Thursday, 7 September 2017


Damien Chaillou hooks us up with the appropriate adaptor so we can begin the day by connecting our hefty early-noughties digital camera to a far more contemporary projector, enabling us to get started on our experiments with holographics.

We already have a Yuan-shaped cardboard cut-out, so we channel her image from one camera, through the projector, and on to her 2D avatar; it works quite nicely, but the cardboard is somehow a bit too clunky (if that's possible) so we proceed to work with various alternative materials and lighting set-ups to get the interactive, hand-waving (and peace-sign wielding) Yuan that we know and admire appropriately videoported from one corner of the studio to another. Veering dangerously close to the uncanny valley, we pause for lunch (and for me to go and get my five locally-crafted stitches removed by a friendly nurse) and concentrate, after lunch, on building tangible scenery and props. On the topic of obsolescent hardware and connector conspiracy, our coffee machine gives up the ghost mid-afternoon, the water failing to connect with the coffee grinds.

Monkey with cable issues.

Chaillou and I have spent some hours, over the past couple of days, trying to capture mini-DV footage via a succession of programs and computers. Each time, a couple of dropped frames bring the whole process to a halt. The computers want everything or they want nothing - a single missing frame is cause enough for a melodramatic refusal to continue. We sense our absurd quest for total documentation reflected in the process and product of outdated equipments in ways that aren't so immediately obvious in newer tech that has not yet ripened. Slowing down to follow the signal and lovingly press buttons with functions that today you'd just gesture at is a rewarding way to keep focussed on our aims. At least it is so long as the footage, cursed like our characters to be trapped in obscurity, is pretty much second-rate and no big loss.

There's nothing for it but to get back to real space and air, so we take a field trip to the sturdy Palais Jacques Coeur, a key location of The Curse of the Phantom Tympanum, to take sketches and photographs for its virtual reconstruction (in cardboard). Like the cathedral, the house that Jacques built (but barely lived in before he was nabbed by the gendarmerie) is thick with sculptural reliefs (if we couldn't find any that were quite as pervy as the cathedral boasts), and as you might guess from the title of the forthcoming UNIVERSAL EAR episode, they play an important part in the tale.

It's a beautiful, winding house, but it feels a shame to be ushered through such a direct route when it promises a warren of secret passages, alternative escape-routes and time-proof hidey nooks. All the same, we identify some find shapes and colours to steal, and I'm impressed to catch young interns Decerle and Delevacq defacing the visitor book with UNIVERSAL EAR imagery before we leave. You can't go wrong with paper and pen.

Studying the tympanae(?)

Jacques Coeur and his emblematic heart. It's a HEART.

Yuan having a moment by a key Curse location.

More bloody hearts.
Inspiration for hats...

...and for interns.

Back at the studio, the unreal thing.

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