Recto VRso @Vancouver, art that defies the norm and redefines how creative works are made and experienced in our digital age

Alliance Française Vancouver (AFV) celebrated its 115th anniversary with an Extended Reality (XR) art exhibition at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver on September 28 and 29. Recto VRso @ Vancouver featured eleven artworks and five guest artists.

XR changes the way we see artistic creation and has allowed artists to invent new forms of expressions. – AFV director Damien Hubert.

XR is simply immersive video. The user is immersed in a virtual environment delivered through a 180 or 360 degree image. XR includes all three forms of realities. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR). It’s the combination of real and virtual environments interacting with computer technology and wearables.

The exhibition explores the impact of VR/AR on artistic creation, and fosters dialogue between artists, researchers and professionals from France and British Columbia (B.C.)

It also provided a glimpse of exciting future programs AFV hopes to offer in their new cultural centre. A VR tour enabled visitors to experience the new facility due for completion in 2022.

Silk Road Today - Recto VRso @Vancouver: XR Technology Redefines Future Art Experience

At the evening gala, B.C. Attorney General David Eby commented on the “amazing wine and art, international collaboration on technology and incredible work everyone has done.” (Nikao Media)

Levitate with Brainwaves

“The vibrancy of Vancouver’s arts and culture scene is a major benefit for our citizens,” said Deputy Mayor and Councillor Melissa De Genova. She added the city recently approved Cultural Shift, a 10-year cultural plan.

Levitation was among one of the interesting artistic and immersive journeys featured at Recto VRso @Vancouver. In this experience, the user’s brainwaves power the levitation of a simple box off the floor.

The brainwaves are transmitted via the receptors implanted in the user’s headset. A software system interprets the brainwaves, and enables the user to lift the box. Sheer concentration and practice is required.

Silk Road Today - Recto VRso @Vancouver: XR Technology Redefines Future Art Experience

Levitation: User donning an OVO headset (a VR & neural headset) attempts to levitate the 3D cube with his concentration exercise. The more intense his concentration, the longer the box will stay in the air. Art Creator: David Cuez and Bastien Didier. (Nikao Media)

Recto VRso is an annual event held in Laval, France. The goal is to facilitate new artistic forms engaging virtual and mixed reality technologies. Artists and researchers create works that interact between reality and virtual.

Recto VRso @Vancouver is part of the B.C. Culture Days Program and a side event to VIFF Immersed. This first-of-its-kind exhibition is organized by Alliance Française Vancouver. Supporters include the Cultural services of the French Embassy to Canada, the Consulate General of France in Vancouver, the Centre for Digital Media, Creative BC, Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF Immersed), Emily Carr University, Institut Francais, Laval Virtual and the Vancouver VR/AR Association.

Silk Road Today - RectoVRso @Vancouver: XR Technology Redefines Future Art Experience

Levitation: Software displaying the user’s brainwaves used in the concentration exercise. (Nikao Media)

Silk Road Today - Lyon: The Heart of the European Silk Industry

Lyon is the go-to-place for high quality French silk. Fashion House Chanel and Birkin bag maker Hermes set up their manufacturing plants in the region.

Updated: October 05, 2018

Hermes is France’s biggest high-end and fully integrated silk manufacturer. Over 800 people work in their production centred in vicinity of Lyon, according to Reuters.

The thriving European silk trade in Lyon began as early as the 16th century. The French aristocrats’ appetite for high fashion and luxury goods fuelled a booming silk industry.

Luxury goods convey more than wealth and status in those days. It was about identifying the sources of sensory pleasure, which made silk an object of desire.

The canuts (silk workers) of Lyon lived and breathed silk for 500 years. Their legacy is painted on the walls in the Croix-Rousse district. The gigantic Mur des Canuts (canut mural) covering over 12,917 sq. feet is surmised to be Europe’s largest fresco.

Up on Rousse hill, Maison des Canuts, the district’s silk museum is the only place in Lyon to see working “Jacquard” hand looms.

Lyon is also known as the food capital of France, and the birthplace of celebrated French chef Paul Bocuse.

Interview with French Consul General Philippe Sutter on France’s connection to the Silk Road.


The transcript of the interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

SILK ROAD TODAY: Thank you, Consul General Sutter for joining us on the Silk Road conversation today. Consul, can you tell us a little bit about France’s connection to the ancient Silk Road. What are some of France’s contributions and influences along the Silk Road?

PHILIPPE SUTTER: The Silk Road trade is of course part of our common history. The iconic network of ancient trade routes has connected us, Asia, Europe and Africa, both by land and by sea. We value this contribution which benefited many civilizations over the centuries.

The Silk Road paved the way to global trade, rich cultural, technological and religious exchanges, and shaped our interconnected world of today. And it has been a game changer of the modern era.

SILK ROAD TODAY: How did France benefit from the ancient Silk Road?

SUTTER: I would say that the weaving of imported silk was first recorded in the 11th century in France. The first chestnut trees in my country were planted in Provence and in the Pyrenees at the same period. And silk production seems to have started also in south of France.

Silk Road Today - Lyon: The Heart of the European Silk Industry

Beautiful silk scarves made using medieval looms.(Masion des Canuts)

In this event, at the end of the 13th century, it was French King Charles VII, the Duke of Burgundy and their successors who participated so vigorously, through markets, trades… Brussels, Amsterdam, Lyon and other towns.

All these fostered trade, business, and above all understanding, tolerance and respect for one another. And these are values that we share, and that we have to protect together.

France’s Silk History

The Silk Road trade with France dates actually back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Silk Road trade contributed to the mercantile transformation of Western Europe including France.

The practice of emulating Asian silk styles was institutionalized in Lyon. With the development of initiatives and imitating Chinese motifs, what we call nicely, chinoiserie. From the 16th century, all fine fabrics travelling the Silk Road, from Asia to Europe would end up in Lyon’s warehouses.

And the next century, the 17th century, there were over 10,000 looms in this city, which cemented Lyon status as the global centre for silk weaving. In fact, Lyon was a well-known centre of silk manufacturing and trade for 500 years, here in France.

And in 1801, pioneering engineer, Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a mechanical loom which would rapidly industrialized silk weaving… and this was the beginning of the real revolution. It’s a very important kind of business.

On a personal note, I would say and mention that my father created in Alsace in the 60s, some years ago, some Jacquard patterns, which I still have today.

Silk Road Today - Lyon: The Heart of the European Silk Industry

Croix-Rousse district silk museum, Masion des Canut offers guided tours and workshops for visitors to discover five centuries of Lyon’s silk industry. (Maison des Canuts)

Places to Visit

I would specially mention Lyon. Lyon is located in east central France in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. It’s actually the second largest city after Paris and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city of Lyon was once the capital of European silk trade. And Lyon’s rich cultural life and its silk history is still very vibrant and can be seen in its museums, including the silk museum of course, and the fabric museum, very impressive. I recommend you to pay a visit to these institutions after seeing, of course, their very useful websites.

I would add the neighbourhood of Croix Rousse in Lyon which was at the heart of the city’s booming 19th century silk industry, and also the L’Atelier de Soieri, a historical manufacturer, which is also amazing.

As in other cities and villages in France, you will find the also in Lyon, the perfect combination and mixture of culture, gastronomy and quality of life.

Come and see for yourself.

You are Most Welcome!

Updated: September 20, 2018

The city of Lyon in France was once the capital of the European silk trade. Find out how the weaving loom invented for silk manufacturing became the foundation for modern computers.

Lyon is located in east-central France in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes région. It is the second largest city after Paris .

The city lived and breathed silk as early as the 16th century. By 1620, over 10,000 looms were manufacturing silk. It was a world renowned center of silk manufacturing and trade for 500 years. Read more.

Related: Lyon: Heart of the European Silk Industry

Lyon’s rich cultural life and silk history can be seen in its museums including the Silk Museum. The tradition of silk weaving in the city continues to this day. More on the silk industry in Lyon.

Low-Tech Loom to High-Tech Computers

Did you know that the French invented Jacquard loom transformed patterning technology using punch cards and propelled the French silk industry to its peak?

The punch cards storing pattern information in a binary code also became the foundation for modern computers.

Lyon is high on the world’s best gastronomy list when it comes to food.  The region is reputed as the gourmet capital of France and as a UNESCO World Heritage site.