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Boucle d’or et les 33 variations

The "Goldilocks and Thirty-Three Variations" project was awarded with the first international A.R.T.S. Prize launched in 2009 by the Atelier Arts Sciences.
With this call for projects, the Atelier has opened its doors to new artists and scientists already working together as a team on their joint research project.
Facing a large variety of technological projects, it was a poetic entry that came the closest to the jury’s heart, by opting for a research on soap film. This project, outside of research fields at CEA Grenoble, is proof of the scientists’ willingness to be exceptionally open-minded. The Atelier Arts Sciences is a breakthrough venture investigating interconnections between artists and scientists, and the A.R.T.S. Prize allowed a new way of surveying this relationship by inviting researchers from other countries as well as from other fields of research.
The laureates, Olivier Vallet, artist and scenographer, specialist in object theatre, and Patrice Ballet from UJF/CNRS, supported by several other French researchers, launched an experiment on soap film.


Boucle d’or et les trente-trois variations (Goldilocks and Thirty-Three Variations)
Project history by Olivier Vallet, founder of Les Rémouleurs company

" This tale has been in my head for several years mainly due to its plot : a little girl that we don’t know anything about, with no identifiable parents, age, role in life and no home, with hardly a nickname instead of a name arriving from nowhere and departing to the unknown without having done anything but try to find her place. Here you are, a one-of-a-kind story. A story that speaks well about our world where there are more and more people who are trying, just like Goldilocks, to find their place..."

But I had not known what to do with it, constrained by the number of possible viewpoints on this enigmatic adventure, until the idea of working on variations between ways of representation ; playing styles and techniques while trusting the text to a member of the oulipian literary movement (Workshop of Potential Literature), Jacques Jouet.
"Being primarily a puppeteer and shadow artist, I first considered manipulating the images in plain view using different techniques (shadows, catoptrics, magic lanterns), but for a long time, I have been interested in working on the image, not only on projection techniques.
When Véronique Bellegarde ordered a fog screen projection system for her show "L’Instrument à pression" (Pressure Instrument), it allowed me to inquire into fluid mechanics.
Having produced the fog screen, I read the book "Ce que disent les fluides" (What fluids say) by Etienne Guyon (Belin-Pour la science). I was fascinated by his photo of a soap curtain, which convinced me about its breakthrough plastic and theatrical effect on stage and I started to work on producing one. The result reflected my ignorance in this field, so I contacted Etienne Guyon as well as Sylvain Lefavrais at the Palais de la découverte for some advice and I learned that a 18 metre high soap curtain had been created a few years before that.

"Some time later, I received two E-mails the same day, both giving me the name of François Graner as the best person to advise me. Thanks to his valuable comments I got back to work and finally obtained some results. I became completely fascinated by this thin film, soft and ever-changing, continuously pierced by iridescence. A first prototype, developed in the workshop of Les Rémouleurs company, despite its amateur appearance, with some added improvements due to my puppeteer background (multiplying liquid supply points enabling the formation of larger and more stable curtains), convinced François Graner about my determination to carry on.
"I knew what I wanted to obtain : a stable soap film, with a maximum width, to be used on stage and to be tinted so as to be non-transparent. We can therefore play from time to time with the transparency and iridescence of a fluid and fluctuating veil and have a screen that can be easily distorted by simply blowing on it, or by inserting a wet hand into it without breaking it, or a screen that you can suddenly make disappear by piercing it.
"This cannot be realised without the scientists’ assistance, without their knowledge, techniques and methodology.
Artist/scientist collaboration proves to be its best in this type of project. Apart from this performance, there is the fact that the cinematography device elaborated in 1895 (an image projected perpendicularly on the screen, being a smooth, white, non-transparent and immovable surface from a source behind the audience and hidden from their eyes) has been wearing out. Since the film industry is in a digital-based 3D fever, live theatre can also open new paths and seek more poetic systems."

Olivier Vallet

To learn about the dates of the "Boucle d’or et les trente-trois variations" tours, click here

The research residency

"Boucle d’or et les trente-trois variations" (Goldilocks and Thirty-Three Variations) is a production by Les Rémouleurs, theatre company in residency at Saint-Fargeau-Ponthierry and at the Atelier Arts Sciences (CEA-Grenoble and Hexagone Scène Nationale Arts Sciences - Meylan).

The residency at the Atelier Arts Sciences meant setting up working sessions in Grenoble at the premises of the Atelier, at CEA laboratories or at Hexagone, associating several CEA-Grenoble researchers.
This collaborative research activity was assisted by the Atelier Arts-Sciences team throughout 2010.
Every single residency shows a different set up and follows a different process according to the artistic and scientific content of the project.
An epistemological follow-up was also put in place. The evolution and the results of these research activities are presented in the "Cahiers de l’Atelier" Cahiers de l’atelier published at the end of the residency.

The stage production, being the outcome of the residency, was presented at Hexagone Scène Nationale Arts Sciences - Meylan in the autumn of 2010.

Le spectacle issu de cette résidence a été accueilli à l’Hexagone Scène Nationale Arts Sciences - Meylan à l’automne 2010.

Soap film

By "soap film", we mean the object created by a liquid (water and surfactant) that flows between several wires (not a bubble). These wires can be manipulated therefore changing the screen’s location and form, the film itself being able to be deformed by a simple breath. Moreover, the liquid can be made opaque by the addition of dyes in aqueous phase, if one wishes to stop using the film as a flexible and moving mirror in order to transform it into a malleable screen.

Based on the results described in the Annex of the article "Giant soap curtains for public presentations" by François Graner and Patrice Ballet (European Journal of Physics. 2006), and with their help, our goal is to create an original stage element ready for touring. To do this, we intend to work jointly, not with an artist who prescribes and a scientist/technician who perform to their the best, but in collaboration, where everyone could be source of innovative ideas. After all, our job as a puppeteer is basically manipulating material to instigate emotion. It can be regarded as a form of a naive, primitive and empirical way of doing physics...

Artistic and scientific team
  • Artists

Jacques Jouet
Jacques Jouet
Oulipo (Workshop of Potential Literature) member since 1983. His first contact with Oulipo was a writing workshop convened by Fournel, Georges Perec and Jacques Roubaud in 1978. Novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist and graphic artist, Jacques Jouet, along with François Caradec, Paul Fournel and Hervé Le Tellier, participates in the radio show called "Papous dans la tête" on France Culture. His series, "La république de Mek Ouyes" was aired on France Culture and on his editor, P.O.L.’s website simultaneously. It is published by P.O.L. at Castor astral. Two of his last plays were played at the Théâtre des Amandiers, Nanterre, and a rich bibliography can be consulted at the Oulipo website.

Anne Bitran - Stage Director
Actress and puppeteer, with Olivier Vallet co-founder of the Rémouleurs Company in 1983, Anne Bitran creates, manipulates and gives her voice to her puppets. Her puppet shows, "Peter and the Wolf", "Chaosmos", "Ginette Guirolle", "Adam’s Nombril", "Lubie", "Hulul", "Lubie", "Machina Memorialis", "Nouveau Spectacle Extraordinaire" were shown at numerous puppet festivals in France and abroad. Her show called "Ginette Guirolle", bar puppet show, opened the door for her shows towards numerous cultural institutes : several National Theatre Centres (Montpellier La Commune - Aubervilliers, Nanterre-Amandiers, Besançon, Vire, Lille-Le Grand Bleu) and various Scène nationales. Her work stands out by the exquisite relationship she builds between music and image. In her shows, music never just accompanies an image, but acts as one of its sources.

Olivier Vallet - Shadow performer, actor, special effect designer (shadows and projections)
Fascinated by light, Olivier Vallet has been working for about ten years on renewing the language of animated image in theatre by applying new ways of expression stemming from ancient projecting techniques.
His inventions were awarded on three occasions by the "Lumière Prize" at the Louis Jouvet Trophy Ceremony (in 1998 for the concept of an articulated GOBO, in 2000 for the Cyclope, an episcope allowing to project animated images in colour of massive objects, and in 2002 for designing a 3-D effect projecting system based on soft mirrors).
Beside his contribution to the shows by Les Rémouleurs company, (shadow conception and projection instrument design for "Lubie", "Hulul", "Adam’s Nombril", lighting for "Ginette Guirolle") he participates in various theatre performances centered around light, shadows and projection.
He has also been involved in visual shows, and has designed optical machines for several museums.

Jehanne Carillon - Assistant Director
Actress and singer, shared training with Elizabeth Chailloux and Adel Hakim, worked with Rene Loyon, Jacques Jouet, Catherine Daste, Christian Germain and Anne Bitran. She was also an assistant to Rene Loyon, Stage Director, and is currently directing "Annette entre deux pays" (Annette between two countries) by Jacques Jouet and is directing the reading performance, "Lundis de l’OULIPO" (OULIPO Mondays) ("Ouvroir Potential Literature"/Workshop on Potential Literature) at the Theâtre de Rond-Point, Paris.

Bénédicte Ober - Actress
She takes her first steps as an actress in Marseille with various stage directors (Matthieu Cipriani, Nanouck Broche...) At the same time, in association with another actress and a jazz musician, she is the founder of the theatre company called "je sais bien mais quand même" working on contemporary texts and producing three workshop-performances. It is with Les Rémouleurs company that she discovers, tries and manipulates puppets. She is fascinated by the distance puppets allow between the character and the actor and by the sensation of freedom they give. Another fascinating aspect : the music, inseparable from the Rémouler’s approach and from her own personal quest. Beside the three performances in which she has been involved, "Adam’s Nombril", "Hulul" and "Lubie", she keeps working as an actress.

Jeanne Bleuse - Piano
Born on 3 September 1982, she started piano studies at the Boulogne Conservatory of Music at the age of six. She continued her training in Toulouse with Véronique Grange. Admitted to Marie-Paule Siruguet’s class in September 2000 and is unanimously awarded the first prize at the Boulogne Conservatory. She has also worked with Marie-Joseph Jude and Jean-François Heisser. In December 2001, she was invited to play the Double Concerto with violin and strings from J. Haydn with Gilles Colliard, violinist. During the academic year 2002/2003 she enrolled in a one-year proficiency course in Nana Dimitriadi’s class at the Georgia Music Conservatory in Tbilisi. In February 2003, she played the Triple Concerto from Beethoven with her two brothers at the la Halle aux Grains de Toulouse. Currently she is working in Denis Pascal’s class, and in the field of chamber music with Eric Lesage and Paul Meyer at the Paris Conservatory.

Alain Juteau - Scenographer, Set Designer
Fascinated since his childhood by dug-up bones, hair, feather, rusted nails, baked leather, furrowed wood and all sorts of other natural materials loaded with life and death, Alain Juteau has committed himself to perpetrate an ancestral art, the art of totems and fetishes. He endeavours to extend his presence among us. Designer, manufacturer of accessories for film or theatre, Alain Juteau escapes the constraints and prerequisites of the profession by enhancing his activity in a very inspired production. His world is thereby populated with very strange creatures, coming from a shaman-like pantheon. It is a world tour in a cabin of curiosity taking us back to our origins.

  • Scientists

François Graner
Born on 21 July 1966 in Cambridge, United States.

- 2008 : CNRS and Institut Curie, Paris : Morphogenesis of Drosophila Tissues.
- 1994-2008 : CNRS, Laboratory of Physical Spectrometry, Grenoble : Structure and dynamics of phospholipidic bilayer soap foams.
- 1992-1994 : Professor and researcher (preparing candidates for "agrégation"), F Gallet’s team : Phospholipid monolayers.
- 1990-1992 : Post-doctoral, Sawda Laboratory, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan : cell sorting and regeneration in fresh-water hydra.
- 1987-1990 : PhD Thesis, ENS Paris and Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, research directors : S. Balibar, P. Nozières, Dynamic interface and quantum excitations in helium 3 crystals.

Scientific activity :
67 original articles (published in refereed international scientific journals, theory and simulation.)

Fields of statistical physics, soft matter, biophysics :

  • numerous conference talks,
  • close to one hundred seminar invitations,
  • organising conferences and workshops
  • supervising : forty or more supervised or co-supervised students, including ten PhD candidates and two post-doctoral students,
  • over twenty PhD thesis juries and two habilitation ones, referee for a dozen international journals, juries of competitive exams and internships,
  • popularization : radio, museum exhibitions, articles, column in La Recherche (57 articles), Fêtes de la Science, schools, middle schools, participating in DVDs, World Year of Physics, general public conferences, art and science shows, science cafés, short film scenario and production,
  • teaching : preparing for agrégation (Paris, Grenoble), DEA (1st year of PhD studies) and Master’s 2 courses, organizing a school, student conferences, participating in TIPE (competitive exams preparatory course), author of three books, editor of one book, co-author of a book in preparation.

Patrice Ballet
Born on 24 November 1956 in Auxerre (Yonne, France)

Career :
- Since 1999 :
Physical Spectrometry Laboratory in Saint-Martin-d’Hères (38).
Research Engineer
Design, development and application of measurement/characterization systems.
Software development for data acquisition and control.
Mechanical units production. Machining. External technical collaborations :
Public presentations...
Technical documentation writing. Assistance to the computer network administration.
Managing interns.
Non-contractual technical university teacher at I.U.T.

- 1992-1998 : Established his own company.
Engineering service provider. Research, application, assembly for microelectronics and optics. Sub-contractor for Centre National d’Etude des Télécommunications (80 %). Sub-contractor for various companies in the region (20%).
1988-1992 : Centre national d’étude des télécommunications in Meylan (38)
Senior technician. Département Recherches Physiques et Technologiques. Design and development of microelectronic systems : Ellipsometers, interferometer, nano-injector, micro machining by laser.
Associated software development.
Metrology measurements in a clean room. Conducted integrated circuits functional tests.
- 1981-1988 : Thomson Semiconductors in Saint-Egrève (38).
Senior technician. Research & Development Department. Conducted and made operational manufacturing equipment in clean rooms.
In charge of the "Dry and wet etching" sectors of the department. In charge of the electronic microscope in the department.
Silicon metrology. Monitoring of technological procedures and stabilization of manufacturing processes. Microlithography on silicon for the Special Circuits Division. Supervised five operators.

Education :
1998 : Skills Certificate from CNAM as networked machines administrator.
1981 : DEUG A (Sciences & Material Structure 1st year).
1978 : DUT in Physics Measurements

Publications :
Quoted in numerous publications and co-author of five publications :
P. Ballet, F. Graner. (2006). "Giant soap curtains for public presentations". European Journal of Physics 27. 951-967.
P. Ballet, F. Graner. (2005). "Un film de savon géant". Revue du Palais de la découverte. 332.
M. Bienia, F. Mugele, C. Quilliet, P. Ballet. (2004). "Droplets profiles and wetting transitions in electric field".
Physica A 339. 72-79 .
P. Paniez, I. Mortini, P. Ballet. (1998). "Study of bake mechanisms by real time in situ ellipsometry". Annual International Symposium on Microlithography 23.
A. Vareille, A. Schiltz, P. Ballet, J.C. Hauüy, L. Thévenot. (1995). "Interferometric micropositioning in the planar chip insertion". Microelectronics International. 36. 19-21.