Illuminated 'Future Ruins' Unite the Future and the Past [Premiere]

A classical garden environment meets new technology in Romain Tardy’s 'Future Ruins.'

by Benoit Palop
09 February 2016, 8:50pm

All images courtesy the artist

Future Ruins from Romain Tardy on Vimeo.

Best known for projection-mapped ferris wheels and a minimalist flair, Brussels-based French new media artist Romain Tardy unveiled Future Ruins a few months ago. The Lausanne, Switzerland-based multimedia installation revisited the Musée de l'Elysée’s renaissance garden, enhancing the classic space—common in Europe—with new technologies. The result provides an audience with immersive audiovisual experience powered by impressive projection mappings and 12 geometric, ground-located LED structures. Today, The Creators Project premieres all-new visual documentation of Future Ruins in action. 

Taking advantage of the historically bourgeois backyard’s specificities—a space formerly renowned for feeding imaginations, easing intergenerational human interactions, and being somewhere it's quite easy to lose track of time in—Tardy’s projections turn the neoclassical environment into a colossal canvas for experimental light art. “The inspiration first came from the architecture of the museum’s building, which was built in 1780, which I got the inspiration from to design the LED structures. But the core idea of the installation, which is to imagine what could be the remnants of the world we’re living in today, also reminds [of] the fascination of the artists from the neoclassical period for ancient civilizations such as ancient Greece or ancient Rome,” Tardy tells The Creators Project. “The aesthetics of ruins, as well as the romantic phantasmagoria about a long-gone era, and the idea of an imaginary world, are also the main components of Future Ruins,” he adds whild explaining that his work offers an intentionally anachronistic narrative.

His creative process behind Future Ruins was quite different compared to previous projects. He says, “Even if Future Ruins is a site-specific work, I’ve had this idea of creating these « digital ruins » for a while, so this was a great opportunity to bring this concept to life.”

“Before even sketching anything, I spent a couple weeks studying the building and its surroundings: the original commission from the Elysée museum was about an architectural projection, but I felt that something was missing to create a piece that would strongly relate to this place: this is how the idea of creating those LED structures in the shape of some architectural details of the museum’s facade came up.” Strengthening the first idea with new concepts, he submitted a second proposal to an enthusiastic museum board that allowed him to launch the creative process with the help of a designer to build the structures, two software developers to drive all the LEDs, and from his longtime producer and partner, Squeaky Lobster.

“On the technical side, I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone by using not only image projection but custom systems as well, which took the shape of the 12 aluminium LED structures which are all driven by a custom software,“ he explains. “As we were a pretty small team, I really had to learn a lot of things about how LED work, spend hours soldering wires, and to work very closely with each member of the team to be sure I have a global vision of how the project is developing at any time during the process,” he adds.

Not content bringing the technicals to the next level, he also pushed the conceptual and aesthetic contents of his work, looking to move away from basic mapping tricks and even his minimalist aesthetic. Says Tardy, “We worked a lot with this idea of inner landscapes with Squeaky Lobster, using our own subjectivity as a guide for this project. I wanted something visually sharp and synthetic but warm at the same time, which could reflect this obsession I’ve been having for a while: what could be the middle ground between digital and physical, and is such kind of intermediate space even possible?” 

Check out a few more exclusive images below:

Click here to see more of Romain Tardy’s work.


An installation by Romain Tardy / /

Music: Squeaky Lobster

Software development: Hand Coded

Construction work: Studio Julien Carretero

A project commissioned by La Nuit des Images 2015 x Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland.


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