Dassault Systemes, an experimental French company is using virtual-reality technology to create hallucinogenic theater productions that straddle the line between art and science.
Helming this psychedelic voyage is Benoit Marini, director of the company’s Experimental Lab and Passion for Innovation program. His latest project “Mr. and Mrs. Dream” is a dance production that uses projectors, lights and sensors to evoke an experience so trippy that Marini calls it “virtual unreality.”
The show features two dancers as they travel through the mind and plays of absurdist playwright, Eugene Ionesco. In an interview with Popular Science, Marini describes the stage set up:
We designed a big box, called the Magic Box, because it creates an illusion, like a magician. This box is using screens on the side and on the back. On the floor there is a regular dance floor. Everything has the same color — it’s a light gray. We are using five or six projectors to project everything — everything is like one big universe, one big picture. All of the projectors are located directly on top of the dancer. We use, for particular scenes, sensors located on the top to know their position in the space of the Magic Box. In other scenes, we’re using sensors directly on the bodies of the dancers so they can interact.
Marini plans to eventually bring the project to the U.S. Until then, he says one of the most attractive aspects of creating 3-D worlds is the lack of limitation, which always bodes well for the theater.
“This kind of immersive display can be used to examine life, so I hope there will be new kinds of shows using this immersive technology. This is the beginning, I think. In the future, we can use it on the stage, or make it bigger, with more sensors or people inside,” he said. “But what we already have is still bringing people the illusion that you have something alive in front of you.”