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A unique sonic technology, Made in France, is hidden behind the monumental new artistic work revealed by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, on November 11, 2020 at the Panthéon, in Paris.
Within the scope of the Armistice Day commemorations, French author Maurice Genevoix – who wrote the tetralogy Ceux de 14 (The Men of 1914) – enters the Panthéon.
For the celebration, the President of the French Republic commissioned a work from two major figures of the contemporary art scene, the German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer, and the French composer Pascal Dusapin. This is the first public commission for the Panthéon since 1923.
But which technologies are hidden behind this immersive work, created by Pascal Dusapin?
In order to bring a more intimate human connection with the Great War into the Panthéon, nearly 15,000 representative names of soldiers who died for France have also been read and recorded by the French actors Florence Darel and Xavier Gallais. Visitors to the Pantheon will hear names spoken as they walk through different parts of the space.
“I wanted to make the stones of the Pantheon sing, to create a huge ‘vocal lung’ where everyone will hear different echoes of its past and of its history,” says Pascal Dusapin.
A bespoke and unique sonic system has been designed and installed within the Panthéon. A total of 70 loudspeakers, designed and manufactured by French company Amadeus, have been installed around the transepts and at the dome-ground, over 35 meters high. The speakers, being coated in natural stone, have been made invisible, becoming an integral part of the monument.
This electroacoustic system is controlled by a sound spatialization processor, called HOLOPHONIX.
“The HOLOPHONIX processor enables the sound spatialization of the different choirs through its various on-board algorithms, in two or three dimensions,” says Thierry Coduys, Director of Technologies for the project, and collaborator of Pascal Dusapin for many years.
“The spatial programming, the position of the choirs, their trajectory, as well as the other events that compose this ‘electroacoustic score’ are managed through a graphic computer sequencer, called IanniX. The HOLOPHONIX processor receives, interprets and translates these millions of temporal and spatial messages to make them perceptive,” adds Thierry Coduys.
Designed by Amadeus, in collaboration with IRCAM Institute, the HOLOPHONIX immersive sound system has also been selected by several performance venues, many among the most famous and prestigious in France, including Comédie-Française, Chaillot National Théâtre, and La Scala (Paris).
The HOLOPHONIX processor includes algorithms and technological designs from the STMS (Sciences et Technologies de la Musique et du Son), a laboratory founded in 1995, affiliating the CNRS, Sorbonne Université, French Ministry of Culture, and IRCAM Institute.