Art in Paris: digital and natural

Monday, I was sitting on a platform in the back of an old foundry in Paris overlooking what is now known as Atelier des Lumières. The Atelier is the first digital art museum in Paris. I have gone five times since it opened its doors in April of 2018. All the shows are a combination of Art and Technology. Using 120 projectors, images are thrown up on walls and the floor. They are in constant motion and accompanied by music.

After watching a show of Cezanne, Kandinsky, and Van Gogh, I decided I wanted to know more about the origins of the Atelier des Lumières. As each of the shows ended and the credits were projected on the walls, eight cities (including Paris) now house these light shows: Bordeaux, Les Baux-de-Province, Amsterdam, New York, Dubai, Seoul, and Jeju. That is six more than the last time I was there during the summer of 2020. My sister had told me she had tickets to see the Van Gogh show in Detroit (for five times the price we pay here in Paris!). I had assumed it was the Paris show that was traveling but I’m not so sure. There is a permanent installation in New York.

The first of these art and technology shows, Carrières des Lumières, started in les Baux-de-Province. There the art is projected onto the walls of caves. It is part of a much larger organization called Cultural Spaces. Bruno Monnier, the president of Cultural Spaces, wanted to bring the idea to Paris. He found an unused foundry from the 19th century called Chemin-Vert located in the 11th arrondissement. It was created in 1835 to meet the needs of the Navy and railways for high-quality castings. It closed in 1929 due to the International crisis. Monnier has taken the space, left it intact, and cleaned it up while fitting it for all the projectors. It opened in 2018 with a show of Klimpt’s famous paintings. It is hard to describe the show if you haven’t seen one. My photos are static but the images are constantly moving like a giant slide show. Music is chosen specifically for certain periods in an artist’s life. The result is captivating. It’s not a stretch to call it a completely immersive experience. Children often run around chasing the images on the floor and become part of the fun of the show.

Kandinsky

After writing the above, I walked to Parc de Bagatelle to check on the peacocks and the cats. I couldn’t go on Sunday. I saw how fast the peacock tails were growing in. I thought of sitting in the Atelier watching these famous artists’ depictions of nature dancing on the walls. And, of being in Bagatelle week after week, looking at the trees turn colors, the roses die away, a few defying nature and hanging on to their stems, the peacocks strutting around, their tails growing so fast it just might be a slide show. There is no sign of the females. There aren’t even that many people even though it was a lovely autumn day. The cats were all out enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Gaston and Zoe (the cats from the circus) are lying on the bench.

The regular volunteer was just finishing up feeding time for the cats. I asked him how long it took the peacock tails to complete the circle to full growth. He said April. They molt in August. Four months is the short time they are full and probably the equivalent of mating season.

Two months worth of growth, the eyes are now clearly visible

I asked him about kittens. He said most are born between September and December. We never see them because the mothers hide them in the thick bushes on the periphery of the park. I had visions of bushwacking my way through those bushes until I found a litter. Then I’d steal one and raise it—much to the chagrin of Bijou who is the true Lady and Mistress of my small apartment. A girl can dream.

One rose, with a strong perfume, is hanging on. Because it is an entrant into the competition of 2023, it is not named.

Being at Bagatelle week after week is as immersive an experience as the digital art show at the Atelier. One shouldn’t compare apples and oranges but, if I were forced to choose…..

Van Gogh’s Starry Night

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A bientôt,

Sara

Catching up with myself

The formal rose garden at Parc de Bagatelle

It is rare, if ever, that I write about something before it happens. When I wrote my post on Anatomy of a Scandal, it was more a review of a book and a series that I was encouraging readers to be aware of. Then last week, the media publicised the result of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial. A travesty. Real life mimicking art. For those that don’t read this kind of stuff, Johnny Depp was awarded at least ten million euros to be paid to him by Amber Heard, his ex-wife. He had sued her because she had tattled on him publicly about domestic violence. Although witness after witness testified about horrible things he said and did, the media liked him better. The jury liked him better. And he won. Just like in the book and series, Ms Heard was made to say things no woman should have to say to defend herself. It didn’t help. One can’t help but wonder whether this will put back by many decades what woman are willing to report and/or say when it comes to sexual assault, rape, etc. If any any of you want to correct my perceptions of this, please do. I didn’t watch any of the trial, had no interest in it. However, after I wrote the earlier blog, I was interested in all the Op Eds that came out the next couple of days. Without exception, the writers, both male and female, were aghast at the results.

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With the support of many of you–Thank you, you know who your are–I got my application in to Stanford University for the writing program. The wait is not long – mid July. I believe I have a fifty-fifty chance of getting in. One cheerleader sent me a wonderful book called Dreyer’s English–An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. Written by a copy editor, the book is laugh-out-loud funny and helpful. What does a copy editor do? S/he takes a finished piece of writing and makes it … cleaner. Example from p. 245: “There is a world of difference between turning in to a driveway, which is a natural thing to do with one’s car, and turning into a driveway, which is a Merlin trick.” Since I often jump to the back of a book (I don’t know why), I read that within my first hour of reading the book. I laughed so hard, I had tears. Now I pause every time I write ‘in to’ or ‘into’. I have to say that line over and over to myself. Have I been writing it wrong all these years? No one has said anything but it does seem like a mistake I might make. I urge any writer amongst you to get a hold of this gem of a book even if you write perfectly. We all need a good laugh and true wit these days.

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Amy Larue, tour leader and garden expert, explaining roses to us.

The Parc de Bagatelle is in rose heaven. Since I returned from Normandy mid-May, the roses have been in bloom. There is a formal rose garden, Roseraie Classique, at the far east end of the park and a natural rose garden, called Rosiers du Paysage, at the other end. I took a tour of Parc de Bagatelle on Tuesday and learned that the modern rose can bloom from May through Christmas. The Antique rose, which went out of favor for a long time, blooms only once during the season. These roses were moved to the very back of the formal garden and most people just pass by them in their attempt to get in the middle of the rainbow of color from rose bushes, rose trees, and trellises with climbing roses. There is a contest every year. Roses are brought in by different growers and watched over a two or three year period depending if they are in the formal garden or paysage garden. The judges come every week for six months before and during the season. They look for disease, hardiness, how the bush covers a piece of ground, the color of the leaves, smell, and how the petals fall off once the flower has died. It seems very complicated. Our tour guide, one of the judges, says she often has to give high marks to a rose she wouldn’t have in her own garden because of the criteria. Today, Thursday, June 16th, the winners are announced. The formal rose garden is closed for half the day while a huge ceremony is produced. While walking around on Tuesday, we saw flags from fifteen different countries.

I also learned that the beautiful peacocks that i have photographed and often shown in this blog are all male. The female peacock has no color except on her face. Her back is a huge grey blob. Our guide says this is so that she can hide from the males and also protect her babies.

Female peacock

Once during the past two weeks, I happened upon the wonderful volunteers who feed the cats of Bagatelle. Peacocks, the males, it really is very rare to see a female, will sit quietly by and watch. There is always the hope that some of the kibble will find its way to the other side of the path which is peacock country.

The cats of Bagatelle being fed by the wonderful volunteers

A bientôt,

Sara

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