Design - Research - Writing - Storytelling - Curation

  [written in French]


Every moment of our daily life _ sad, beautiful or even trivial _ brings emotions. A sound, a picture, a word or even a smell is sometimes enough to reveal them. We can feel them, observe them, share them, express or provoke them. As deeply individual feelings they can be_ simultaneously and contradictorily_ contagious.

However, emotions seem to be founded on paradoxes; everybody knows them without really understanding them. Part of our everyday experiences, it stays hard to precisely explain them with words.
This is a widely tackled issue in philosophy known as dualism [Descartes]. It’s about a gap between which is from the immateriality of the mind and which is from the physicality of the matter. Because emotions are just in-between they keep escaping any attempt of rationalization.
That may explain why most of the scientific attempts to establish a system for a better understanding of emotions are not completely reliable as the pseudo-science of physiognomy by Lavater or the technique of the polygraph known as lie detector. It can also explain why the Darwin’s researches about emotions in the human evolution are not the most retained in the science history.

Although the definition of emotions remains a challenge for science and philosophy, it doesn’t affect the possibility to observe their impact on social interaction. From “emotions” to “emotions in interaction” I used Ferdinand de Saussure’s linguistic method to question the role of emotional affect in communication. Is it possible to speak about a language of emotion? How the emotional messages are communicated through people?
After a theoretical analysis of the linguistic system linked to a case study about “tears in cinema” as particular form of emotional communication _ I reached the conclusion that emotions fit in a specific system of communication [close to the bee’s ones] that can be manipulated.

To be more specific I used the context of the stage _ whether as an actor or as a lecturer. In fact, acting techniques and self-representation skills were developed to manipulate and play with emotional expressions. These techniques belong to the rhetoric as a way to take advantage from the potential of emotional expressions to convince an audience by provoking empathy. In classical terms it is called the Pathos.

Mastering these techniques requires a lot of self-control, which is not easy for everybody according to the inconsistency of the "emotions" phenomenon.
However the development of cinematographic tools revealed new perspectives on emotional emphasis. Filming techniques were able to create a virtual proximity that the structure of a stage didn’t allow. Close-up, slow motion, music, are much cinematographic tools progressively enabled on stage performances through the presence of backstage engineers, but what if the actor himself was able to control these effects from his own acting position?

And in a more prospective scale, what would happen if everybody was able to use these tools on daily interactions to create its own everyday “pathos”?

Here is where my theoretical researches ended and my design process started.

Click here to see the project

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals - Charles Darwin [1872]

In «My life to live» from J-L. Godard [1962], the protagonist Anna Karinna cries at the cinema looking at RJ Falconetti’s tears in «The Passion of Joan of Arc» from K.T. Dreyer [1928]