Paris’s digital art museum launches ambitious interactive competition

Out of the darkness of the large stone foundry in Paris, Alice in Wonderland emerges. Flitting between the dimly lit woodland which has popped up around us and in search of adventures, Alice is off to explore a succession of surreal worlds as pop music thuds around the venue and it feels like we – gallery visitors – are running through the trees with her. In the distance, the moonlight glistens on the water. The black and white animated short, an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is the creation of Cutback, a France-based studio best known for providing musicians such as Johnny Hallyday with graphic screens and backdrops for concerts.

But on Friday night, it’s one of 11 artistic collectives from France, Ireland and Turkey competing in Paris’s first Interactive art festival at the Atelier des Lumières in north-east Paris operated by Culturespace, a French museum foundation that specialise in immersive art displays. This year, for its inaugural immersive art festival, the focus is on digital design as a form of artistic expression in its own right.

Turkish artistic collective OUCHHH’s project, Datamonolith, part of the Interactive art festival at the Atelier des Lumières, Paris, running from October 18-24.

Turkish artistic collective OUCHHH’s project, Datamonolith.

Each evening between 18 and 24 October, the 11 competing teams will put on a four-minute immersive show that will flow around the large space, using techniques that combine video, photography, motion design and specialised sound, immersing audiences in their art.

One of the greatest talking points and most frightening parts of the screening was the large monstrous spider wandering alongside me as I leant on a concrete wall. Cokau Lab has created an imaginary planet by photographing real life creatures, including centipedes and tarantulas, using an innovative lighting technique.

Cokau Lab’s imaginary planet, populated by oversized creatures.

Cokau Lab’s imaginary planet, populated by oversized creatures.

The focus of this project may be to give the public a chance to experience new artists through innovative technologies, but it also shows how visitors can engage and share art when digital design and interactive experiences are combined on such an ambitious scale.

Museum goers can interact and vote on the creations via an app and, combined with a jury, a winner will be announced on October 24 and house an exhibition in the Atelier for six months.

This experimental festival opens possibilities to innovation and storytelling in ways I had never previously imagined. It’s possible the museum of the future starts here.

The festival is on in the evenings 18-24 October but tickets (€24) are only available on 23 October. During the day an interactive Van Gogh show runs until 31 December