Put on a helmet and parachute into the 17th century, on the deck of Mayflower – this mythical three-masted ship that British Christians embarked on, on their way to the New World, to establish the first European colony there in 1620. A journey through history that the people of Geneva could experience at the International Museum of Reform last year. With, at the helm, a very local actor: Artanim, a name that resonates at the end of the lake, but also outside. This research center is truly one of the world’s pioneers in virtual reality, a know-how from which it particularly benefits artistic circles, and transports culture to unimaginable dimensions.
Just look up to see them, on the walls of Artanim’s offices in Meyrin: silhouettes photographed in tight-fitting jumpsuits, lined with reflective pearls. The spot of infrared cameras allows these markers to record and reproduce the individual’s movements in real time. “The kind of technology used in animated films, Tintin on Avatar», Specifies the co-founder of Artanim Caecilia Charbonnier.
Far from James Cameron’s blue humanoids, it is the bones and cartilages that this researcher first examines – to capture the movements of the dancers from the Ballet du Grand Théâtre to his specialty to better understand their early osteoarthritis of the hip. In 2011, when Caecila Charbonnier realized the potential of this still in her budding technique, she launched Artanim with Sylvain Chagué and Clémentine Lo, respectively, from engineering and 3D computer graphics. The purpose of this non-profit fund: research, especially for the medical community, but also technological sharing. “Motion capture tools are expensive and generally reserved for research or gait analysis laboratories in medicine,” notes Caecilia Charbonnier. We wanted to introduce them to other players and imagine new uses together. “
James Fazy and the Galactic Zoo
An invention, as taken from a book by Philip K. Dick, will inspire the team: the virtual reality headset, which will hit the market in 2015. Combined with Artanim’s motion capture, it opens up possibilities. Materials especially your own body in an imaginary world, in the form of an avatar, but also to meet others and even to “shake their hand!”. An unprecedented 4.0 immersion concept, presented at the Cannes Film Festival and at Sundance, which instantly captured the entertainment industry.entertainment – and makes Hollywood’s eyes shine. From Warner Bros. studios to the giant MGM via Steven Spielberg himself, many will invest in this “medium that allows you to be not only a spectator but also an actor in your experience,” launches Caecilia Charbonnier.
By walking, for example (in a carriage) in the town of Calvin at the time of the Fazy Revolution. Produced by Artanim and the Museum of Art and History of the City of Geneva in 2019 from the Magnin Relief, a famous model of the city, and a long work of screenwriting, the experience Geneva 1850 fascinates – and Maison Tavel, who hosts it, is always full. “New technologies are a great way to attract a younger audience to museums that strive to innovate,” says Caecilia Charbonnier.
It’s this kind of leap into the past, but not only, that Dreamscape Immersive, Artanim’s sister start-up specializing in virtual adventure design, offers. Half cinemas, half leisure parks, the centers opened by Dreamscape Immersive in Los Angeles (where the headquarters are located), Dallas or Dubai provide the opportunity to immerse up to eight people in the world of Men in blackcartoon Pull on (on which you fly without taking off from your seat) or a rum zoo like Jurassic Park. Each time, the experiences mix virtual and atmospheric elements, such as a vibrating floor or this army of fans that we discover in the adjoining space. Enough to blow gusts of wind – and mimic the movement, to avoid disturbing the participants’ inner ear.
the dance of the giants
Experiences that isolate, each under its own black mask? On the contrary, they offer a momentary sharing in a single room and take people out of their homes, argues Caecilia Charbonnier. As VR_Ia piece produced in 2017 and the result of a collaboration between Artanim, Gilles Jobin and his company, where five spectators found themselves drawing dance steps at the same time … together with giants.
Internationally awarded, VR_I embodies these fruitful hybridizations between culture and the virtual that are multiplying today. “Artists strive to explore other horizons, and researchers need artists to take their technology in directions they would not have thought of,” smiles Caecilia Charbonnier, always looking for new projects. Why not on the side of Geneva, where we, who knows, could soon venture out into some imaginary worlds …