Expertly designed by Axel de Beaufort and Guillaume Verdier and the first of its kind, ARTEXPLORER is soon to set sail on a breath-taking and immersive journey. As a project that encompasses both culture and environment, it aims to raise awareness of contemporary issues by utilising a revolutionary LED tunnel, made possible by world-leading visualisation technology specialists, Leyard Europe.
Since its inception in 1995, Leyard Europe has collaborated on many innovative and transformative assignments. However, ARTEXPLORER presented the company with an opportunity to be a part of something truly unique.
ARTEXPLORER is a one-of-kind work of art, featuring Leyard Europe’s trailblazing LED tunnel as the main event. At 46 metres long, it is currently the largest sailing catamaran in the world and built to the highest environmental standards. This singular aquatic experience is a true masterpiece and a testament to unparalleled craftsmanship.
Enlisted by Guy Butterati, Co-Founder of AV-IT systems integrator Akumendo, which spearheaded the technical side of the project alongside ArScénique, a solutions and services provider for events and digital systems, Leyard Europe immersed itself in this pioneering project, working closely with Art Explora, the owner's foundations team, from the initial design stage through to completion. “This has been a truly collaborative process,” notes Xavier Guillermain, France Zone Manager at Leyard Europe. “Everyone involved has always tried to find solutions, taking into account all aspects of the project and listening to our advice. The structure’s design is amazing and has evolved from its simpler beginnings.”
With decades of experience in the yachting industry, Akumendo and ArScénique recognised that Leyard was the missing piece of this technical puzzle. “In the consulting phase, we realised very quickly that video projection would not be the right solution,” Butterati recalls. “The progress and evolution of LED technology made a lot of sense, so we decided to push this technology forward, even though it was more expensive,” he continues.
“And that’s where Leyard came into the play. We knew it was the only organisation capable of doing what was needed, so we got in touch with Xavier and began working with them. They became a true partner.”
What started as an informal discussion around the power and precision of LED in comparison to projection, grew into a more complex and detailed design and architecture discussion, and the entire team quickly learned they had a collaboration that would make their vision a reality. Leyard’s team were immediately engrossed in the planning process alongside Akumendo and ArScénique, challenging themselves to build the lightest system possible to enable smooth mounting and dismounting of the structure, utilising the efficacy of carbon fibre, magnetic attachments and fibre optic connectors. “The challenges in terms of structure were huge,” Butterati explains. “First of all, Leyard came up with the idea that it must be as light, recommending a carbon fibre system. We said we need to find a way to mount and dismount the cabinets of this huge surface as easily as possible, with reduced rear access, and they came up with magnet solution, which is amazing. We learned with them all the way, and taught them all the constraints of the boat environment. We gave them as much information as possible to understand, for example, the energy transfer during the shockwaves onboard, and they brought their expertise and the confidence they have in their structure.”
Measuring 16m long by 5m wide and 2.3m high, the tunnel is engineered as a rugged non-permanent installation with no less than 512 special Leyard CarbonLight CLI Flex LED modules and 352 CarbonLight CLI LED cabinets, both with a pixel pitch of 1.5mm. These are housed in an aluminium structure, with the carbon fibre cabinets satisfying the challenging need for rigidity, lightweight and resilience. The supporting structure is installed on silent blocks and the innovative magnet attachments for the cabinets.
The concept of building a 1.5mm pixel pitch LED screen, with tilts and curvature never-before seen, to create a LED tunnel below deck, and mounting it onto a navigating yacht, meant the project had the potential to be a catastrophe, a possibility that taunted the team at a crucial time. After taking delivery of the metal frame, essential to the integrity of the structure, quality checks revealed errors that could have caused weeks of delays. However, Leyard Europe’s 33,500 square-foot production factory, located just outside Presov, Slovakia, provided the company with unmatched manufacturing advantages, allowing them to repair and repaint the metal frames in just one day. “The dealer’s jaw dropped,” Guillermain exclaims. “He’d never seen anything happen so fast! The factory being where it is means reduced shipping times, which is a huge asset.”
Leyard Europe were the pioneers who brought Art Explora’s vision to life, but even Leyard had not anticipated some of the technical challenges. The structure comprises 2m sections, making alignment difficult to perfect, and is entirely mobile; ARTEXPLORER delicate structure, so Leyard provided technical training to the relevant teams to ensure any immediate repairs can be dealt with independently, quickly and smoothly.
The project involved months of tweaks and testing and Guillermain expresses his admiration for the project. “I’ve done a lot during my career, but this is the most amazing job I’ve ever done. I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he concludes. “We are proud to have been part of such a ground-breaking endeavour. Working as a team, we have achieved an amazing result and we are sure visitors to ARTEXPLORER will be as enchanted as we are.”
The Art Explora Festival immersive show in the LED Tunnel, curated by Noëmi Daucé, curator of the Louvre’s Oriental Antiquities department, features content related to the representation of women in the Mediterranean. More than just a museum tour, this free festival will provide an opportunity for visitors to meet the impressive artists behind the work. Upon boarding, a unique headset with spatial audio and semi-open back design will be provided to each, allowing for language preferences to be set, and which will work in harmony with the ambient sounds of the catamaran, complimented by 3D technology enabling a thoroughly immersive sound experience.
ARTEXPLORER’s first journey is scheduled for March 2024. She will sail from port to port around the Mediterranean, providing a cultural, artistic, and thoroughly unique experience, and is set to fascinate its guests whilst simultaneously drawing attention to contemporary issues we face.
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