A real sense of anxiety comes hand in hand with today’s atmosphere of uncertainty and turmoil. Sometimes one is faced with threats to which the immediate reaction may be a feeling of paralysis, as well as a desire to withdraw and avoid them. In such times it’s good to remember that none of this is new. As Régis Debray expresses so well in his recent work Du bon usage des catastrophes, history is full of episodes wherein Man gives himself a fright, as much a result of playing power games as a consequence of collective awareness. Faced with this complex anxiety mechanism, humans have learned to cope over the years through various means of escape that are once again being explored today: celebrating torment as a means to transcend it, echoing the great moments of Romanticism, or by exploring parallel and dystopian universes.
I. EMERGING SIGNS: DYSTOPIA
Unlike idealized utopian worlds, dystopian worlds are complex imaginary places rife with unresolved problems. They offer the possibility to take a step back from the real, often misunderstood world in crisis with the promise of a miraculous solution. These visions strongly stimulate the imagination, inciting us to investigate, think, understand signs and interpret strange situations, with no guaranteed results. These parallel worlds thus contain an element of play using an unbridled imagination that goes well beyond reality, in which present-day problems and preoccupations are reflected in a distorted manner.
1. PARALLEL UNIVERSES: In Sleep No More, the play that has been enjoying a triumph in New York since 2011, the theater company Punchdrunk reinterprets Macbeth. It takes place in a multi-layered world haunted by ghostly presences, a performance that turns the senses upside-down and offers the viewer a glimpse of a fourth dimension. 2. BEYOND THE LOOKING GLASS: the American musician Zola Jesus, with her enchanted voice and cosmic electronic music, takes listeners to the other side of the mirror in her bewitching video clips filled with glittering darkness, such as Night and Vessel, in which she wanders alone through unknown spaces and lunar landscapes. 3. THE ANGEL OF THE ODD: An exhibition at the Musée D’Orsay which opened on March 5, 2013, devoted to Dark Romanticism, shows the works of artists from Goya to Max Ernst and explores the history of this antimodernist movement inspired by the shadowy, irrational elements lurking within each of us.
II. CHANGING VALUES
The feeling that the world we live in has become too chaotic and complex makes people uncertain about the meaning of their existence and brings an acute awareness of the human condition. This confrontation with reality may result in a profound sadness. At the same time, it is this sense of vulnerability that revives a need to experience emotions, connections and even love, in all of which people are searching for true comfort, and upon which we have built a culture of melancholy and romanticism.
THE LURE OF THE OCCULT
Like an uncontrollable force, the feeling of incomprehension that reigns today, as well as the almost magical quality that permeates new technologies, contribute to people being drawn to the occult and the supernatural. As if, paradoxically, that is where the rational answers actually lie.
THE APPEAL OF PARALLEL WORLDS
Since rationality is now to be found in irrational places and the world is still indecipherable despite the phenomena of hyper-communication and a vast increase in knowledge,people are now intensely focused on parallel universes, a place « beyond reality », the fourth dimension (time) and the fifth dimension (imagination).
A DESIRE FOR INITIATION
Beyond the attraction of paranormal phenomena, when people have lost their way they feel a strong need for guidance, to find their footing as they wander the many real, virtual and imaginary paths that make up the world around them. They wish to be « initiated ». This can come about by gaining sound knowledge of a subject, or via an occult initiation such as those practiced by secret societies and certain religions.
III. PROSPECTIVE CREATIVE CONCEPTS
Intensify the relationship to the product by introducing new initiation rituals to go along with understanding, discovering and savoring a product. A sensorial immersion experience that requires secret codes. A new way of valuing luxury that it is only accessible to true connoisseurs.
1. Ice bonbon and bonbon gold limited by Mélissa Duboc & Sébastien Popa for Maison Rémy Martin. Cognac candy crystallized in a block of ice. It can only be eaten once the ice has melted: « the act of waiting is an act of discovery ». 2. The Blocks by Studio Toogood. A temporary wine bar that offers multi-sensory tastings. Guided by wine stewards, clients select their vintages by smelling scented wooden totem poles.
1. Cointreau Privé by Alexis Mabille. An ephemeral cocktail club conceived by the fashion designer who revisits 1920’s trends. Clients must first register on the brand’s website. 2. Whaf by Marc Brétillot & David Edwards for Le Laboratoire. A cloud of flavors wafting up from a glass bowl that looks like a combination of a carafe and globe, inhaled through straw for a sensorial caress of theolfactory system.