The Dawn of Art, by Pierre Zandrowicz
The Dawn of Art (2020) is a virtual reality experience directed by Pierre Zandrowicz. This cinematic, immersive and poetic experience allows the user to set out to see the paintings in the Chauvet Cave (Ardèche), which has been closed to the public since its discovery in 1994.
From I Philip to the Dawn of Art
The Dawn of Art was directed by Pierre Zandrowicz. This pioneer in immersive audiovisual creation is a fan of new narrations, a scriptwriter, producer and director, and has put his name to some of the biggest successes in virtual reality. In 2016, he directed his first fiction film in VR, I Philip, which was awarded 5 prizes and was selected in more than 25 festivals. Since then, with his production company Atlas V, he has produced Ayahuasca (2019) by Jan Kounen or Gloomy Eyes (2020) by Fernando Maldonado and Jorge Tereso.
Discovering cave paintings
After having put on a virtual reality headset, and picked up a burning torch that materialises using the controller provided with the headset, the virtual visitor starts the experience around a campfire. Then, the scene disappears in a cloud of ash, propelling the virtual visitor inside the Chauvet Cave. A female voice – Daisy Ridley for the English version – delivers a poetic account, all while revealing each of the paintings in the cave. Lasting 9 minutes, the experience gives the possibility of interacting with the decor and getting up close to the cave paintings. This immersive project also includes a YouTube 360° version, as well as a mobile app in augmented reality, “Pocket Gallery”, which enables going further in discovering cave paintings.
Making the cave accessible
Google Arts & Culture was approached by the Syndicat Mixte de la grotte Chauvet (the Chauvet cave Mixed Association) to “share a Cave that’s invisible so it can be preserved which houses humanity’s first work of art”, said Pascal Terrasse, president of the Syndicat. The data collected from the cave since 2006 via laser digitisation and photogrammetric data were given to Google as part of the project. Google gave VR experience director Pierre Zandrowicz carte blanche for the production, so long as it “be more cinematic than institutional”.
Since the virtual reality experience was launched in February 2020 at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, it has won a prize at the VR Awards 2020 in the category “VR Experience of the Year” and will be presented at the Kaohsiung Film Festival in Taiwan this autumn. Daisy Ridley, the actress who plays Rey in the final Star Wars trilogy, lends her voice to the English version, with Cécile de France (The New Pope) voicing the French version.
This work is also part of Culture VR: la sélection, a varied offering that showcases the best of French creation in virtual reality intended for distribution within the facilities of the French cultural network abroad or its partners.