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Safe de Mélanie Courtinat
Digital
Work

2 min

Safe, by Mélanie Courtinat

Safe is an interactive installation focused on the viewer. In this piece boasting ethereal graphic design, the artist Mélanie Courtinat strikes a chord between an intimate, protective space and contemporary societal challenges.

© DR
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A quest for meaning

After a degree in literature, Mélanie Courtinat continued her studies in the field of interactive design at the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL). She focused her practice on the use of new media in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). In this same vein, she founded the studio Pastor/Placzek with Quentin Dubret in 2017, when she develops sensory experiments for events such as the VR Arles Festival or brands like Dolce & Gabbana. In After Eden (2017) and I Never promised you a garden (2018), the artist clashes a lush imaginary world with a sudden burst of virtual forms. Finally, in Ten Lands (2020), she perpetuates the epic music of Yatoni through an immersive video game.

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Time suspended

With its use of augmented reality, Safe recreates a protected, intimate space. A shelter in which the viewer’s body is momentarily untouchable, freed from material constraints and removed from the violence of the world. Halfway between the “checkpoint” of the video game – a space where the gamer can rest their avatar between two actions – and the concept of a “safe space”, the installation allows the viewer to change their perception of their body, in a kind of giant selfie. It’s a fun invitation to introspection and the reinvention of our self-acceptance.

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A committed piece

Though lockdown and the global pandemic have certainly been food for thought for Courtinat, Safe is strongly underpinned by a feminist sensibility already present in her early work (Intimate pockets, made at the ECAL in 2015). The title of the piece echoes the “safe space”, physical or virtual places where marginalised people can get together and take part in group activities without the fear of aggression. The use of this concept, made popular by LGBT+ communities and the feminist movement, gives Safe a unique resonance in modern society.

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Première at the Grand Palais

With I never promised you a garden, Courtinat achieved international recognition. Selected at the VR Arles Festival 2018 and programmed at the Tokyo Game Show (2018), the LVMH Pavilion at the Viva Technology fair in 2019 and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 2021, the piece has cemented the artist’s global reputation. The première for Safe should have took place in Paris as part of the “Palais augmenté” event in the Nave of the Grand Palais, in February 2021.

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The Institut français and the work

Safe by Mélanie Courtinat is presented on culturevr.fr, an Institut français platform which offers a panoramic view of cultural innovation in virtual reality.