The Sillages project

The Sillages project

"How can we bring to life geological processes unfolding on time and space scales beyond human perception? Anne-Magali transforms and then studies extra-thin pieces of rock on a nanometric scale to re-enacts intense disturbances of the past in the laboratory and interpret past movements of matter. Etienne re-enacts the slow movements of the world in graphic and scenic performances, to get closer to the moving logic of matter. Our aim is to bring these scientific and artistic approaches together in co-constructed research and performances, to set in motion the frozen landscapes of geology, and the overly compartmentalized representations of the scientific and artistic worlds. By renewing the imagination of science, and highlighting local human, geological and technological resources, we hope to contribute to the attractiveness of our region and our industries."

Anne-Magali Seydoux-Guillaume is a mineralogist and microscopist, and is interested in the transformations of minerals in response to various processes, long (geological scale) or very fast (femto-second), at the nanoscale. She is also interested in perturbations in the recording of time measured in these same minerals. She approaches problems through two complementary approaches: laboratory experimentation and the study of natural systems.

Etienne Pageault is a visual artist and dancer. He frequently works in teams with partners in the scientific and/or technical fields, approaching visual and performance arts as territories conducive to the reunion of modes of thought, temporalities and complementary representation.

Beneath the surface: science and art

The natural sciences and art sometimes share a common desire to apprehend reality beyond the appearances and temporalities of everyday life. During our meeting, we were struck by the extent to which our research on time and matter converges, both in their subject matter and in their experimental method.

By making extra-thin rock slices (< 100 nm) and using high-resolution transmission electron microscopic (TEM) imaging, Anne-Magali Seydoux-Guillaume is interested in transformations in response to various processes (deformation, radioactivity, alteration, etc.) and in the recording of time in minerals. In particular, she reproduces in the laboratory the extreme conditions that have disturbed the atomic structure of rocks  using laser.

For his part, Etienne Pageault works on the flows and structuring of the material by means of mineral fillers (salts, sands, powders and pigments) set in motion using air (blowers, compressors) and water instruments. He reproduces, in an approach comparable to that of Anne-Magali, the environmental conditions leading to the drawing of rocks and landscapes (deposits, erosion, alluvium, agglomerates, etc.).

Working on the imagination :

In the continuation of the project initiated with the Rhône-Alpes Institute of Complex Systems (IXXI) since 2023, we wish to combine our scientific and artistic experimental approaches to address these questions through co-constructed research and performances, aimed at various audiences. We wish to work from scientific material (data, representations, microscopic imaging, field samples, rock slides and dust, local mineralogical collections, etc.) ...) by combining it with a thought of movement in optical, graphic and performative devices. In this way, we hope to develop the imaginary associated with the geological sciences in a staging of its sensitive contents, a renewal of its representations and a spotlight on its actors. This will make it possible, among other things, to reach audiences different from those usually reached by classical scientific popularization, by accessing knowledge through the field of the sensitive and the emotional (literally: setting in motion).

Maintaining this trans-disciplinary vocation, we wish to perform in spaces and events dedicated to science as well as art, as well as in contexts on the margins of traditional cultural mediation (schools, friendships, community centres) by adjusting the devices to the constraints of these spaces. We also plan to export (and/or produce) part of these facilities to Katowice, a Polish city with an industrial past echoing the Saint-Etienne basin, which will be European Capital of Science in 2024 and with which the university is already a partner (twinning of the "Transform4Europe" program).