China-France multi-sensory art show promotes sustainability
Published: Apr 28, 2024 11:06 PM
The multi-sensory art show, The Earth Journey: Breath with Our Living World,is open to the public in Beijing on April 30 and will last until October 20. Photo: Courtesy of China Dream Life Entertainment

The multi-sensory art show, The Earth Journey: Breath with Our Living World,is open to the public in Beijing on April 30 and will last until October 20. Photo: Courtesy of China Dream Life Entertainment

Jointly produced by cultural creative organizations of France and China, the opening ceremony of a multi-sensory art show called The Earth Journey: Breath with Our Living World has been launched in Beijing. 

Through immersive lighting effects and technological devices like stretched digital screens, the show offers the display of several video installations that uncovers how living species interact with ecological habitats in a variety of scenarios. 

Those habitats include ones like the tropical rain forests and grasslands. Aside from animals, audiences are also able to see how plants, fungus and microbes contribute to nature's biodiversity. 

Taking the 7 minutes and 30 seconds display Rainforest & Echolocation as an example, one can experience strolling through trees and branches in forests from the perspective of a bat. In another section the Grassland Bugs' Ballet, it exhibits the lives of insects including amplified footstep sound of ants and an enlarged scene showing dedicated bees collecting substances from flowers. 

Such visual images are magically complemented with olfactory elements that allow one to see the forest on screen while smelling its wet mossy scent, as well as hearing the insects murmur while smelling the fresh and sweet scents of grass and flowers. 

Gwenael Allan, chief creator of the project, told the Global Times that all such scents were inspired and captured by his team of the Sensory Odyssey Studio in France from real nature when visiting countries like Peru, France and Kenya. During the production process, the French team collaborated with a professional fragrance agency in China to come up with such sense designs. 

"All we want is to display living organisms to audiences, and hopefully such scenes can strike them with a realization about the significance of protecting nature and biodiversity," Allan told the Global Times. 

Allan's team has worked predominantly on filming and sculpting the creative idea through the whole show. The project also involves over 30 scientific research experts from The French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). The audio and visual facilities for the current Chinese exhibition are all supported by local technical companies. 

Cultural creative industry expert Yao Yu told the Global Times that such a "cross-cultural multi-sector collaboration" establishes a test field for cutting-edge cultural projects as such. 

"Behind the collaboration is Chinese and French creative workers' shared consensus to amplify art's strengths for influencing social awareness," Yao noted. 

"Although we have toured in other countries, but I must say that the sound design in China is the best, and we are surprised and grateful to know that the country's high technological developments have helped with art projects like this one," Allan noted. 

Prior to the 2024 Beijing stop, the exhibition has debuted in France, Singapore and Brazil since 2021. Allan told the Global Times that though the "nature" theme has never changed, the show's visual narratives in different countries were actually contextualized by their local environments. 

The Beijing show has an updated scenic design, to which a dead tree trunk collected in Beijing's suburban area has been incorporated as an installation, attempting to remind people about environmental sustainability. 

The show is one of the China-France cultural collaborations contributing to a series of activities for the year of 2024, a very special occasion for the two countries to mark the 60 years of their diplomatic relations. 

As a French creator who visited China numerous times, Allan told the Global Times that he saw an increased "passion" and "sophistication" of Chinese audiences toward international cultural and art projects. This has encouraged him to always seek collaborations with China, he said. 

He said that he was mostly intrigued by the "diversity" of Chinese cities. He finds that each Chinese city has its "unique identity" that embraces both the modern and traditional cultures as well as cultures of different roots. 

"The cultural exchanges between China and France started since ancient times," Allan told the Global Times. 

The exhibition is produced in China by China Dream Life Entertainment, and will end on October 20.