Between the Lines (Protograph)

an interactive installation by
©2014 Laurent Mignonneau & Christa Sommerer
developed for Hermès, 2014
supported by Galerie Charlot, Paris


“Between the Lines (Protograph)” is an interactive art installation developed by media artists Laurent Mignonneau & Christa Sommerer in 2014 for the introduction of the new “Nautilus” pen by Hermès, 2014.

In this interactive installation users can handwrite any text or drawing on a piece of paper on the pedestal of the installation. These writings or drawings soon transform into living virtual beings.

When writing and drawing with the new Hermès Nautilus pen, the thoughts and inspirations of the visitors first become visible as traces on the real paper. But suddenly they transform into living virtual creatures. By writing or drawing whatever comes to their mind, users create forms that start to move around on the long paper roll. Their thoughts and inspirations become alive. Like magic, these drawings and writings suddenly transform in insects, jellyfish, radiolarians or abstract shapes.           

Words, signatures, or just scribbles, all drawings and designs lead to interesting forms. One does not need to be a good designer; anything results in a little creature.

All the visitors’ designs are analyzed by our specifically designed camera detection interface and software developed by Laurent Mignonneau. Each design is captured and then mirrored around the x- axis, so that a symmetrical shape is created. This form is then projected onto the paper roll inside the pedestal from underneath.           

The real drawings remain on the paper roll and the more visitors use the “Between the Lines (Protograph)” installation, the fuller the paper roll will become. By simply rolling the paper forward by hand, visitors can make space for more drawings.

A nice pile of paper with drawings and scribbles on it will float down at the back of the pedestal, showing how many visitors have already interacted with the installation and leaving a trace of previous engagement.           

“Between the Lines (Protograph)” reminds us of the primary forms of drawing and writings such as hieroglyphs or graffiti. The work celebrates the joy of creating simple forms through drawing and writing.

“Between the Lines/Protograph” is inspired by Experimental Literature, the works of The Vienna Group, Art & Language, Surrealism as well as the concept of Paul Éluard’s „physics of poetry“. “Between the Lines/Protograph” however aims to push these concepts further by creating a new form of „Living Poetry.“  It combines users interactions, handwriting and hand drawing with artificial life algorithms to promote a new form of open-ended generative poetry, a concept that Laurent Mignonneau and Christa Sommerer have developed since the early 1990ies in their interactive installations such as Life Spacies (1997-1999), Verbarium (1999), Life Writer (2006) and Escape (2012).