August 27th, 2018 | by Mathieu Gayet

"Technology must be transparent" - Gilles Jobin (VR_I)

Cie Gilles Jobin is a Geneva-based international contemporary dance company. Gilles Jobin’s work has regularly fed on matter- and movement-related science and technology.

Background & first experiences

Gilles Jobin - I am a contemporary dance choreographer. I have been active since 1995 creating cutting edge dance pieces. My work is displayed worldwide, mainly in the dance circuit but not only. I always been interested in new technologies, but to me, technology must be transparent, and have an artistic purpose, a necessary function into a piece.  I used a “text to speech” program to read  texts live form computers on stage  for the eponym dance piece. I was resident artists at CERN, the particle physic lab near Geneva and made I piece called QUANTUM (link) with a technologically complex kinetic light sculpture from the visual artist Julius Von Bismarck .

G. J. - I was interested in 3D and I directed a 3 D movie called WOMB (link) and that is that project that started my interest into volumetric images. The collaboration with next level Geneva based  tech fondation Artanim (link) triggered the creation of VR_I. It is when I discovered their mocap facilities and their “Real Reality” immersive system (link) that I wanted to make a piece with it.

Gilles Jobin’s new experience: VR_I

G. J. - VR_I has been selected for the Sundance film Festival, The Venice VR Mostra but also went to the Haus Fur Elektronishe Kunst in Basel. We are also invited in September to the Dance Biennale in Lyon, the “mostra” for dance in Europe. So what is new is that a contemporary dance piece is invited in “A list” cinema festivals but also into the traditional dance circuit.


G. J. - Specifically the Venice VR invitation is a fantastic recognition of the collaboration between my company and Artanim, invited as “best of” it gives us a special status in the VR world. It is quite remarkable that a dance piece participates in the global reflexion of what is – or what will or should be – the future of VR. It is a very exciting time to be there at the start of all of this literally making history, just like in the early days of cinema. And what is specially nice in VR at the moment is that all the actors exchange ideas and projects because all need to grab and share info as we all face the unknown. Nothing in certain in VR today.

Where do we go next (with collaborative interactive art)?

G. J. - Well that is THE question everybody would like to answer!  What I find particularly stimulating in the VR and AR filed is precisely that no one has this answer! It not formated yet, no one can foresee what will work and what won’t.  Studios are hesitating, investors wait for the kick off while artists and tech companies are leading the pack. We are not only creating content for VR but also experimenting on content for the medium.

G. J. - It feels like being the filmmaker Melies who invented special effect in cinema but never thought about moving the camera. It is constant forward invention as much as not seeing the obvious jus right under your nose! Artists and content makers are needed now and must be put at the center of the question. Just like in any new technology it has now to be handed over to content makers. It is the users that will decide what will be successful or not. It would be wrong to think that the formulas of the past will work. I believe artists must now embrace the technology.

G. J. - It is ultimately the users that will surprise us all on how they integrate the technology into their daily life. No “killer app “ in sight, location based definitively is the trend.  Last and not least, and this will not happen for much longer, 98% of audience had never experienced VR! In 5 years maybe 50 % and in 7-8 years maybe 95%… Just lime when Melies was producing is first movies, he knew that the majority of the audience had never experienced the moving image….   Exiting time indeed!

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