June 19, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Katie Porter talks to Grégoire Pont, animator and creator of cinesthetics.

Our Precious Planet is a multimedia ‘poem to the Earth’; a concert blending classical music and projected animations to explore themes of nature and fragility. Our Precious Planet is the creation of animator Grégoire Pont and conductor Dalia Stasevska, who teamed up with the BBC Symphony Orchestra to bring the performance to life. The concert proved to be an inspiring and compelling way to engage young people in climate issues through conjuring  joy and appreciation for the magnificence of nature. 

Before the performance, I caught up with Grégoire Pont, the artist behind the magical animations and creator of the performance concept ‘Cinesthetics’. Pont is passionate about using animation to bring classical music to life for young audiences.  We discussed how such performances can offer an alternative way to educate young people about the planet.  

Katie: What were your hopes and aims for this project?  

Grégoire: What I show is mostly an experience of emotions, especially when you walk through a forest and are moved by the light, the smells, the colours. I am not going to explain the creation of the world and the earth and then the cells developing to make plants and organisms. No, it’s not my point. Of course, we start with stars and the cosmos, but after that, we are more about the beauty of the flowers and different creatures of the forest and the oceans.  

It’s an emotional journey, in which I am trying to recognise this in two parts; the first is showing beautiful things. But in the last part, I will show the arrival of humankind; while it was fun to place energetic music to depict the technical and industrial revolutions, it is very aggressive. I wanted to illustrate music travelling through the centuries of music and as we move, the music is becoming more industrial as we approach the 20th century. Pollution comes quickly, and we, as humankind, end up in our tower, piling up things, stadiums, houses, castles, aeroplanes, all these human-made things just piling up. In the end, it crumbles. Nonetheless, there is hope; it’s for children after all, so although it can be a bit pessimistic- in the end, there is hope.  

The Barbican wanted me to develop ideas of what can be done in the future with energy, solar power, and futuristic cities, but I’m not comfortable with that as we don’t know what the future holds. Ultimately I want there to be optimism, but I’m not a scientist; I’m an illustrator. I just want to capture the beauty of our planet.  

Katie: What compelled you to create this piece looking at the beauty of nature and the arrival of humankind? 

Grégoire: I like to close my eyes and imagine what the music is telling me. I imagined this scenario through the music; music and nature go together- it’s very efficient. It’s like I am dancing on the music; I want to synchronise. I follow the orchestra, what the music is telling me  

{He sings} Bun-bun-bun-bunnnn… yes, draw a flower!  

Bun-bun-buun… 

Bloop-bloop-bloop… ahhhh, butterflies land on the flower! When it comes together, it is perfect! 

Katie: This project is aimed at children- Do you think it’s essential for children to be exposed to the destruction of man and the related climate issues from an early age?  

Grégoire: No. No, I think that our period is too pessimistic for the children. I have children, and when we walk in the country, we pick up litter and learn to respect nature. But I’m not a catastrophist; when people say the world is ending, I don’t buy it. I understand, but I don’t believe it. It’s through changed behaviour there can be transformation; young people know this. You can’t change the world, but you can change how you live. This concert must not make the children depressed, which is why the end of this piece is not so pessimistic.  

Katie: So, are beautiful art pieces more impactful on young people than the bleak portrayals we are met with in daily? 

Grégoire: Yes, it creates an emotional experience; it is more memorable what is happening in these poetic moments.  

Katie: What is the overall message you’d like for the audience to take away with them? 

Grégoire: Ultimately I want there to be optimism, but I’m not a scientist. I’m an illustrator. I just want to capture the beauty of our planet.  

Image credit: Katie Porter.