments of observatories and space telescopes, would come directly from stellar explosions, the supernovae**. A cycle is therefore formed between the particles we collect on Earth and the stars we want to see: we have to search the ground to find grains of stars that allow us to image suns.

The transformation of the universe itself into a place of mining resources engages a change of state of the cosmic stones. They gradually lose their status of quasi-imaginary objects to become industrial assets in the same way as earthly stones.

Nadir, Picture Elements Explorer, is an instrument, a quasi-camera, a kind of space probe. A composite rock is exploited to form images. The machine then tries to reveal the paradoxes that structure astronomical imagery; between celestial surrealities and the mineral materialities of space representations; between inevitable disproportionate extractions and a poetry of the elements that traces a path linking the earth's core and the cosmic diffuse background.

* Roger Caillois, L’Écriture des pierres, in La Lecture des pierres, Éditions Xavier Barral, p.315, édité en 2014, écrit en 1970.

**— NASA, Exploding Stars Make Key Ingredient in Sand, Glass, 16 novembre 2018 —

Atlas of artistic fields (premices)


Graphic compositions: collages, photographs Selection from a series of 15 "cartographies" made for the magazine Facette 7 "What freedom for the artist?", published by 50°Nord in April 2021.

Available for free at this link :

The first double page presents first of all a sort of glossary for the elements that will compose the maps, it is a small inventory of the objects used in my practice. And then, these elements are arranged, merged, superimposed, to form territories. They are organized in thoughts, in structured reflection, they draw geographies.

To think is to try, to operate, to transform, subject only to an experimental control in which only highly "worked" phenomena are involved, and which our apparatuses produce rather than record. […] When a model has succeeded in an order of problems, it tries it everywhere. The gradient is a net that one throws into the sea without knowing what it will bring back. Maurice Merleau Ponty, l’Œil et l’Esprit, 1960.

This carte blanche is a visual response to the questions raised by the theme of this year's Facette magazine. From the notions of artistic fields, zones of exploration, constraining structures, forms try to occupy playgrounds. These zones delimited by abstract borders only ask to be exceeded. But the presence of these lines makes the framework of these compositions transparent, these grids also become scaffoldings to which the forms hang. They are moreover nets which carry plastic objects. In an approach of schematization of the problems raised by the subject of the artistic freedom, these cards incarnate a taking back on the logic of my plastic production. It is the interaction between forms and their context of appearance which is represented here, it is the question of the conscious or unconscious constraints which frame the artistic fields. The bricolage, described by Levi-Strauss in La Pensée sauvage, allows a naive answer of these stakes of the artistic creation.

Wild images


Prints on textile, sculptures in glass, aluminum, optics and natural objects

Prints : 120×200 cm
Sculptures : various formats

Within the context of the artistic residency of transmission Transat, proposed by the Ateliers Medicis at the C.A.L.M.E in Briançon, Lucien Bitaux proposed to the children to experiment around the shadows, the reflections, the projections, the diffractions, the spectra and all the other optical principles which allow the emergence of surprising forms, of curious perception, called here the Wild Images.
Between arts and sciences, the project aims to initiate the 9 - 11 year olds to the principles of photography but especially to make them aware of the plastic and artistic qualities of their production. The non-control of the result surprises, challenges and makes them want to make discoveries within the photographs they produce.

At the same time, Lucien Bitaux has produced an installation for the library. This one proposes glass frames composed of ingredients to see: optics associated with minerals and plants. These sorts of still lifes respond to the suspended photographs made with these same tools. Without retouching or trickery, these Wild Images play with our human perception, which we sometimes believe to be absolute and irreplaceable.

Phenomenological images


Backlit tiles, engraved plastic plates engraved plastic plates, filters

33×22,5 cm

Phenomenological images are photographs engraved on plastic surfaces set in resonance. With these new images whose colors move according to the movement of the observer, the forms are born of the iridescence of the material.

The phenomenological images are declined in series, to form a set of matter-lights resulting from various mineral elements. The different visions that appear from this physical process raise the question of the minerality of the images.

The liminals, the metamorphosis
of the being in its vision


Production Le Fresnoy, studio national des arts contemporains

• Approximately 40 optical devices made of plastic, glass, steel
• Multiple prints of photographs made through these devices
• Systems of monstration of these photographs

The aim of this project is to represent what sees: the seer. A system of optics that show themselves in the images was therefore made. The photographs produced then testify to the shape of the transparent object that allowed them to be captured. Between a precarious reality and an imperious reality, these images insist on the relativity of the sight and the representations.

Entoptic optics

These optical instruments have been manufactured in order to appear in the images they capture. They have defects, aberrations, they are imperfect, because they do not disappear in the photographic result. They assert themselves as pieces of reality, just like the environment they allow to capture. Sometimes composed of pre-existing objects or completely fabricated, the optical modules can be associated and arranged endlessly to propose ever new ways of seeing. When these tools are used, they are mounted in front of the camera without its industrial lens. In the exhibition, these optics become sculptures that face the pictures they have produced.

Photographic experiments

These multiple light boxes invite us to see the captures made through entoptic optics with a new perspective. Trapped in transparent layers, the silver prints are superimposed on digital images that appear on a screen, in front of or behind them. The visuals are constantly modified by these digital changes and infinitely question what we see or what we have seen. As a result, a viewer standing in the middle of this slowly changing landscape will never see the same thing twice. Each light box tries something with the images: some will superimpose them, others will associate them with the movements of a video, others will use optical phenomena that allow to see the image differently... One of the experiments also consists in the random conception of descriptive sentences of these mobile photographic landscapes. Words are randomly selected in a long list and write little stories that give keys to enter in this visual work.

The large films

These large floating formats allow us to enter completely into some of the captures. These visions, between figuration and abstraction, present a reality that we doubt, but which nevertheless gives us tangible clues of a material presence with clear forms that take shape in the middle of luminous apparitions, optical distortions, reflections…

The toolbox


14 digital photographic prints
60×80 cm

Stones are scanned, on various colored backgrounds, to present them as tools. Indeed, I use them myself in most of my work. These portraits are a tribute to these minerals that appear in many projects.

Optical particles


10 digital photographic prints 30×40 cm

The optical particles are digital photograms of optical instruments and slides. The photographic device is thus reversed: a light illuminates the sensor, the shadow of the optic is projected on it. The optic is no longer used to see, it is seen.

The smallest vertigo


10 silver photographic prints, 3 prints on cotton

various formats

The smallest vertigo is a series of photographs of mountain landscapes without retouching. Through a prism, the eye of the camera goes crazy, the gaze is lost between skies and summits. A confusion is made between what is in front and what is behind, new horizons are drawn.

Anecdotal stars


For the cultural magazine Espace(s) published by the CNES (National Space Center), the project Anecdotal stars suggests a confusion between images on screen and printed images. Moreover, the project was published in a small book of 26 pages including all the visual experiments.



Structure in aluminium profiles, diffusers, neon lights, filters, thermoformed plastic surfaces, organic objects

from 130×31×20 to 250×68×25 cm

These large boards are a kind of sky, openings to a new transparency. By playing with the interferences present in these large plastic prints of organic materials, a new decor is created.

The installation is appearing in levitation in a dark space, thus, we are immersed in the resonances which become floating visions. A resonance turns and shows the process of projection, they are completed by their photogram.


2018 — 2019

15 analog prints

These kind of aurora borealis in Bézier curves are photographic traces of diffracted light. The infra-world presented in movement becomes hypnotizing. The shadows of the forms resulting from the infinitely small are recorded. These silver prints made directly by laser become bridges between the technological and the analogical worlds. They are hematoma of light.

Émilie du Châtelet Scoposcope


Machine in folded sheet metal without welding, motor, leds, lenses

100×100×30 cm

The Scoposcope Émilie du Châtelet allows a projection on three sides of plastic prints in rotation. The images of the transparent object come out of the machine.

René Descartes Scoposcope


Machine in folded sheet metal without welding, motor, leds, handmade gyroscope, frosted plexiglass

80×80×80 cm

The René Descartes Scoposcope projects thermo-formed prints. It develops the principle of the scoposcopy on three dimensions, by proposing a giroscopic movement, the volume of the print is broken up on three faces.

Maurice Merleau Ponty Scoposcope


Machine in folded sheet metal without welding, motors, leds, lasers, handmade gyroscope, frosted glass, lenses

120×60×100 cm

The Merleau-Ponty is a multi-functional scoposcope, offering a multitude of combinations to transmit the impressions captured. Always playing with movement and light, its modularity offers mobile visions of the world.

Interesting words


book, 20 pieces

A tiny book bound in random order creates hazardous sentences with subjects and verbs. These microscopic words manufacture thought and give ideas.

Obscura Filippo Brunelleschi


Aluminium profile machine, motor, lens, leds, mirror, turntable

60×30×35 cm

It is a machine to project objects live. The image is generated in the present, at the speed of light. The confusion between an object and its image no longer exists. The object has a relation to its image comparable to the one it would have to its shadow.



Laser beam on steel rods, lens on rods, engraved lenses on rods

variable dimensions

The lensoscope is an invented device composed of a laser, a blank lens and engraved lenses. Its objective is to record images on very small surfaces and to implant the image in the material. This laser/lens combination is then harmonized by the projection.

Black and white shadows


Black and white analog prints

various dimensions

The black and white shadows are photograms from thermoformed prints. They are photographic records of the projections of the plastic prints, a trace of the volume. Starting from the transparent, we reach contrasted and readable images.

Color shadows


Analog colored prints

various dimensions

The color shadows are color photograms of the thermoformed prints. They are recordings of the interferences present in the modeled plastic materials. From the transparency, interpretations of the objects are made.

Liminal Mission


photographed inkjet prints, 4 prints

various formats

Miniscule images are printed, they represent parts of the world: stars, seas, plants, minerals, eyes... Rephotographed, these images open up another dimension: the dimension of the image itself.



Sheets perforated with a laser cutter according to a customized dot pattern, diffusing PMMA sheets, leds

variable dimensions

Perforgamme is an invented image recording technique that includes the visual in the material, like a cut-out slide. By projection of these perforated images, a new materiality of what they represent appears, the light draws a spectrum.

Tactile charcoal


Coal, wires, arduino, projector

With Camille Astié at the PaTI school in South Korea, we designed a graphic experiment made from charcoal. We made pieces of coal that react to touch and trigger sounds and images telling a climatic story. Earthquakes, storms, rains... All these elements are cumulative and create a new environment.

Korea in photographs


series of digital photographs

Photographs taken in South Korea, from north to south, with the outside view of photographer Kim Hee Jung.



book, single edition

Illuigonie means "the imaginable but unverified origin of a thing", it is a made-up word. It is the title of this inventory, which includes a year of plastic research on 700 pages. This research feeds my productions and, sometimes, constitutes them.

E pur si mueve


Experimental map reading machine.

Developed with Camille Astié, Éléonore Geissler and Albane Monnier

Surrounding area


24 analog photographs

Houses in the evening, in a residential area in Nanterre, empty or lit, before returning to work.

Big details


20 drawings 35 by 50 cm

Great details from the mineral and vegetable worlds are transcribed in the form of prints-drawings.

Black hole mapping


Protoype of interractive cartography symbolizing the gravitational field of black holes. Small leds, imaging stars, fade away when approaching the center of the map.
Project realized in partnership with Camille Astié.

What is chaos?


This small experimental editorial work aims to search for the stereotyped image of chaos. Different people have been asked about the color, the texture, the shape and the density of chaos. Each answer is transcribed on a transparent card and can be confused with the other visual elements expressed: an image of chaos is built.


Curriculum Vitæ


Graduated from Ensad, Lucien Bitaux invented Scoposcopy, a discipline that aims to represent imperceptible dimensions. He continued his work on the visible during his residency at the Cité internationale des Arts and at the Fresnoy, national studio of contemporary arts in Tourcoing. He then realized the project "Les Liminaux, metamorphosis of the being in its vision". Naively, he seeks other ways to capture and show reality. This experimental approach is based on the manufacture of his own instruments. Photography, optical capture and light projection are his favorite mediums.Today, he is beginning a thesis in artistic creation entitled "Explorative imagery - a relation between astronomical visualizations and experimental photographic practices", co-directed by Nathalie Delbard and Melik Ohanian in partnership with the Fresnoy and the University of Lille in France. He has exhibited in several places, such as La Générale or La Villette.
Explorative imagery -
a relation between astronomical visualizations
and experimental photographic practices

Starting with the observation of the formal similarities between astronomical visualizations and certain contemporary experimental photographic practices, this thesis explores the ways of seeing and perceiving contained in what we propose to call “explorative imagery”. These, inscribed in the distinct domains of science and art, converge by their processes of fabrication. Symmetry, not to say reversibility, settles down between the two disciplines: the question of defining the common field is engaged by this thesis. Rooted in art or in science, the imageries called as explorative appear following an act of visualization: the forms composing them are not completely controlled or known in advance. In this sense, astronomy as well as experimental photography discover images that are properly speaking discoveries.
Relying on the notions of habitability, palpability and minerality of images, this doctorate in artistic creation interrogates the processes of appearance of incommensurabilities. From these conversions into visibilities, a paradox appears, lodged between the finitude of images that fit in one hand, and the infinity of the macroscopic and microscopic scales they represent. Such visualizations allow us to explore forms or elements without having seen them. In other words, they appear while making appear. This ambivalence structures the work of the thesis both in its written part and in the plastic project. The artistic installation that surrounds the theoretical research aims to manipulate and produce such imagery based on the model of the astronomical observatory, displaced to the field of creation. Thus, the study is inscribed at the crossroads of arts, sciences and phenomenology to take a step back on the representativeness of the images of the imperceptible dimensions, on their relation to objectivity, and especially on their interaction with the act of seeing itself.

Thesis presentation in French