A participative project on Leonardo da Vinci

Interview with 3 students from the IAE university business school, who have been working on a light creation inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci. The project was supervised by Camille Michel, head of cultural projects at Lyon University.

Once we’d arranged an appointment at the Halles du Faubourg, we interviewed three students studying for a degree in Light Design and Management (IAE - Lyon University 3), who told us more about their contribution to the Festival of Lights through the project entitled Les Rêveries Lumineuses de Léonard.

Students taking part in the Rêveries Lumineuses de Léonard project at the Halles du Faubourg © Ville de Lyon

What is your role in this light creation?
Arthur Chauvot: Without going into too much detail, we’re going to have to set up a light machine. It’s going to have a mechanical part and electrical part, which will be giving off the light. We created two groups, with the first working on a mechanical part and the second on the “reaction”, with an artistic component designed to make audiences dream.
Robin Métral: We’re going to play with light and reflections… For the moment, we’re really in an experimental phase.
Saïd Ouhssaine: For the mechanical part, we entered the mindset of Leonardo, deciding to use working parts and gears. The aim is to use these mechanics to create light effects. There is a really strong interactive aspect to this project.
Robin: We’re counting on interactivity to attract audiences and set ourselves apart from other installations. Compared to Place Bellecour, we don’t have much space. This means we’re going to try to draw audiences in and make them participate in a different way... And make them dream too.

How did you design this installation?
Robin: We really studied the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Everything that helped us design the machine is linked to his writings and work.
Arthur: We had an additional constraint in that we are the first installation the public see before entering the garden of the Bullukian Foundation. For this reason, we were given some specific guidelines to attract the public and show them we are there.
Saïd: It’s a teaser… before entering a wonderful garden.

What difficulties did you encounter?
All three:
Time! We started working on a project late September/early October. We couldn’t really start earlier because we don’t go back to university until mid-September. November’s set to be a very busy month!

And what have you gained from this experience?
: Personally, I consider my training to be very functional, learning how to light venues or cities. With this project, the artistic aspect is crucial and I really like that. I think it’s an aspect we should always bear in mind, even for lighting cities of the future…
Robin: For me, the words "Light conception" are important and I’m seeking to provide a concept, to convey a message or emotions. The fact we’ve been working with artists on this project means we’ve done just that! This makes the work poetic and not purely technical.
Saïd: For my part, this project involved “marrying” mechanics and light. I find that really interesting, fascinating in fact. In my future career, I hope to work with this dual aspect again.
Arthur: To sum up, I think we’ve learnt how to be humble, how to work together as a group and how light design can provide a poetic touch. And working for the Festival of Lights, that’s badass!

More information on the Degree in Light Design and Management

5 questions for Camille Michel, head of cultural projects at Lyon University.

The Bullukian Foundation garden

How did this this project come about at Lyon University?
Camille Michel
: We were the ones who approached the local authorities, as it is part of the University’s cultural policy to participate in the city’s key projects. We thought the Festival of Lights would be a great opportunity as it’s an event that combines artistic, technical and scientific disciplines. In 2018, we took part in the Dance Biennale parade.

What is your role in this project?
I’m in charge of coordination as it is a collaborative project involving 14 partner entities and 7 production teams, with both a technical and artistic management team. There’s also a close partnership with ENSATT*, with its master’s degrees in Administration and Lighting.  My job is to make sure all those involved communicate effectively.
*Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre

How many students are involved in this project?
Almost a hundred, from September to December. The schedule is fairly tight, with design workshops being held in each entity in October and November, followed by a production phase on 4 different sites, the Halles du Faubourg, ENSATT, INSA and the AsTech FabLab on the Doua Campus.

Why did you choose Leonardo Da Vinci?
It was the Artistic department that suggested this subject. The department is led by Christine Richier, who heads the Lighting department at the ENSATT, along with Tom Huet, an artist working with light and lighting designer Julie Lola Lanteri. Christine and Tom had already talked about Leonardo da Vinci’s writing on light and shade. So we invited Tom, who works in Brazil, to come to France and take it a step further… with the constraint that it needed to be a participative project, both in terms of design and production. And of course, this year marks the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death.

Why should audiences make the effort to come to the Bullukian Foundation to see this installation?
Because it’s going to be very beautiful and very poetic. Most of the works will be displayed in the 800 m2 garden of the Bullukian Foundation, which is a really quiet, peaceful place right next to the Place Bellecour. We’re right in the middle of the production phase at the moment, so we don’t yet have the final view, but it’s a real collective project, in which many people have invested their time as well as their heart and souls!

Les Rêveries Lumineuses de Léonard