The Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille (PBA) is a public museum dedicated to fine arts, modern art, and antiquities.
It is one of the largest venues of its kind in France and, as such, welcomes thousands of visitors each year to enjoy its collections by Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya, and Delacroix to name but a few.
Despite the continual disruption caused by Covid-19 the museum unveiled on 15th July a brand-new exhibition: the sixth edition of ‘Open Museum Music’. At the core of this exhibition sits a visionary creation, which has been developed by electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre in partnership with digital musical instrument and app creator BLEASS.
The artwork, known as EōN, has been designed to immerse visitors in anendless audio and visual experience thanks to constantly evolving music and an endless organic progression of the visual content.
The first incarnation of EōN, created by BLEASS under the artistic direction of Jean-Michel Jarre, was an app able to generate endless music and visuals. Another Frenchman, Dr Alexis André, who is based at Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Tokyo, was responsible for the creation of EōN’s striking visual content.
Jean-Michel Jarre said about EōN: "It probably is one of the most exciting creative projects I’ve worked on since Oxygène. I have always wanted to create music that is specific to each listener, capable of constantly evolving in terms of rhythm, tonality, tempo, melody and texture. So here it is. EōN is conceived and composed as a different journey for everyone, with no determined end.”
For the PBA exhibition, BLEASS’s ‘infinite’ audio engine was to be scaled up from the size of a smart phone to a wall-mounted 75’’ Sony 4K Bravia video screen flanked by a pair of iX8 speakers, APG’s new compact speaker range dedicated to interior fixed installation.
Vianney Apreleff, BLEASS’s manager, explained: “Jean-Michel Jarre's vision was to present the video screens vertically, to be reminiscent of the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. That gave us the idea to arrange the iX speakers on either side, creating a kind of triptych effect.”
APG’s iX8 speakers, which have been designed specifically with these kinds of discreet indoor installations in mindfeatures an integral baffle designed to eliminate diffraction and provide a consistent, linear acoustic field, therefore significantly decreasing acoustic feedback even at close range.
The iX series features a high SPL/size ratio andhas also been optimised to comply with the acoustic linearity criteria required for spatial immersive sound systems; another attractive prospect from BLEASS’s point of view.
“We felt it was essential to have an audio system that matched the quality of the music,” said Apreleff. “We were happy to find a manufacturer in APG that could offer professional and perfectly reliable equipment that is also made in France! One of the major benefits was the bass response of these speakers. It was able to meet the artit’s high expectations in terms of sound quality, while negating the need for the additional subwoofer.”
As well as its formidable audio capabilities, the iX8’s minimalist, trapezoidal shape makes it well-suited to all interior architectural styles. It can be positioned at various angles, mounted on a microphone stand, or wall- or ceiling-mounted using the optional accessories.
“The audio side of the installation took us less than an hour,” said Apreleff. “The PBA technical team had already positioned the screen centrally as we had asked them to. The result is splendid, and the visitors are often captivated by the sound. It’s not too loud, but loud enough for themcto immerse themselves in the artwork on display.”
BLEASS selected and purchased all of the products used in the installation; the Sony screens from an AV retailer specialist and the iX8 speakers from APG itself
“It was extraordinary to be able to work with a pioneer like Jean-Michel Jarre during this process. He has great vision and his mind is constantly teeming with creative ideas; not to mention that he has such great humility in his work,” said Apreleff. “I would also like to thank APG for the quality of their products and professionalism of their follow-up.”
“We have all been able to work together to continuously improve the audio engine that orchestrates Jean-Michel Jarre’s music. It’s such a joy to be able to contribute to the creation of a work that truly redefines the concept of music: unlike the things we are used to listening to, which have a beginning and an end, EōN immerses us into a sonic adventure without limits; it allows us to grasp the concept of ‘infinity’ with our own ears and eyes.”
Although the pandemic has limited travel both to and within France – which has, in turn, reduced the number of visitors to the PBA – the exhibition already welcomed thousands of visitors and is scheduled to last until 10th January 2021.
“We’re hoping things will improve before the exhibition ends, so many more visitors are able to witness the exhibition” said Apreleff. “There’s also the hope that the work can be hosted in other places in the future, so that it can be shared with as many people as possible.”
The handheld version of EōN is available on iPhone and iPad via the App Store, with new versions on other operating systems and platforms coming soon.