Paris First

By Craig McIntyre,

With the recent launch of the new digital art centre, Atelier des Lumières in the 11ème arrondissement of Paris, we were excited to visit the venue for their inaugural exhibition. Set in a former iron foundry from the 19th century, the building itself has been revalued to its original steel skeleton. Utilising its open space and unique character, the addition of over 120 video-projectors transforms the room into an ambient canvas that plunges visitors into a new world of dynamic light, colour and sound. 

Combining motion and music using digital technology and artificial intelligence, paintings are propelled across walls, ceiling and flooring. Engulfing the audience; it allows them to experience traditional works from a different perspective than previously possible. It unlocks a new relevance that connects traditional skills and the digital age with exciting fluidity. 

Although the continued application of digital and AI in varying disciplines is often questioned, it is undeniable that without it, we wouldn’t get the chance to experience and appreciate developments like these. This exhibition captures an emotive experience in an hour-long video projection and mapping installation of large-scale visual frescoes of Gustav Klimt’s work. 

Klimt and the artists who drew inspiration from him (the “Vienna Succession”: 1892–1906) often used architecture as a means to express their art and as a way to grow their audience by bringing their art to community spaces. The exhibition recreates the pictorial intricacy of Klimt work and it is interesting that contemporary media like mapping creates a means of showcasing pieces that can’t be moved from Vienna.

The work of Hunderwasser, who was highly influenced by the Vienna Succession is also projected and accompanied by the music of Luca Longobardi. Every sense is engaged and the visitor not only views the art but becomes part of it. The scale and grandeur of the projections allows us to see in more detail, the techniques of the artist and his inspiration. The clever use of mirrors and water within the venue creates reflections and bounces playful patterns across the space furthering the dynamic value of the installation.

The use of AI adds to the agility of this project. On occasion, the vibrations of the score playing in the background informs the movements of the projections creating a seamless world for the audience to venture into. The use of new technologies don’t detract from the original beauty of Klimt’s art, but instead realises its agility in a modern setting; handling his works sympathetically creates something delicate, dynamic and alive.

In a very different way, but with similar values, the studio Ouchhh propose ‘Poetic — AI’ to transport us to a monotone, graphic universe. Using AI in the initial creative stages, the forms of light and movement viewed by each audience is completely unique, derived using an algorithm to inform the shapes and rhythm. The absence of colour and the sudden burst of bright light on concrete and steel is powerful. The effect is emotional, poetic and surreal. Like seeing a band play live, there is a joint swell of feeling within the crowd that happens when a moving experience is shared. 

The experience confronts the audience by its all encompassing and emotional impact. Transporting us into an exciting, innovative world between 2D and 3D our senses are met with compelling authority. The Atelier des Lumières offers a new exciting way to experience art. We cant wait to see what other innovative installations and events showcase over the coming months. If anything like this one, they will be all consuming, thought provoking and full of life.