Anish Kapoor’s masterpiece, Leviathan, which was installed in the Grand Palais as the 2011 installment of the wonderful Monumenta series, is a beautiful example of an immersive environment.
The pure geometry of Leviathan’s shape has the appearance of a virtual object, and I’m guessing that Leviathan started out as a 3D model. Indeed Leviathan is the kind of environment that could be easily recreated as a virtual space, if only to let those far away partake of a little bit of the experience.
Properties that could be borrowed for immersive virtual worlds are scale, rounded geometry and, perhaps most distinctive, the utter difference between inside and outside.
Indeed part of the brilliance of Leviathan is that its inside and outside are incommensurable. It is impossible to guess the inside from the outside, and vice versa. The daylit strollers cannot see the viewers swallowed inside the whale’s red stomach, like so many Jonahs waving their cameras.
Outside, Kapoor’s dark Leviathan is so enormous that you cannot see the entire thing, evoking the Indian story of the elephant and the blind men. Like them we assemble the work in our head, by stitching together the three spheres, inside and out. The commissioner’s apt description is that the Grand Palais is “pregnant”.
All photos by Benjamin Bergery
On August 4th 2011, we had a great recording session at an improvised studio in a vacation house in Sainte Maxime. Luc Martinez brought his microphones and came with two wonderful actresses: 13-year-old Louise Guillomet and her mother Cécile Guillomet.
I asked Cécile and Louise to read two French poems as a duet: Arthur Rimbaud’s Voyelles and Charles Baudelaire’s Correspondances, which they did with beauty and brio. Both poems evoke the interconnectedness of today’s virtual landscapes, while illustrating the acoustic world McLuhan speaks of.
I then joined the two to create a series of vocal sound effects and textures ranging from snorting, laughing, dial tone imitations, aahhing and oohing to short repetitive word pieces, using phrases like “flash mob”, “back to the future”, etc… We had a wonderful time and got some great stuff with the help of Luc Martinez, who acted as sound recordist and artistic collaborator. I then recorded my wife Kim Bergery voicing texts from the Medium is the Massage, which she did beautifully in her sensual, husky voice.
A photo of our home studio, which included 2 of Luc’s great mikes, an FA-66 audio capture box, and a Mac Book Pro with Final Cut to record. The small Mac on the table displays the text to read.
Luc’s FA-66 mike:
The view from the studio:
You can listen to (or download) the French and English versions of the sound track by Benjamin Bergery & Luc Martinez with Luc Courchesne
Download these mp3 audios by
right click (PC)
I prepared a pdf file with quotes from The Medium is the Massage
These quotes will be spoken by our voices and also partially highlighted in the images of the book.
Some will also be the starting point for comments, mashes, riffs…
I took this photograph of artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and his Parisian team of woman helpers. They were setting up his expo at the Gaité Lyrique.
I took this photo of my friend, media artist Luc Courchesne, during a visit of the Gaité Lyrique in Paris