Ere De Repos, or Rest Era, was my second and last project in Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains. It was shown in Panorama 16, the finishing year exhibition there, in 2014. It is my first foray in the field of video games.
You can download and play it on itch.io here : http://dusty-medusa.itch.io/rest-era
You’d need Rapture3D User installed for the HTRF (spatialized audio) to work, and it’s not free. You can contact me if you want to use my license to try the game for a while. Or you can try it in simple stereo too.
: “Expérience tout aussi immersive mais exclusivement audio, Ere de repos plonge le spectateur aux rétines saturées dans un jeu vidéo dont on aurait supprimé les stimuli visuels. Muni d’un gamepad, il est invité à dériver à l’oreille et sans GPS, dans un paysage sonore cinématographique. «Le player redevient joueur», écrit l’auteur et musicien Constantin Dubois Choulik, laissant vagabonder son imagination, affranchie du scintillement des images précalculées et des scénarios préconçus.”
This is just a recording of one promenade in Ere de Repos’ world. In the installation, you are free to wander as you will.
Xavier Wielemans / Tiny Big Story (programming)
Raphaëlle Duquesnoy / Le Noize Maker (sound engineering)
Sébastien Cabour & Cyprien Quairiat (prototyping & testing)
Closing one’s eyes. A banal, everyday action, yet which gives us a doubly divine power.
To close your eyelids is, first of all, to destroy, instantly and without effort, the whole of the visible. It is to dash into the dark vault, to free yourself from the oppression induced by the maze of objects, letting it mortally ensnare us.
And it is, later, to allow the world to delicately re-emerge, this time as strictly audible. We then dive into a pure, sensuous and womb-like magma, protected a priori from anxiety. What appears constitutes the elementary humus of a child’s world, always begun afresh, always new.
What journey does a person go on when they close their eyes for good? What limbo, what ridges does he cross, what paradise does he reach, he who hangs on to consciousness, when he has already turned his back on the world, like a stone?
The technology of video games is used in Rest Era to create an aural territory in which the player moves around virtually, equipped with headphones and a gamepad. His only possibilities are moving and listening. All he has to guide him now is a howling wolf, a kind of common Cerberus, a bridge between two worlds, acting like an acoustic North Star.
Although shaken by its disconnection from the shimmer of the screen, consciousness deploys a new vitality here. The gamer becomes a Player again. He once again takes the risk and the joyous freedom of creating the rules while playing.
Rest Era uses Unity3D, a video game building software, linked with Rapture3D, a licensed binaural audio engine.
Unity3D enabled us to simply compose a sound map in a virtual space by placing objects broadcasting sounds around the player’s avatar. Most of them are playing looped sounds, some others are reacting to the player’s presence, some of them are following the player, or ever preceding him, or moving randomly in a certain set of predefined terms.
The player can only be able to find his way locally in the virtual space, by analysing what he is hearing in terms of psycho-acoustics. Rapture3D, the audio engine, processes the sound library in realtime by simulating HTRF effects, depending of the player’s movements.
A large library was built up out of studio musical experimentations, bruitages recordings, pre-recorded libraries, field recordings of workshops, voices recorded in studio for the project. These were then carefully selected, edited and mixed for the final integration in the « game ».
As the only possibility of interaction for the player here is movement, we built a specific controller from scratch, DIY electronics and parts from vintage SNES controllers. A wooden case was shaped via a digital milling machine.
The installation consisted of a black armchair, topping a wooden black boxy construction (including the technical elements of the stand-alone installation), turning its back to the passing visitor and facing the corner of a black wall. A faint green light, colored like 1980s monochrome computer screens, lights the scene with a gloomy mood.
The visitors are invited to sit, wear the headphones and use the controller to move around virtually. If they are to explore the virtual space extensively, they can potentially stay sat for tens of minutes. While doing so, they look eeringly still to the others, who can only see the top of the player’s head and sometimes his left hand.
Some filmed words about the making of this piece :