Eau de jardin

(c)2004, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

interactive computer installation
developed for the HOUSE-OF-SHISEIDO, Tokyo


" Imagine a circular room, the dado below the wall molding entirely filled with a plane of water scattered with these plants, transparent screens sometimes green, sometimes mauve. The calm, silent, still waters reflecting the scattered flowers, the colors evanescent, with delicious nuances of a dream-like delicacy.“ Claude Monet


Nature, Transparency, Water, Reality/Virtuality /Reflection, Water Lillies, Vital Force


Inspired by Monet’s late “Water Lillies” paintings and their panoramic setting at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, we constructed a large 3–sided vaulted projection screen that builds a triptych. The wide horizontal screens mentally immerse the viewers into the virtual picture of the water garden.

“Eau de Jardin” Description

“Eau de Jardin” is an interactive installation which transports visitors into the imaginary world of virtual water gardens.
The image of “Eau de Jardin” consists of a triptych, a three-sided projection screen onto a 12 x 3 meters vaulted screen that creates an immersive and reflective virtual water garden.

8-10 glass amphorae hang from the ceiling of the room. Their form reminds to old Greek or Egyptian transport vessels. They are completely transparent and contain water plants such as lilies, lotus, bamboo, cypress and other aquatic plants. Through the glass we can also see the roots of these plants.


When visitors approach themselves towards the amphorae, the plants capture the visitors presence and use the occurring tensions to draw virtual water plants on the large projection screens. The virtual plants on the screen resemble the real aquatic plants in the amphorae.

The images of the virtual plants are reflected through a virtual water surface and a merging between virtual plant imagery and reflected plant images occurs.

The more visitors interact with the real plants the more the virtual scene of aquatic plants builds up on the screen and all changes in the users’ interactions are translated and interpreted. This leads to constantly new water garden images as their composition reflects the visitors’ amount of interaction with the real plants.


The virtual lake in “Eau de Jardin” becomes a mirror to the reality of virtuality. As Monet succeeded in creating two layers of virtuality by blurring the borders between “real” interpreted plant images and their reflected image in the water’s surface, “Eau de Jardin” tries to create several layers of virtuality by blurring the borders between real plants, virtual plants on the screen and their reflected virtual image in the virtual water’s surface.