Home Cinema: adjustable audiovisual material for hyper-spectator

Nowadays digital arts integrate more and more new consumption models of spectators that are at the same time the users of new technological tools that spread within audiovisual creation, through their smartphone or home computer. Is now the spectator becoming the real actor of his own cinema? And, broadly speaking, are now the cinema and image work transforming themselves into an adjustable audiovisual material given over the plays of manipulation and interaction of a “hyper-spectator” by artists looking for more intimacy? A bunch of interesting questions that are brought out by Home Cinema exhibition currently shown at Maison des Arts de Créteil within EXIT festival. 

When looking at the triptych Memory of Laure Milena and Raphael Elig, it is hard not to feel the captivating and strange link that gets through the connection between collected images, often very personal, of these amateur movies whose shooting spreads from 1950 and 2010, and the very abstract manipulation of these same images provided by the use of a connected interactive tablet that rhythms their sequencing, that changes their contrasts, their outlines and treats electronically their sound elements. In the wake of experimental diary films’ techniques of Jonas Mekas for instance, the live processing of audiovisual material seems to relate here with a mix of personal intimacy, touching the spectator at the uppermost point, and ergonomic digital technology, offering him a new approach of this same material.

In maze-like and youngster packed corridors of Maison des Arts de Créteil, always propitious for playful and collective experimentations, several other installations presented within Home Cinema exhibition curated by art commissioner Charles Carcopino for EXIT festival, share this same hybrid feeling, expressing a new vision of a cinema in which sensitivity, memorial or intimate, and more prosaic technology surround a large array of artistic propositions around animated images and film material. 

Lauren MOFFATT > "The unbinding" from Le Fresnoy 

The fragments of archived images, true surrealistic collages with cubist effects that reveals the movie The Unbiding by Lauren Moffatt, express on a very allegoric sense the way technology interferes with our physical appearance and daily life. Theses interferences are not always looking that worrying. Sweatshoppe’s Videopainting releases on a big wall the pictured representation of your face shot from a photo booth thanks to an intelligent scrubbing brush. Jung Yeondoo’s Drive-In Theater invites the spectators to penetrate cinematographic universe by taking the wheel of a still car where blurred urban images looking like movie background are shown on the window side while being filmed and broadcasted on a big screen at the same time.

Drive-in-theater - Jung Yeondoo from Le Studio MAC Créteil 

Manipulation and critical diversion

Principle of manipulation – physical as much as symbolic – is anyway the common thread mostly retained by artists in this new manifestation of a cinema for participating “hyper-spectator”, even if it can sometimes take shape of abstract frequencies sculptures (acrylic sheets reflecting light signals of Nicolas Bernier’s Frequencies Light Quanta) or generative movies like for Emilie Brout and Maxime Marion’s Dérives, where water-related movies excerpts are automatically cut by the machine system according to preselected dramatic table. Realised by the same artists, the piece Hold-On allows the spectator to play and change action scenes of some cult movies with a real joystick inspired by arcade games such as Streetfighter. Perfect to choreograph in new directions John Travolta’s swaying moves or Bruce Lee exhilarating fights!

Stressing out a more refined approach, Thierry Fournier’s Dépli gives tactile keys to the spectator to merge filed sequences with a high-level interactive iPad program – you can even play the sound backwards! – when Guillaume Faure’s Soma tiny interactive projection booth modulates weird movie takes (forests walk, insects dance) depending on spectator emotions thanks to real-time sensitive captors, analysing sweat, temperature or heart beats, and placed under right hand’s palm and fingers. 

Created on iPad the app Dépli offers a new way to experience cinema and allows to recreates infinite paths in the movie by selecting and mixing plans, direction, and speed. © JBLuneau

Going deeply, some installations underline surveillance principles that rise from all this: from peer-to-peer streaming flux hacked live by Nicolas Maigret’s The Pirate Cinema to biometric detection robotic exercises created by Marnix de Nijs for 15 Minutes of Biometric Fame, passing through the more poetic expression of Bertrand Planes Blue Screens wall, superimposing images of clouds taken on web CCTV around the world and filed geometric shapes looking in accordance with.

The installation Peer to Peer relies on a system that automatically downloads the most viewed torrents. Intercepted data are immediately projected on a screen, and then erased. © JBLuneau

If Home Cinema artists do not hesitate to make you quake - like the throbbing shuffle of the dinosaur appearing in Bernard Szajner Immateriality #5 mirror – this poetic, even delicate, orientation is not put aside. It emerges also from 3D printed stereo-lithographic figurines - then projected like a very lo-fi animated film - of Julien Maire’s Form Fiction, from reels of embroidered portraits of Evangelia Kranioti’s Antidote, or from high powered LEDs columns facing the projection wall of Jim Campbell’s Home Movies, where displayed found footage films find an intriguing spectral aura.

Formal Fiction est un film imprimé en stéréolithographie : chacune des images, décors , acteurs du film  imprimés en 3D dans une résine transparente et directement projetées grâce à un projecteur adapté.  © JBLuneau

Immersion into audiovisual material

The other process mostly used by Home Cinema artists to suggest this growing connection of the spectator with living audiovisual material is the one of immersion. Minimalist in the digital architects Lab[au]’s approach -whose new version of their device Particle Synthesis reveals itself less massive than before, looking like a circular multi-screens synthesizer flush with the ground -, this immersion target applies a magnetic fascination in Etienne Rey’s Space Oddyssey, more psychic and kinetic extension of its previous work, Tropique – here reinforced with vivid colours, more sensorial elastic light variations and with an outstanding soundtrack by electro-acoustic composer Wilfried Wendling.

Between immaterial sculpture and architecture, the installation Space Odyssey  immerses the audience in the heart of a light beam to locate it in a place where references become mobile. © JBLuneau

Ultimate stage of this immersive commitment, several creations of immersive cinema – viewable with the help of long-awaited stereoscopic-3D-view glasses Oculus Rift – share the bill in a kind of foreshadowing of what might be the “augmented” cinema of tomorrow (but for sure of what will be the video game platforms to come soon). In this category, the room for improvement still looks big as most of the presented pieces do not show a terrific aesthetic and interactive rendering – in spite of the pleasant childish and playful graphics of Vincent Morrisset’s Jusqu’ici, or the choreographic and technical virtuosity of Blanca Li’s 360° -, nor a added value to previously known’s artists work – the Joanie Lemercier movie draws heavily on light-mapping landscapes from its famous Eyajafjallajokull installation but with less impact.

© JBLuneau

As a matter of fact, this is overall the dense and whimsical graphic universe created by Balthazar Auxiètre for its Le Cinquième Sommeil that hits the nail on the head, even if its previous version, more oriented towards virtual self-shifting into this fantasized organism (a version presented at Issy-Les-Moulineaux’s Le Cube for Nemo festival 2013) was still more exciting. It shows indeed a highly prospective approach that invites to keep its own eyes and ears wide open to follow the upcoming developments of this “inner cinema” of a future to come sooner than expected.

Laurent Catala

Maison des Arts de Créteil
From March 26th to April 5th


Some photos on our Flickr

> Watch and Listen <

Hold on & Dérives - Émilie Brout & Maxime Marion from Le Studio MAC Créteil 


Space Odyssey - Etienne Rey & Wilfried Wendling from Le Studio MAC Créteil 

The Fifth Sleep - Trailer from Balthazar Auxietre