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Optic Rrose

A generative projection mapping piece with Duchamp and Virgil.

produced by: Jérémie Wenger


This piece is composed of a series of scenes intertwining texts, images and generative figures. The overall arch comprises a build-up and climax roughly in the middle of the piece, followed by a pause and a second crescendo toward a more balanced, less intense second 'state' toward the end of the piece. The attentive viewer will notice serveral figures, pictures of Marcel Duchamp, and recognize a famous classical quote among the quips and profanities to be read in the animated texts.

Concept and background research

The two main inspirations for the piece are Marcel Duchamp and Virgil (an unlikely, and unforeseen, encounter).

I discovered Marcel Duchamp's Rotoreliefs (also to be found in the silent film Anémic Cinéma, signed under Duchamp's pseudonym 'Rrose Sélavy', his female persona) relatively recently, while searching for inspiration for the generative part of my piece. These superposed circles proved a good grounds of exploration for computational recursion, and their original author a most photogenic source of portraits. Indeed, these pictures, some devilish, some grumpy, some heroic or erotic, act as presences reinforcing the meaning of the words, or trigger events within the piece (just as flashes of a few of the Rotoreliefs themselves, very briefly, can be seen at the onset).

The other head of that bicephalous composition is a famous quote from Virgil's Aeneid (Book VII: 312), here present in the original Latin, 'Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo' ('If the heavens I cannot bend, I shall move the Acheron'), best known today as the dedication of Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams, and can serve a statement of intent on various levels, existential, artistic, etc., whilst being tempered by some snarky comments and an all too famous vulgar expletive infix.

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The major technical challenges of the piece were in programming the 'rroses', the rotating objects we see in the middle end end of the piece, and which use recursion as well as, for the spiral-shaped one, the equation of a spiral to position the centres of the circles. The exploration of these objects led me to discover and play with acceleration, as it creates phases and 'slow' movement effects when one of these starts rotating ever faster (as is demonstrated in the middle of the piece).

Another major hurdle, which is less intellectually stimulating, was the management of scenes and temporality using the JSON and XML files, especially as text is programmed to be read one letter at a time in circles: both the begining (requiring a reset) and the end (requiring a careful estimation of the length required) of each scenes involving text has to be carefully prepared.  


Marcel Duchamp, Rotoreliefs, 1935.
Marcel Duchamp/Rrose Sélavy, Anémic Cinéma, Paris, 1926.
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, Oxford World's Classics, OUP, 2008.
Virgil, Opera, Ed. Sir Roger Mynor, Oxford Classical Texts, OUP, 1969.

Logarithmic Spiral on Wikipedia