As part of the France-Qatar cross year program Year of Culture, Qatar Museum invite us to collaborate with the Qatari artist Ghada Al Khater.
Presented at the Nuit Blanche 2020, Jardin de Lumière is a monumental interactive installation offering a contemporary interpretation of the Persian rug. As a multi-sensory and interactive work, it comes to life under the footsteps of visitors by immersing them in a visual, sound and olfactory atmosphere between nature and Middle Eastern tradition.
Visitors will find traditional motifs intertwined with the flora and fauna populating the Persian carpet. A poetic experience between heritage and modernity. The discovery of the rug can be made freely to ensure everyone could live their own experiences. Each time the user walk on the rug, the fauna and flora comes to life in a unique way. As an exchange between Qatar and France, the chosen location was an exceptional place at the heart of Paris along the Champs Élysée.
The immersion was complete, both on the rug with an impressive but light setting, and from the surrounding fifty metres or so giving the sensation of a real gateway to Qatar. Our wish was really to make people stay on the site not only to enjoy the experience but also the atmosphere. There were a lot of people around watching, listening, breathing it quietly and not in the hurry to move
The experience could not be complete without an immersive sound environment and typical scents that can be found in Qatar.
The fragrance, diffused through the ground was specially designed by Ghada AL Khater for this occasion.
It instinctively call the user to the installation.
The sound dimension is also very important to the immersion. In the distance, the users can hear Fjiri, a traditional song which was also used as a call. To better immerse oneself, once on site, in a typical, natural but also almost amniotic atmosphere, the music uses pulsating electronic consonants. We recorded and collected natural sounds and traditional elements that we assemble to create a sound environment that alternates between reverie and travel in the first act and also an immersion in nature in the second.
To bring this large-scale installation to life, we collaborated with Nokimono. They were in charge of a LIDAR solution which makes all the floor reactive to the position of each spectator.
All the position datas are sent to the real-time software via OSC messages where a compute shader is dedicated to create a position map. This position map appears and fades aways according to the spectator path during its journey on the rug and is read by each fauna and flora instance in order to controls its animations.
In order to bring the fauna & flora to life, the studio worked closely with Lagoon Studio which was in charge of the animations.
We ported each animation into Houdini in order to export each of them into Vertex Animation Texture (VAT). The Vertex Animation Texture allows us to bake all the flora growth animation and fauna walk cycle animation into various textures. These textures are then read by a custom shader which animate all the vertices directly into the GPU inside Unity3D.
This process allows us to simulate a large number of elements without any CPU over usage in order to create a 4K+ fauna and flora floor.
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