Cinématique (Kinematics): Living Visual Art…

At the edge of circus, dance and digital art, the Cinématique play by Adrien Mondot defines the principles of living visual art created by its designer. The successful live show is currently nearing 140 performances.

Both a stage and digital performance, the Cinématique play written and performed by Adrien Mondot, a juggler and  computer engineer - better known as Adrien M, is probably one of the best current examples of a multidisciplinary and multimedia production, where interaction between motion games inherited from live shows and coupled devices camera/computer program is the most sensitive.

The technological and emotional content is displayed on stage through a succession of moving virtual landscapes, linking a projected video mapping scenography shaped as an immersive 3D mesh, but also stunning audiovisual magic tricks (letters arising from lanterns) with a variety of sketches inspired by dance and circus performed by a dancer and Adrien Mondot himself.

The idea of Cinématique was born during Lab n° 3, Adrien Mondot explains. Labs are times of research where I invite people to come and work with me. So, in Cinématique I somehow included all of my research from the past five years. In my career in aesthetics and technology, this has been a seminal project, in the sense that it started tackling a new language. One moves a little further away from juggling to reach a language that I call living visual arts. It was thus the first play that used eMotion.


eMotion abstraction

The eMotion software is a tool to choreograph virtual objects giving the illusion of a natural movement. Since Cinématique, it has been the basis of Adrien M's creations, whether it be for shows or installations as is shown by the Paysages Abstraits (Abstract Landscapes) series, jointly conceived with the visual artist/set designer Claire Bardainne, who Adrien M. now works with.

The dozen independent plays with such ambivalent titles as Nuées Mouvantes, Anamorphose Temporelle (moving clouds, Temporal Anamorphosis) or Organismes Typographiques (Typographical bodies), perfectly reflect this, the recurring articulation between the human part represented by the physical presence of the performers on stage - or the spectators in contact with interactive installations - and the more technological, digital part, of  devices keeping some cold aesthetics.

Les Paysages Abstraits are therefore part of a continuum of kinematics. Installations enable us to tackle the works developed through our live shows from another angle says Adrien M. We chose not to set time or space limits for our projects. Unlike in our shows, here the public moves across the sets. Often after live performances, people ask: "How does it work? We would like to try." installations are part of the answer we wanted to give them.


Digital Polyphony

The downside is that this approach requires an even longer preparation time. For Cinématique, there were about six months of work, including three months on stage, says Adrien Mondot. Some venues helped us, old partner theatres, like the Theatre Hexagone, Meylan (National Theatre) where I was an associate for three years, The Subsistances in Lyon, Ars numerica in Montbeliard, the DICREAM. The specificity is that for two weeks of residence on stage, there are basically two weeks of computer preparation work. The software significantly evolves during the design of this kind of shows.

It's like a polyphony: A score of the body on stage, the music, a score for the moving images and the lights and we need all these elements to be there simultaneously during the construction process. The success of the play has largely paid back for these efforts. Especially after getting the Grand Jury Prize in the international Dance and New Technologies competition, organised by the Bains Numériques festival in Enghien-les-Bains in June 2009.

At first, it made its distribution easier, Adrien M. admits. We work  in a very conventional manner, like most companies. For each play, we have a set of co-producers, who believed enough in the project to put money into it and enable it. They are the ones who book the show in the season following its creation. Then we hope enough people who saw the first live season to embark on the following ones. Cinématique has done very well since we are not far from one hundred and forty performances, nevertheless knowing that we will not do more than 200! The show will have had a good life, touring for three or four years.

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Laurent Catala