Where Art Meets Science

Last month the Swiss Touch table made the next stop on its tour of the U.S.: under the swissnex Dome at HUBweek in Boston.

HUBweek is the “festival for the future,” bringing together tens of thousands of people for discussions, presentations, workshops, and entertainment. It was founded in 2014 by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

This civic collaboration brings together the most creative and inventive minds making an impact on art, science, and technology to support and strengthen the local innovation ecosystem — and to connect people from Boston and abroad.

In conjunction with the festival, swissnex Boston erected the swissnex Dome on the HUB (the festival’s central location) on the Boston City Hall plaza. The swissnex Dome permits a 360° visualization of images and sounds, taking the audience on a unique, fully immersive experience. At HUBweek, it hosted Swiss, American, and Canadian programming such as full-dome projections, digital performances, cosmic yoga sessions, panel discussions, and workshops.

Over four days of programming, the swissnex Dome served as a communal platform for intercultural exchange: Swiss artists joined their U.S. and Canadian counterparts to discuss immersion and future technologies.

Two of the events showcased the Swiss Touch table. The first was a VIP preview event on the evening before the Dome’s public opening. Christian Simm, the CEO of swissnex Boston, introduced the table’s features and its digital capabilities, described its current tour across the U.S., and the efforts aimed at leveraging traditional images of Switzerland while reintroducing the country as an innovative and forward-thinking partner in the global community. Afterward, attendees tried out the Swiss Touch table for themselves. The audience was then dazzled with demos of swissnex Dome programming.

The second event, “Exploring Digital Utopia,” gathered together artists, technicians, and industry experts around the Swiss Touch table to discuss some of the cutting-edge uses of the Dome-as-viewing platform, immersive realities, and the exploration of the notion of digital utopia. The panelists included:

  • Paola Gazzani Marinelli, head of Digital and Professional Programs at the Geneva International Film Festival and board member of Le D.I.X, a new exhibition space dedicated to digital art in Geneva
  • François Moncarey, multidisciplinary artist and cofounder of MySquare, a digital interactive and performative studio based in Geneva
  • Sophie Le Meillour, visual and interdisciplinary artist exploring the multiple facets of the image through drawings, photographs, videos and installations based in Geneva
  • Fabrice Starzinskas, founder of Rosettta, a Paris-based initiative focused on global creative sustainability which operates at the crossroads between strategy, innovation and creativity
  • Patrick Pomerleau, co-owner and project manager at NEST Immersion, a collective of 3D artists and motion graphics designers creating experiences for immersive environments based in Montreal
  • Moderated by: David G. Rabkin, Boston-based artist innovator and former director of the Charles Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Science Boston

Cécile Vulliemin, project leader for art/science programs at swissnex Boston, was responsible for bringing the swissnex Dome to HUBweek and coordinated all the programming for it. “The aim of the Swiss Touch campaign is to gather people together, and its impact was emphasized here at HUBweek,” she said. “The Dome acted as a catalyzer for an exchange of ideas and new encounters, in a collaborative and inclusive way: the audience, aged 2 to 80, was invited to enter a different universe — relaxing, lying down on pillows, to forget daily life and to let themselves be immersed in the digital creations made by talented international artists for a short moment. That is the power of digital art — and the reactions of the crowd were compelling!”

The screenings of Swiss films selected for the Call for Swiss Full-Dome Film Projects, in partnership with the Geneva International Film Festival, MySquare, and Le D.I.X — creative space and the City of Geneva, were another highlight. Ten full-dome films were selected and screened. The winner was Apoptose by Sophie Le Meillour and Fabrice Starzinskas, with sound design by Juan Pablo Espinoza and Hervé Moire.

Under the swissnex Dome,a series of short films presented in partnership with the Charles Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Science Boston, was also screened, featuring the museum’s storytelling series “Stories Under the Stars.”

The event also served as the occasion for the world premiere of “Disorder 3D,” a live performance of linked dance, full-dome graphics, and music performed by François Moncarey, Kevin Ramseier and Thomas Köppel from the Centre d’expression numérique et corporelle Genève.