InterCommunication No.15 1996



A regular session programmed at the Louvre Auditorium called "l'Oeuvre en direct" involves detailed study of a significant item from the museum collection. The work of art selected for presentation by a specialist is brought to the Auditorium and filmed throughout the lecture: subtle camerawork ensures enlargement of detail, including delicate relief effects and disclosure of internal or usually concealed aspects of certain artefacts, displayed on a large screen for the Auditorium public. Images of the piece under discussion are complemented by additional visual material including photographs of related works and analytical data of scientific origin. Videoconferencing has allowed some presentations to be ensured in tandem with other museums. Thus, the Louvre's Tyszkiewicz statue (4th century B.C.) was confronted with the Metternich stele from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Poussin's two versions of L'Enl竣ement des Sabines, the older classical interpretation owned by the Metropolitan Museum and the more recent, baroque version by the Louvre, were likewise discussed and compared by specialists from the two museums, and Corneille Van Cl竣e's Polyph塾e from the Louvre was finally reconciled on screen with his beloved Galat仔, sculpted by Robert Le Lorrain and owned by the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

New imaging technologies are here used to enhance and disseminate knowledge of longstanding art works. Contrary to shared worlds recently pioneered by such remarkable tools as Masaaki Fukumoto's glove-free gesture-processing interface or Minoru Kobayashi's ClearBoard, which aim at homogenizing objects and persons in a seamless virtual flux, "l'Oeuvre en direct" deliberately plays on the impelling physical presence of an actual object. Screen-mediated images of the chosen work, and derived and related visuals, serve to offset its obdurate hereness as a tangible entity. Indeed, the viability of traditional museums depends on their constantly upholding the preeminence of physical art works, and new technologies in such museums are invariably integrated with a view to accentuating this preeminence.