L’Architecture du Paradis, 2000

L’Architecture Du Paradis is a spatialized installation involving a series of 5 video sequences projected onto four wide walls, whose projections are periodically interrupted by sound and light effects.

Leonardo Journal published L’Architecture du Paradis Artist Pages (p 33-34) Vol. 36, Issue 1 February 2003, MIT Press.

There are 3 main problematics involved:

1) The major archetypes that historically and mentally permeate the Western world, as successive counterpoints to dreams of happiness: the lost paradise (the Temple, in other words, the tomb, and Eden, the garden of Earthly Delights) or the promised land (the Celestial City: the ideal city, the egalitarian society, the great march of progress, the global planet of communication, etc.)

2) The notions of political transparency and access, or exclusion.

3) The status of the invisible.
The sequences depict five ideal cities. Their order of appearance is: Babylon, Jerusalem, Atlantis, New York, Paradise

The sound and light effects occur within the space in which the projections take place. They intermittently extract the spectator from his or her main attention to the moving images and bring him or her back to the very place in which he or she is standing. In other words, they bring him back from the narrative images to the location/situation in which they occur. During the projections, the viewer is a spectator; during the interruptions, he becomes a target.

Each video sequence is made from a series of images ranging from historic, archeologic and art documents, and X-rayed luggage, X-rayed vehicles, vehicle plans, plus : city maps and aerial views, architectural ground plans, elevations and sections, etc.

Each image changes, shifts or substitutes itself for the next one. The transformations are mixed with a sound creation whose source is the human voice (an alto and a soprano). The text is extracted from « Timaeus », by Plato, performed in American English. The five sequences follow each other and are projected on four different walls. They last from 1’20 to 4’30. The interruptions last from 10’’ to 20 seconds. The total duration is 11’40’’.


Sequence 1: Babylon (short excerpt)

Sequence 2: Jerusalem (short excerpt)

Sequence 3: Atlantis (short excerpt)

Sequence 4: New York (short excerpt)

Sequence 5: Paradise 1 (short excerpt)

Sequence 5: Paradise 2 (short excerpt)

Documentation for Effect 01 (test)

Documentation for Effect 03 (test)



Marie Sester
Concept and Direction

Thierry Fournier
Music composer and conductor

Heimann Systems
X-ray image technology

DownStream Digital

Voices : Armelle Orieux, mezzo-soprano; Laura Gordiani, alto; American texts read by Lyndee Mah; French texts read by Vanda Benes.

Special thanks to Kristy Edmunds of Pica, to Tim Larson of DownStream, and to Emmanuel Delloye, Cultural Attaché, French Consulate, San Francisco.

–Commissioned by PICA, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art ; AFAA, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Fonds Étant Donnés, the French – American Fund for Contemporary Art, New York ; and French Cultural Services, New York.

– Exhibited at PICA, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, in 2000.
– Exhibited at The Kitchen, New York, in 2004