Swarm. Minotaur. Multiverse. Dark Matter. Chronophage. No, these are not the latest Axe body scents for men, they’re the titles to the recently ended lineup of SATfest, a series of short films presented every spring at the SAT’s (Société des Arts Technologiques). It all happens at the Satosphere, a huge dome that forms a 360-degree spherical projection screen. If you’ve never experienced it, go and see anything that’s on. It makes IMAX look like your grandma’s old school black and white TV in comparison.
Swarm gathers you up and pulls you into a National Geographic-inspired world of, well, swarms. Together we become tiny blue slivers of light that move in unison, the way silver fish move in nature documentaries. We are the swarm.
All our heads are swaying up, down, side to side, as we try to follow the projections – and then we’re off in a swirl of black and white. Now we are being swarmed by what looks like huge bacteria as seen under a microscope. My brain knows it’s only a projection, but to my body this feels very whoa là, and I can’t help but lean away.
Here you don’t just watch, you feel. Music and sound are a huge part of the experience, but the best short films are the ones that find the balance between sound and image, so that we can lose ourselves in that apogee of 21st century tech prowess: an immersive experience. Minotaur is a high tech, tie-dyed classical music fantasy. We follow two flames through an organic kaleidoscope world that to me, played like a video game inside the body. Have you ever flown through cells before? Me neither.
Dark matter and Multiverse share a very masculine esthetic – Dark Matter an apocalyptic, Star Wars-inspired exploration; Multiverse a dystopia – a world of incredibly well rendered cityscapes that feel ominous. The technical prowess is obvious, but the ‘fil conducteur’ is sometimes harder to grasp.
Chronophage was a blend of all of the above – like flying through a 3D printer, immersed in the kind of bass that makes you want to dance – technically impressive, but also, moving and pleasurable.