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Connecting with the gestures of early artists: the virtual reality of Anne Dubos

By Fabien Fabbula on 14 March 2019

Anthropologist, writer, photographer and videographer, artist/researcher Anne Dubos returns to Laval with ‘Paléograph’, an immersive and multi-sensory installation crowning five years of work around gestures.

The project originated in the artist/researcher’s interest in defining human gestures. For her final anthropology dissertation at the EHESS (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences), she studied the transmission of gestures in South India, among the famous Kathakali dancers. How are these gestures passed down? Is it possible for a foreigner to learn the formation of these very distinctive gestures? Her hypothesis at that time was that the existence of the gesture is governed by an ecology of practices. Therefore, to model these gestures with a view to passing them on, the environments in which they are formed first need to be understood. She decided to organise ‘gesture days’, thanks to the support of Stereolux in Nantes, to develop this concept with a multidisciplinary approach. There she met Judith Guez and Jean-François Jégo, both pioneers in digital arts and virtual reality. With them, she staged her first augmented theatre play, Rock Art Rocks Me, an immersive installation where four dancers interact with a volumetric projection of the Chauvet Cave while a beatboxer (aka Naun), vocalises the entire play.
The aim is to explore what gave rise to this fascinating example of cave painting, over 30,000 years ago: a funeral ritual? Hunting tally? Shadow theatre? No one knows. The artist selected a trans-disciplinary team and founded the company Little Heart Movement to stage several of these hypotheses and attempt to regain some of the gestures at the origin of these works. For her new work, Anne Dubos is extending her research with the horses in the Trois Frères Cave (Ariège) as the framework. What about animating these horses using the same dynamic as one of Calder’s mobiles? This initial intuition prompted the artist and her team to design ‘Paléograph’. In this new immersive installation, visitors are invited to paint in the cave, expose motifs from archaeological surveys, while generating soundscapes composed in collaboration with the artist Jasch. Thousands of years on, we can rediscover this legacy that we have all inherited.
‘Paléograph” will be exhibited at the Orangery in the Perrine gardens in Laval, as part of the creative festival Recto VRso, from 20 th to 24 th March 2019, before opening to the public on 6th April, at the Grottes de Saulges museum. “Patrimonial facilities” work for the Community of Muncipalities of Coëvrons, produced with the support of the Pays de la Loire region.