A Virtual Reality Sky Opens Up the Ceiling of a Gothic Church in Paris
The soaring French Gothic architecture of Paris' Sant-Eustace church is impressive in its own right, but it has been taken to new heights thanks to Miguel Chevalier's newest installation. As part of the annual Nuit Blanche, an all night arts and culture festival, the celebrated artist, whose work focuses exclusively on computers as an artistic means of expression, used the church's ceiling vaults as his canvas for an array of mapping projections. The work is titled Voûtes Célestes, or Celestial Vaults, and throughout the course of one evening, more than 10,000 visitors watched as the naves and transepts of the church morphed into changing skies.
This generative and interactive virtual reality artwork functions in real time, as the imaginary sky charts change shape following visitors' movements—its dynamic choreography dancing along the vaults. Visitors were encouraged to look up toward the heavens in order to enjoy the experience, a symbolic gesture in this religious space. As they did so, they discovered a multitude of colored networks of light that spread out in the form of sinuous webs. The 35 colorful universes took form and then lost their shape, dissolving into each other.
The entire experience was enhanced with music—musical improvisations played by Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard and repertoires performed by Les Chanteurs de Saint-Eustache. Chevalier, who is no stranger to installations in Gothic interiors, highlights the impressive architecture, while at the same time creating a mesmerizing, immersive experience. The final effect is a virtual stained glass that merges nature, technology, and architecture.