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The Dress | Experimental film starring Gwendoline Christie | Director: Barnaby Roper | VFX supervisor: Sylvery Bolotte | Executive producer: Elisabeth Fabri©

In this 30th issue, CULTURAMA continues its investigations off the beaten track, paying tribute to the legacy of pop culture at the digital age.

For more information on an article, click on the corresponding images
The Dress | Experimental film starring Gwendoline Christie | Director: Barnaby Roper | VFX supervisor: Sylvery Bolotte | Executive producer: Elisabeth Fabri©


"I follow a human trickery that aspires to become a man without trickeries."
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Mathias Malzieu, 2007.

Eric of MA'A*: Creative director and special effects supervisor, you work on the line between real and virtual, combining camera shots with computer graphics developed in 3D image processing software, such as 3DSMax, Maya, Houdini, Nukestudio, and FTrack. Those two aspects are difficult to synthesize. So, how do you manage to create such a homogeneous videographic aesthetic?

Sylvery Bolotte: This border does not seem so obvious. For me, it’s like an exploration through a prism every time, whether it be a camera or a computer tool.

I approach each project as a scientific study: I use the appropriate tool to achieve the desired result. However, it is true that digitally processed images and special effects have been a bit rigid and limited compared to films. Combining both does not seem obvious, especially if you’re trying to trigger emotions in your audience. That's why I spend a lot of time with my graphic design teams to create the unpredictable, to master even the most random outcome. Thanks to the new 3D tools, which react to real parameters such as lens exposure, water pressure or material plasticity, this borderline is getting blurrier. 
The Dress | Experimental film starring Gwendoline Christie | Director: Barnaby Roper | VFX supervisor: Sylvery Bolotte | Executive producer: Elisabeth Fabri©

Eric: You build singular worlds and imaginary situations for cinema, advertising and animation. Among the technological obstacles encountered on your journey, which one seemed insurmountable?

SB: I do remember some of the shots of Barnaby Roper's "The Dress" (2016) featuring Gwendoline Christie. Her body comes alive and her skin turns into the armor-clothing by designer Iris Van Herpen. These shots were very complicated to elaborate because this skin-dress had to smoothly wrap around the actress’s body while following dance moves and body convolutions in real-time. To achieve this, we set up and generated liquid on her body using Houdini software.

Ventoline | Experimental art video | Director: Sylvery Bolotte | Producer: Louis Arcelin | Production company: Saint-Louis Post House©

This fluid had the consistency of jellyfish tentacles. We thus succeeded in simulating the movement of the dress. The first tests worked well but only on some images and under certain conditions. To solve this problem and achieve an acceptable result, we went through moments of doubt, looking for new software and extremely skilled graphic designers. Our director wanted a very innovative choreographic body-garment approach. We did not have a reference which pushed us to experiment out of the box. We get this kind of unexpected situations very often in our line of work.

Götterdämmerung | Rock 'n' roll film starring Iggy Pop | VFX & Creative director: Sylvery Bolotte | VFX editor: Jean-Philippe Mure | VFX producer: Aurélie Lobin©

Eric: Where did the inspiration for the fluid animation in "Ventoline" come from?

SB: After a lot of research and internal developments, which was a long and laborious process, "Ventoline" (2016) began to take the shape that I had envisioned. I wanted to transfigure the material of this almost Christ-like blood, I needed a carnal relationship with this film. So I decided to shoot it entirely. During the production stage, I focused on this carnal relationship, made it the main thread of the story. Then, my producer at the time introduced me to a young slow-motion animation specialist and a hi-speed animation professional.

The only thing left to do was to figure out how to create the emerging-from-the-fluid figures. For the butterfly wings, a lot of tests were done to get the right material. Among other things, we pre-cut about 300 celluloid leaf wings because the liquid, once mixed with a thickener, melted the wings. The day of the shooting was tough: from the synchronization of the slow-motion camera to the calibration of the robot and the celluloid puppets immersed in a liquid and sprayed with compressed air, the whole creative process was really tricky. Once all the elements were set up, behind the control panel, I lived the moment of grace which I had waited for so long. Big red sheaves gave birth to winged animals. I became a contemplative spectator.
Advertisement for Nina Ricci | CG artist-supervisor: Sylvery Bolotte | Director: Eugenio Recuenco | Agency: L.O.V.E©
Advertisement for Thierry Mugler | CG artist-supervisor: Sylvery Bolotte | Director: Baillie Walsh | Production company: Can©
KM3D-1 | Art video starring Kate Moss | CG artist-supervisor: Sylvery Bolotte | Director: Baillie Walsh | Production company: Can & Premiere Heure©

Eric: What project do you have in mind for the future?

SB: Annie DautaneI and I just created the PSOM studio that materializes a long-time dream. This studio will become a tool for innovating and sharing that will serve creative videographers. For now, our daily life is mainly fueled by advertising orders. The studio also aims to help artists create their projects, as we did recently with Tomas Saraceno. I like the notion of experimental collaboration between advertising, fashion and contemporary Art. I intend to develop other projects by following this direction.

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Book on Iris Van Herpen | Groninger Museum Edition©
Q&A of S. Jonze, C. Cunningham & M. Gondry©
The mouvement of air | Dance 2.0 | Claire Bardainne & Adrien Mondot©
"The movement of air" by Claire Bardainne and Adrien Mondot, authors of Pixel's interactive environment, comes from the union between contemporary dance and the digital Arts. An immersive show where the real and the virtual meet on stage to reveal the invisible movements of air. The real-time computer-generated image illuminates fantastic landscapes (clouds, snow, etc.) and anthropomorphic images (ghosts, doubles, entities, etc.), which sometimes come out of the frame and become the wind. Thus, the viewer gets to the limit of choreographed poetry, thanks to the synergy that technology can offer.
The mouvement of air | Dance 2.0 | Claire Bardainne & Adrien Mondot©
Impossible image | Fashion photography at the digital age | Phaïdon Edition | M. Sanders & P. Poynter©
Fallin | AR-modified photo | Jukan Tateisi©


"Non-human" — such is the notion which caught Jukan Tateisi's attention in 2017. Ever since, this American-Japanese artist studies the borderline between different forms of artificial intelligence, human intelligence and the interactions between them. When ideas or images become collective representations, can they be considered human? Do they turn into virtual amalgams? Do they become artificial? In order to find an answer to these questions, Jukan created a data processing tool which explores different segments of the existing social media. This tool is "It is that it is".
Halo | "It is that it is" project | Visual from 18,198 image publications with hashtag #whitedove, the symbol of Peace | Jukan Tateisi©
Its algorithm finds images linked to a given hashtag, creates a new visual form out of them. This research aims to observe how images and symbols, the fruit of human intelligence, transform through the eyes of artificial intelligence. AI discerns information which is imperceptible to human senses. The methodical breakdown of pixel layers, which are distinctly superimposed and which characterize History, highlights a globalized culture. The resulting abstract hologram thus refers to the process of human thought while moving further from it.

"We do not communicate to dishearten, nor to impress.
We communicate to analyze trends.

Abd-el Senguel Mafoula, Brazzaville, 1995.

Logan's Run | Director: Michael Anderson | Production company: Warner Bros. Pictures©
The Holy Mountain | Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky | Production company: ABKCO Films©
The Cremaster Cycle | Matthew Barney©
Art pieces by Studio Reynolds©