A lofty village as the scenery
Ranked amongst the "Most Beautiful Villages of France", perched on a fortified spur and carved in limestone in the heart of Provence, the village of the Baux-de-Provence, between Arles, Avignon and Salon-de-Provence stands like a stone vessel. Along its narrow streets and from the esplanade of its beautiful medieval castle, it offers a breathtaking view of the valley, the Camargue and, on a clear day, the Sainte-Victoire mountain. There is also a bird's-eye view of the Valley of Hell, where the Quarries of Light are located.
The Valley of Hell as the atmosphere
A mineral and chaotic world, landscapes marked by cliffs dotted with caves—at the bottom of Les Baux, the Valley of Hell shelters quarries that seem to be guarded by stone monsters. Legends and poets have filled them with fairies and witches. Since 2012, "Culturespaces" has set up its one-of-a-kind audiovisual shows, projected on 10,000 m² (107,639 sq. ft.) of pristine rocks in the heart of the mountain.
A place full of history
The quarries of the Baux, including those of the Grands Fonds, currently the site of the Quarries of Light, have provided the beautiful white limestone used in the construction of the village and its castle. They were exploited until the 1920s, then gradually abandoned before closing around 1935. But a poet has taken care of their destiny. Marveled by these dark rooms, these galleries and monumental columns, in 1959, Jean Cocteau filmed The Testament of Orpheus, revealing the magic of the place.
For the Quarries of Light, "Culturespaces" developed the AMIEX (Art & Music Immersive Experience) process. Before each exhibition, thousands of images of works of art are digitized. They are then broadcast in very high resolution and set in motion to music, following a storyline full of poetry. The AMIEX technology, thanks to a hundred-video projectors and multicasting software, allows the projections to mold perfectly to these natural screens, which are the ground, the walls, the pillars and the ceiling of the quarries, up to 16 m (33 feet) high!
The soundtrack of each show, with a 30-minute duration and non-stop projection, is exclusive. Personalized and combining music with images, it imprints the rhythm, creates the atmosphere and gives the tone. It's equally unafraid to mix genres and eras, from Lully to Nina Simone, from Puccini or Vivaldi to Miles Davis, to evoke places and events from the life of the featured artist. As soon as the music starts, 5,000 images are set in motion, creating the impression of being instantly transported to the heart of the paintings.
From 2012, exhibitions have followed one another in the large hall of the Quarries of Light, 60 meters (197 feet) under the mountain. Van Gogh and his colorful universe is the host this year until January 5, 2020. The works of Gauguin, Picasso, Klimt, Arcimboldo and Chagall preceded them. On certain dates, in August and September, the entirety of the Quarries of Light proposes to relive the emotion of previous exhibitions by mixing the shows.
For more information:
• Visit the Quarries of Light
• Plan your trip to Provence
• Also read: Interview with Sam Stourdzé, director of the Rencontres de la photographie d'Arles.