Art is More

Installation, VR
Information Perception

How can digital technology enhance the visitors’ understanding of the curatorial vision in an art exhibition?

Art is More – Colors in the Black

Organized by the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art (FGA) and the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the exhibition Noir, c’est noir? The Outrenoirs of Pierre Soulages features a strong experimental character.

The curatorial project creates the conditions for an innovative convergence of art and science. Together with the FGA, the EPFL+ECAL Lab and four other EPFL laboratories and startups put their research and technologies at the service of an original approach to the work of Pierre Soulages.

The strength of an art exhibition usually comes from the relationship between the artworks and the curatorial vision. This vision enlightens the works in a new way and sets them in a specific context to induce unique perceptions and meanings. However, observations in museums show that a wide range of museum audiences miss these links.

How then can we reinforce the understanding of the curatorial vision in museums? How can we move it beyond words to express it in an emotional, sensitive dimension? How can we induce stronger relationships between the visitors and the artworks themselves?

Art is More – Into the Black
Art is More – Into the Black
Art is More – Into the Black

As an introduction to the exhibition, the EPFL+ECAL Lab invites the public to engage through a virtual reality experience. Through quotes from the artist and contextual visuals, the public is drawn into the scenario.

Then, to help visitors perceive the rich experience of light in Pierre Soulages famous Outrenoirs paintings, the EPFL+ECAL Lab created an interactive installation showing the light coming from one Outrenoir, color by color, from red to violet.

Data was captured and analyzed in partnership with Gamaya, a startup company based at EPFL and the Signal Processing Lab 5. EPFL+ECAL Lab explored how to transform the data into an informative, but also sensitive and emotional expression. The interactive installation plays with a visualization of energy, interaction with materiality, and the light variation according to the visitors’ positioning — all in order to create a new relationship with Soulages’ paintings.

The concept includes a specific sequence for the visitors’ experience: first the digital installation that stimulates perception and expectation, and then the painting itself, without any distraction. With quantitative tests the lab thoroughly studied user impact with different configurations. By featuring a unique collection of different colors of light that animates an Outrenoir, this device creates a striking and evocative contrast that enables the public to approach the works without artifice.

The exhibition was open to the public between the 8 November 2016 and 23 April 2017.

Into the black


Nicolas Henchoz

Project Management & Design Lead

Tommaso Colombo

Research Assistant

Joëlle Aeschlimann

Engineering Lead

Delphine Ribes


Yves Kalberer

Product Design & Scenography

Nicolas Le Moigne

UX Psychology

Dr Andreas Sonderegger with assistance of Léonore Guiet-Pasquier




Nicolas Henchoz

Project Management

Tommaso Colombo

Design Lead & Scenography

Joëlle Aeschlimann

Engineering Lead & Development

Delphine Ribes




Luca Baldassarre, Manuel Cubero-Castan

Signal Processing Laboratory LTS5

Jean-Philippe Thiran

Egli Studio

Yann Mathys, Thibault Dussex

Atelier Héritier, Geneva

Pierre-Antoine Héritier


Photography Credits

© EPFL+ECAL Lab / Joël Tettamanti