Introduction to the Ipotêtu project: An Online Museum

The Ipotêtu Museum is an online virtual museum and a three-dimensional graphic analogy of the Pierre Emmanuel high school in Pau. It is a 1% public commission for Art. As art evolves with techniques and technologies, it was not inconsistent for the commissioner, the Conseil Départemental des Hautes-Pyrénées, to subscribe to the creation of a work that is located in the digital field. It is also in response to the innovative character of the school that the work was commissioned, as the high school has integrated digital production and distribution tools into its teaching to address pedagogical and creative issues. We were also invited to respond to an ambitious set of specifications that required us to design and produce a work for two years with the participation of high school pupils and teachers.

In order to respond to the scale and complexity of this public order, we have organized ourselves into a team. At the tender stage, the DING Collective joined forces with the artist Elsa Mazeau and the web designer and developer Sébastien Garciaz. Together, we invited three other artists to join us: Olivier Toulemonde, Fabrice Cotinat and Yu-Ting Su as well as the archaeologist Laurence Cornet. Maëva Changeur and Marina Bianchi followed one another to support the project as part of civic service missions set up within the college and in the workshop of the Collectif Ding. In this book and on the website ipotetu.com, you will find the texts of the two art theorists, Gunther Ludwig and Lucia Sagradini, who are developing new insights into the nature of the Museum and its works. 

The Ding collective and its administrative structure, the Adarum Association, took in charge the coordinating of the project in order to ensure the link between the sponsor, the beneficiary and the artistic team. We were responsible of keeping the accounts and of the efficient running of the project as a whole. The organization of the calendar of our interventions ,within the high school ,has not been without organizational complexities, eleven artistic practice workshops were held in 2017 and 2018, with different and adapted timeframes. The melting pot of these workshops have given birth to the materials that allowed the artists to produce 90 works and series of works in post-production time. 2D and 3D graphic objects, photographic objects, videos and sound, these works are now presented and activated in the interactive environment of the Online Museum.

The website created by Sébastien Garciaz is the showcase of the Musée d’Ipotêtu as well as its documentary support. You can find in texts and images, the contents of each of the workshops. It is preferable to be equipped with a recent computer and a good Internet connection to understand the Museum and its works in the best conditions as possible .As the Online Museum’s structural limitations in an unstable and mutant digital world, the technologies that guarantee it’s existence are also those that will make it obsolete. The sponsored work is dependent on its distribution medium and the evolution of the code of which it is made. Contractually linked to the 1% for Art, the site and its Museum may have to be shut down in 2029. 

To ensure the durability of the work and considering that the online museum is doomed to disappear due to its future obsolescence, we bequeathed it to the college in two mobile stations produced by the artist Christophe Clottes and equipped with PC and VR glasses (virtual reality). If you are in possession of this equipment, you may also live the immersive experience at home via the ipotetu.com website. 

Opening up a desire for art outside the school injunction seemed to us the essential condition for gaining the support of the students for the Ipotêtu project. To achieve this, we claimed the singularity of the art object, the experience and the practice of recycling and DIY. The participatory practice of art at the heart of the Ipotêtu project has stimulated the work of college students and their teachers with artists to create the Museum’s collection. Being the architectural replica of the college, the Museum project also had to invite  the students to play with their environment, but it is above all the contextual nature of the workshops that made it possible to understand the college, its buildings and its structure, as well as the life within it.

To produce digital artwork materials, the workshops have evolved with a formal language derived from the plastic, performative, visual and sound arts. Thanks to the prospective tools of our archaeologist partner, the project has opened up to a social analysis of the sites and their uses. 

Each of the artists, legatee of the objects built with the pupils, was responsible of finalizing one or more works in order to include them in the Museum’s digital spaces and structures. From technical compromises in creative back and forths with the developer, relevant synesthesias between sounds and images could emerge in the framework of the works. These were integrated into the Museum’s spaces according to interaction protocols authorized by the plasticity of the source code and the navigability principles borrowed from video games. If the systemic malleability of the Museum due to its digital invoice allowed graphic interpretations of the original building, its architecture, modeled on that of the high school, represents one of the constants of the project. In conclusion, the Museum could be defined as a post-architectural utopia and its collection as the carved out imprint of a living artistic process, marked by the passage of a generation of pupils. 

As masters of their performances, the pupils and their parents cordially granted us the right to use their images and voices. We warmly thank them for their trust, without mentioning  the members of the teaching and educational team and all the staff members of the Collège Pierre Emmanuel, without whom nothing would have been possible.

For the Ding Collective

Jean Paul Labro & Lyn Nékorimaté