Graphics for "The Tempest"


This page presents the preparatory research work in video (from video captures made by Véronique Caye) and in drawing (from the painting The Tempest by Giorgione) as part of my participation in the creation of La Tempête, a show by Véronique Caye hosted in residence by the Scène de recherche of L'École Normale Supérieure Paris Saclay in January-February 2020. I add to it a set-theoretic vision of magic, a formal game without any claim of making a "philosophy" of magic.


Vector video consists of transforming each frame of a video into a vector image (like the ones you can obtain by transforming a bitmap image into an SVG image in Inkscape). Here, we use four layers composed of 4 gray levels + a white background. In addition to vectorization, additional transformations can be performed on the vector representation of the image (in our case in SVG format) before it is finally transformed into bitmap and video file. An example of vector video rendering is given by the video opposite with two video composition and central zoom effects. The source videos are by Véronique Caye and were filmed in Belle Île en Mer, France.

During the interactive visual rendering during the show, the vector video is applied to a 3D model of the room in which the projection takes place. The rendering of this 3D model is registered so that it coincide with the physical volume of the room in which it is projected so that the surfaces of the room are overlaid by the videos, which are thus rendered without perspective distortion (in a logic of augmented reality). Finally, during rendering, digital effects are added, and are programmed to react, among other things, to the interactive musical composition, they are visible from 0'13" in the video. Examples of vector video screenshots with digital effects are shown in the gallery below. Note that the effects "regranulate" the vector videos which, unlike standard videos, are rendered like animation movies


In order to prepare the drawings which will be proposed in connection with the musical composition and the performance of the actors, I have made sketches based on a photo of The Tempest by Giorgione which serves as a joint reference with Shakespeare's play in the creation of Véronique Caye. I made these sketches in the same spirit as those made by Claude Viallat (I thank V. Caye for his pointer) with more or less distance compared to the classic work. The drawings are presented in the gallery below.

The painting is structured like a cosmos organized in a circle which connects the moon tree, the sun tree, the woman and the man. Like many components of this painting, these elements are gendered (two male symbols and two female symbols) and arranged diametrically opposite with the middle of the bridge as center of the circle. My sketches show different types of symbols (gender, connection (I agree with Viallat), animality...). I was very intrigued by the animal shape that carries the woman, half anteater, half sea lion (this painting by Giorgione is contemporary with the Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch). Finally, the sketch entitled La Mer tries to connect La Tempête seen by the videographer's eye of Véronique Caye and the painter's eye of Giorgione.

Not all vanishing points converge towards the same horizon line (a horizontal slightly above the bridge). Strangely, the altar on which the two columns are placed has a very high and distant vanishing point (close to the center of the sun tree or even outside the painting). Is it a divine vision of this element because it is infinitely distant? In this case, what do these two columns that stand on this altar symbolize? Feminism in Italy appeared during the Renaissance, supported by female theorists who developed ideas on gender equality. Would this painting have to do with this current of thought, giving the two characters a balanced role unusual in previous works? Could this tempest be that of a deep social evolution from a Middle-Age patriarchal society towards a much more equal Italian Renaissance society? But it is difficult to qualify this painting as a feminist one, because, even if the woman and the man are equidistant from the viewer and therefore painted at a similar scale, even if the height of the two faces in the painting is the same, the woman is shown sitted, half naked, breastfeeding (therefore mother), and with her pubis visible (therefore object of desire), while the man is represented dressed (therefore in his social role). In addition, he holds a stick, a symbol of power.

As many analysts have noted, this painting stands out from the religious scenes usually depicted at that time. It is precisely the originality of its subject and its lack of univocity that arouses interest due to the enigmatic aspect of its composition. The observations which I report here are, of course, questionable. I do not have the erudition of a humanist who can make an analysis based on a deep knowledge of this period. These reflections inspired by observation of Giorgione's painting only engage myself...

A set-theoretic vision of magic

The imaginary gathers all personal visions of the real world (some of which coincide with the real world). Each of our specific visions (VS) of reality (R) are the effect of our personal perceptions (VP). The imaginary world being the set of these perceptual interpretations of reality.

Prospero uses magic to exploit the ambivalence of our senses and move our imagination (or make us see another reality). It creates a new imagination by orienting (exploiting) our sensory creativity through his magic, in order to control us through our emotions and achieve his ends without damaging us (white magic compared to black magic).

But doesn't Prospero have a double facet: a brilliant and manipulative side of the one who subtly achieves his goals, and a dark and melancholic side of the one who, once he has achieved his ends, discovers the vanity of his art and his loneliness. Is it also a reflection on the "spectacle/show" and theatrical creation?