By Villa Albertine New Media Team: Camille Jeanjean & Louise Seban
The second largest metropolitan area and third largest city in France, Lyon is now famous for its modern neighborhoods (La Croix Rousse, Confluences) that once hosted factories. Now a hub for the development of new media in France, the city has a lot to offer to those who love, learn and create in the digital and artistic fields.
Known for being the cradle of cinema, where the Lumière Brothers shot their first short film (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, 1895), Lyon is also the third largest city in France, featuring many top research centers and schools in biotech, chemistry, new technologies and fashion. Each year, a flow of young students and creators settle in its artsy and modern neighborhoods (La Croix Rousse, Confluences), confirming that Lyon has now become one of the hubs for the development of new media in France. Both private and public colleges offer educational trainings in the digital field, from the creation of video games (Lyon 1 University, Game Sup Lyon) to the experimentation of new technologies in performing arts (ENSATT).
Lyon is also one of the “French Tech Capitals”, a label that acknowledges the dynamism of its local startups. In the region of Lyon, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the AI field now gathers more than 176 companies.
Several studios have chosen to set their activities in Lyon, following its hundred-year-old history of audiovisual creation.
One of them, Albyon – created by media company Atlas V in 2020 – specializes in the creation of VR experiences and video games. Its most famous projects include VR experiences Battlescar and Madrid noir as well as Glimpse, which won the VeeR Award – Best VR Interactive Experience – at Cannes XR 2022. The studio recently announced that a new VR game “Wallace and Gromit”, based on the eponymous cartoon, will be released in 2023.
The lesser known studio Ryseup – launched in 2014 – creates both traditional and VR video games, such as Roboquest – playable on Xbox – and the arcade Burning Descent, available on Springboard VR.
The second largest metropolitan area of the country, Lyon offers opportunities in its greater area. Pole Pixel – a space dedicated to audiovisual and digital creation based in Villeurbanne – will welcome the European Creators’ Lab (EUCL) in June for a 5-day workshop. Gathering participants from all over Europe and worldwide, the EUC’s Lab aimsat creating new spaces to learn, share and develop the European ecosystem of immersive storytelling”.
DIGITAL DANCE, DIGITAL ART
In the early 1980s, the French government started decentralizing its activities, thus encouraging the development of cultural institutions outside of Paris. Though already quite dynamic, Lyon, with its many vacant factories, became a haven for theaters, museums and art centers.
One of them, the Musée des Confluences, which opened nearly 10 years ago, often displays its natural history and sciences collections through immersive installations. The current exhibition, entitled “Nous les fleuves” (Us, Rivers) revolves around an immersive scenography that narrates the history of rivers across the world.
The MAC – Museum of Contemporary Art – that hosts the Contemporary Art Biennale, often puts the spotlight on new technologies in the art field. The upcoming exhibitions Incarnations, opening from Feb 24th to July 9th, will explore the role of bodies in contemporary art. In the meantime, video installation Interfears, by Danish artist Jesper Just, will present the emotional topography of actor Matt Dillon, captured by an MRI scanner during a soliloquy.
In 2022, several digital creators presented their artworks at the Contemporary Art Biennale. One of them, the COLLECTIF CAPSULE (Antonin Dony, Eve Martin, Arsène Prat and Valentin Vennesson) created an immersive installation “Présences futures”, exploring the construction of time and space.
For the first time in 2018, the renowned Lyon Dance Biennale put the spotlight on VR in performing arts (Cris Blanco’s El Agitador Vortex, Gilles Jobin’s VR_1). The 2023 edition will feature several performance artists that explore the many possibilities of digital creation, including dance group A/R, scenographer and digital artist Pierre Giner as well as video maker Irvin Anneix.
THE THEATRE NOUVELLE GENERATION: PROMOTING DIGITAL CREATION ON STAGE
Home of the antique Lugdunum theater, Lyon is also an ideal stage for the creation of challenging performances. The renowned Théâtre Nouvelle Génération, created in 2004, has launched several Research and Creation programs, among which “Chimères”, created in 2018. This program aims at supporting artistic projects that explore the possibilities of digital creation in performing arts. In 2023, “No reality now” a dance performance mixed with a VR device created by Charles Ayat and Vincent Dupont, will be presented at the Dance Biennale: “We came to the idea that VR headsets weren’t glued to the spectators’ heads and could be used as opera glasses” (Vincent Dupont explaining No reality now).
THE FETE DES LUMIERES: ILLUMINATING WITH DIGITAL ART
Each year, Lyon also welcomes more than two million visitors for the Fête des Lumières, a series of performances and installations based on light. By connecting tradition – the Fête originally pays tribute to the Virgin Mary – with contemporary art projects, the Fête des Lumières is an ideal stage for the experimentation of new techs in arts. In 2022, it gathered connected installations (Eikosis), immersive experiences (Unicode 光 3D, The Shape of Things to Come) as well as data-based projections of light (Agorythm, created by VR studio Onionlab).
Located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, a gate to both the North and South of the country, Lyon offers opportunities for whoever wants to create. The digital and artistic fields surely have a bright future ahead in this “Capital of the Gauls”!
Stay tuned, our next episode of #DIGITALCITIES is coming soon!