Black is Black

Engaging museum visitors differently


BLACK IS BLACK


Organized jointly by the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art (FGA)and the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the exhibition Noir, c’est noir? The Outrenoirs of Pierre Soulages features a strong experimental character.

The curatorial project here does not fall within the confines of a traditional exhibition in a conventional setting, but rather integrates the specificities of a new building on a university campus — creating the conditions for an innovative convergence of art and science. Together with the FGA, the EPFL+ECAL Lab and four other EPFL laboratories alongside startups originating from the school put their research and technologies at the service of an original approach to the Pierre Soulages work.
So, The EPFL+ECAL Lab has presented 2 projects:
At first, as part of a comprehensive study into the uses of virtual reality, Into the Black offers a unique and sensory way of engaging with curatorial content.
Then, Color in the Black, in featuring a unique collection of different colors of light that animates an Outrenoir, a device creates a striking and evocative contrast that enables the public to approach the works entirely without artifice.
underoneroof8underoneroof8

Picture by Corinne Cuendet for CCHE


INTO THE BLACK


The strength of an art exhibition usually comes from the conjunction between the artworks and the curatorial vision. This vision enlightens the works in a new way and sets them in a specific context to induce unique perceptions and meanings.

Observations in many museums show that a wide range of museum audiences miss these conjunctions. So, how can we reinforce the understanding of the curatorial vision? How can we move it beyond words to express it in an emotional, sensitive dimension? How can we induce stronger relationships between the visitors and the artworks themselves? 
As an introduction to Pierre Soulages exhibition “Noir, c’est Noir?” the EPFL+ECAL Lab invites the public to engage with the content through an interactive and immersive experience. A short scenario, based on three major quotes from the artist, expresses key elements of the paintings: matter, light and light as matter. The installation explores how VR can do more than spectacular 3d scenery to enhance understanding and perception. In other words, to communicate meaningful content related to real objects in the physical world. Previous research has shown that the device design plays an important role: we choose to focus on freedom—there is no need to attach a head-mounted device. The concept is inspired by public binoculars to view panoramas. Simultaneously, we defined interaction, narratives and visual principles to create an immersive and virtual world to offer a unique and sensory way of engaging with curatorial content and real artwork.


PICTURES



VIDEO



INTO THE BLACK: CREDITS


Direction
Nicolas Henchoz

Lead Designer & Project Management
Tommaso Colombo

Interaction Designer
Marius Aeberli

Assistant Designer
Joëlle Aeschlimann

Lead Engineer
Delphine Ribbs

Engineer
Yves Kalberer

Lead Product designer & Scenography
Nicolas Le Moigne


COLORS IN THE BLACK


Simply black? No! The famous Outrenoirs paintings of Pierre Soulages send us a rich experience of light.

To help visitors to perceive this richness, EPFL+ECAL Lab has created an interactive installation showing the light coming from one Outrenoir, color by color, from red to violet. Data has been captured and analyzed thanks to a partnership with Gamaya, a startup company based at EPFL and the Signal Processing Lab 5. EPFL+ECAL Lab has explored how to transform the data into an informative, but also sensitive and emotional expression. The interactive installation plays with a visualization of energy, interaction with materiality, and the light variation according to the visitors’ positioning—all in order to create a new relationship with Soulages’ paintings. The concept includes a specific sequence for the visitors’ experience: first the digital installation that stimulates perception and expectation, and then the painting itself, without any distraction. With quantitative tests the lab thoroughly studied user impact with different configurations. By featuring a unique collection of different colors of light that animates an Outrenoir, this device creates a striking and evocative contrast that enables the public to approach the works without artifice.


PICTURES



VIDEO



COLORS IN BLACK: CREDITS


Direction
Nicolas Henchoz

Lead Designer & Scenography
Joëlle Aeschlimann

Lead Engineer & developer
Delphine Ribbs

Project Management
Tommaso Colombo

Partner: Gamaya
Luca Baldassarre, Manuel Cubero-Castan

Signal Processing Laboratory LTS5 
Jean-Philippe Thiran

Egli Studio 
Yann Mathys, Thibault Dussex

Atelier Héritier, Geneva 
Pierre-Antoine Héritier, Conservator-Restorer