Gaîté Lyrique: changing the relationship between author, artwork and spectator using satnav

The gallery

The Parisian theatre La Gaîté Lyrique was restored in 2001 by the City of Paris. Managed under a public service delegation contract, La Gaîté Lyrique offers a space to experience all forms of digital culture, from theatre and dance, to film-making, animation, web games, music and visual arts, among others.

The challenge

Starting 1st of February 2012, La Gaîté Lyrique proposed an eight-week exposition and a series of events under the theme “2062 Back and Forth to the Future”. In light of the bicentenary of the theatre in 2062, the event included an exhibition, theatre performances and concerts inviting the public to read the present and imagine the future by reflecting on the links among technology, art, media and society. In order to foster such interaction, the organisers looked for a tool that would both stimulate active participation of visitors and explore new forms of shaping the relationship between author and spectator.

The satellite solution

The Audioguide@, created by the interdisciplinary art collectives and Orbe for La Gaîté Lyrique, is a geolocalised sound device that captures and broadcasts the voices of visitors that have contributed their thoughts, over time. Such a sound device was installed in strategic spots around the gallery and flagged with a barcode. A sentence is associated to each strategic spot (as “I walk towards…” or “I remember that…”) to stimulate thought, while a series of sound testimonials have been uploaded on the Audioguide@ to provide a first base of exchange. Visitors of the 2062 event can borrow a smartphone at the entrance and use it to activate the contents associated to the strategic spots. The device acts like a compass with the user in its centre. Visitors can comment on the content already available or attach new contents to a specific point in space, sharing experiences, ideas and points of view on the artworks.

The result

The Audioguide@ is meant to transform the way artist and public interact: it enables visitors to become active subjects of the artistic process, showing that there is more than one way to observe an object. It will be kept by La Gaîté after the end of the exhibition to become, as envisaged by the theatre’s artistic coordinator Vincent Cavaroc, a “living archive” documenting the history of the art centre through the experiences of those that passed though it. Moreover, the application could be further developed and adapted as a programmatic tool to future exhibitions.

In October 2012, the Parisian Collège des Bernardins will launch an adapted version of the application at the occasion of the “Journées du patrimoine 2012”.

The Audioguide@ represents a new tool to stimulate interaction with artworks and the exchange of points of view.” Vincent Cavaroc, Artistic Coordinator, La Gaîté Lyrique.