Maybe you remember those liquid mercury thermometers and, when they broke, how pleasing it was to chase the mercury balls around trying to grasp them between your fingers. Or those school experiments with iron filings and magnets: matter having a life of its own in fact. Faire Corps, the interactive ‘artistic experience’ imagined and engineered by the French company, Adrien M & Claire B, at Paris’ Gaîté Lyrique theatre, holds that same fascination, while also lulling us into feeling we’re part of a dreamy sci-fi fiction film on a voyage between benevolent, star-filled universes. The fact that there are other mortals, with rucksacks and plastic bags covering their shoes, sharing our experience, only slightly disrupts our suspension of disbelief. But this is also a source of delight: grown-ups, as enthusiastic as their children, in front of futuristic fairground mirrors, where the slightest movement enables their reflection to turn elastic, rippling and twisting fantastically. Or other people, visible inside a giant transparent cube, conjuring up a flurrying storm of white letters with the waft of an arm. And still more, queueing to choreograph a pas de deux with shards of light that cluster, spread out and disappear, just out of step with their human partner.
Adrien Mondot, multi-disciplinary artist, computer scientist and juggler, together with Claire Bardainne, visual artist, graphic designer and scenographer, pooled their talents and founded their company in 2011 with the aim of creating performances and installations that ‘place the body at the heart of images’. Indeed, perhaps because the technology is so seamless, our tactile connection to it feels spontaneous and natural; and the monochrome purity of the light and mirror optical illusions, together with the echoing soundscape, make the whole experience feel poetic and truly otherworldly. Faire Corps is beautiful proof of how far digital art has come from its clunky beginnings, and of how far we’ve come in merging with it, both in body and mind. The future is already here.