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

Olivier Vallet


"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.


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...