In the world of virtual reality, where creativity knows no bounds, Anu Papp-Scarmon stands as a visionary artist, embarking on a remarkable journey to bring history, art, and technology together. Her latest project, Le Jardin Romantique du Petit Trianon, promises to transport visitors back in time to the splendors of 18th-century France, specifically the Petit Trianon and its enchanting gardens. This ambitious endeavor showcases Anu’s deep-rooted passion for French history and architecture, merging historical accuracy with artistic expression within the immersive realm of Second Life.
To delve deeper into this creative masterpiece, we had the privilege of sitting down with Anu Papp-Scarmon for a comprehensive interview. Join us on this journey through the mind of a virtual artist, where history and imagination converge seamlessly to create a unique and captivating experience.
An Artistic Journey Through Time
Violet Boa: Anu, you’re currently working on a remarkable project set in the virtual world. Can you tell us more about it? What inspired you to embark on this endeavor?
Bringing Versailles to Life
Violet Boa: It’s fascinating that you’re recreating the Petit Trianon and its gardens. Can you share your vision for this project and what you hope visitors will experience when they explore it?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: The moment a visitor lands, they instantly feel as if they have dropped into a painting. The intricate windlight settings, the ambient sounds of nature, and the period music streaming on the sim—there is no doubt in my mind that each person will time travel back to a time of elegance and grace, for simplicity and solitude.
Violet Boa: Your project seems to be more than just a replication; it’s an artistic endeavor. Could you elaborate on how you’re infusing artistic elements into this virtual environment?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: The ability to capture emotions through art, whether it be through dance, music, painting. To awaken the inner feeling of being in this environment in history reproduced through the platform of a virtual world.
Violet Boa: Creating an authentic historical setting requires attention to detail. How are you ensuring historical accuracy in your project, and what steps are you taking to bring history to life?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: Each room within the Petit Trianon is studied, from floorplans to sculptures, to painting and furniture, to recreate an accurate real-life representation within Second Life.
The Experience for Visitors
Violet Boa: Walking through a virtual museum or garden can be a unique experience. How are you designing the space to engage visitors and make them feel like they’ve stepped back in time?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: The sim is designed to instantly immerse visitors into a bygone era. From the moment they arrive, they will feel the ambiance of 18th-century France, from the visual aesthetics to the sounds of nature and period music. As quoted by Nikolay Mikhailovich Karamzin, historian, romantic writer, poet, and critic, “and I see hills, fields, meadows, herds, a grotto…”
Violet Boa: Your project seems to blur the lines between art, history, and virtual reality. How do you see these elements intersecting, and what kind of impact do you hope to make?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: This project is a perfect union of art, history, and technology. It allows us to experience history in a way that transcends traditional mediums. I hope to make an impact by offering a genuine connection to the past, where visitors can not only observe but also immerse themselves in history.
Violet Boa: You mentioned interactive features. Could you give us an idea of what visitors can expect in terms of interaction and engagement within the virtual space?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: From a photographer’s dream to exploring and strolling through the many pathways throughout, to stumbling upon the grotto or sipping a cup of tea or playing a round of En Garde, there will be ample ability to engage with the project.
Violet Boa: Building such a complex project is likely a team effort. Could you tell us more about the collaboration involved, especially with your builder and other contributors?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: What began as a need for assistance in terraforming around the Petit Trianon ended up in a beautiful collaboration between two old friends that shared memories from a life of RP count in Second Life and a common love for the Petit Trianon and its gardens. As our friendship grows, the project continues to bloom.
Evolving and Growing
Violet Boa: Projects like these are often ongoing endeavors. Do you have plans to expand the project further, add new areas, or incorporate different historical eras in the future?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: Of course! The goal will be to expand by adding sims to incorporate the Queens Hamlet and/or the Grand Trianon. The time frame will remain the same, only expanding to include other areas surrounding the Petit Trianon.
Artistic Expression and Events
Violet Boa: Your artistic background is apparent in your project. Do you plan to host art-related events, exhibitions, or performances in this virtual space?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: Absolutely. The servants’ quarters for the Queen will be converted into an art gallery to host various artist exhibitions in Second Life. We are also pleased that we will eventually add the Queens Theater to host intimate productions. This will be an addition to the existing Muse Dance Co. theater.
Violet Boa: The intersection of history and technology is intriguing. Could you delve into the technological aspects that power your project, such as the tools or platforms you’re using to create this immersive experience?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: The technological foundation of this project is built upon the robust platform of Second Life. Within this virtual world, we leverage a wide range of tools and features to bring our historical vision to life. From precise 3D modeling to intricate windlight settings that capture the essence of different times of day, we utilize the full spectrum of virtual technology to create an immersive experience that transports visitors to 18th-century France.
Violet Boa: Allowing users to contribute can enhance engagement. Are you considering incorporating user-generated content or collaborative elements within your virtual environment?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: At this time, our focus is on providing a meticulously crafted historical experience that maintains a high level of authenticity. While we greatly value user engagement and feedback, we believe that preserving the historical accuracy and artistic integrity of Le Jardin Romantique du Petit Trianon is paramount. However, we may explore collaborative elements in the future as the project evolves.
Preserving Cultural Heritage
Violet Boa: Your project involves recreating a significant historical site. Do you see this as a form of cultural preservation, and how do you navigate the balance between historical accuracy and artistic interpretation?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: It is most definitely cultural preservation. As an artistic creator, I approached this project by immersing myself in the character of its time. While there is much written about Versailles and the French Revolution, it was important to me to capture, much like a photographer, a moment in history that was a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of court and political life. In doing so, we aim to preserve not only the physical attributes of the Petit Trianon but also the essence of the era it represents.
Accessibility and Inclusivity
Violet Boa: Making virtual spaces accessible to everyone is important. What measures are you taking to ensure that your project is inclusive and can be enjoyed by individuals with different abilities?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: The sim is set to open to the public on October 1, 2023, for 30 days, after which it will be accessible by group only. Membership to Le Jardin Romantique will be free until the sim is closed for group-only access, at which time there will be a fee to join. This approach allows us to maintain a manageable level of access while still providing an opportunity for a wide range of individuals to enjoy the experience.
Violet Boa: Historical projects often have educational potential. Do you have plans to incorporate educational components, guided tours, or information points that provide insights into the history and significance of the Petit Trianon?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: Absolutely. Throughout the sim, we will place artifacts that, when clicked, will provide historical information about the piece, whether it’s a painting or sculpture. In time, I would like to work with the educational system within Second Life to allow students to experience firsthand stepping into history. Providing educational resources and insights into the historical context is an essential aspect of our project.
Inspirations Beyond History
Violet Boa: While history is a central theme, are there any other sources of inspiration, such as literature, art movements, or personal experiences, that are influencing the creative direction of your project?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: My first major build as a builder was the Petit Trianon back in 2010, so I have come full circle to a place and time in life that I have held close to my heart for many years. Beyond historical records, I draw inspiration from artists and styles of the era, such as Johann Georg Weikert, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Doyen, and Lagrenée.
Feedback and Iteration
Violet Boa: Feedback can be invaluable for refining any project. How do you plan to gather user feedback and incorporate it into the ongoing development of your virtual masterpiece?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: We have implemented a guestbook within the Petit Trianon, where visitors can provide their feedback and impressions. Additionally, we will establish a group on Flickr for those who want to share their photographic experiences within the sim. User feedback is an essential part of our project’s evolution, and we are eager to hear from our visitors.
Emotional and Sensorial Impact
Violet Boa: Spaces can evoke strong emotions and sensory experiences. What emotions do you hope visitors will feel as they explore the Petit Trianon virtually, and how are you working to achieve this?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: With all the influx in today’s world, it is my hope that each visitor feels a sense of liberty from the mundane. To rise to the beauty of history and embrace all with grace. We aim to transport our visitors to a time of elegance, simplicity, and serenity. The sim is designed to evoke a wide range of emotions, from awe and wonder to tranquility and appreciation for the historical significance of the Petit Trianon.
Viewer as Participant
Violet Boa: Your project blurs the line between observer and participant. How do you envision visitors engaging with the virtual Petit Trianon, and what role does their active participation play in the overall experience?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: We will be providing period clothing for both men and women at the landing point. Although not mandatory, we ask visitors to engage with their experience as they stroll through the gardens. This participation can range from adopting the attire of the era to engaging in activities like En Garde, exploring the gardens, or attending historical performances in the Queen Theater. Visitors play a vital role in bringing the virtual Petit Trianon to life.
Violet Boa: Creativity can manifest in various forms. Beyond visual representation, are you exploring interactive or experiential creative elements that visitors can engage with as they explore the virtual environment?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: Indeed, we are! We plan to host Royal Balls and hunts, enabling visitors to immerse themselves fully in the culture of the era. Additionally, the Queen’s Theater will be a hub for historical performances, providing a platform for artistic expression within our virtual world. These interactive elements will allow visitors to embody the creative spirit of the time.
Art Beyond Boundaries
Violet Boa: Virtual reality can transcend physical limitations. How does the removal of real-world constraints influence your artistic vision, and how are you embracing the freedom this technology offers?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: The freedom offered by virtual reality allows us to transcend the boundaries of time and space, making it possible to recreate historical environments with an unprecedented level of detail and immersion. It liberates us from the constraints of the physical world, enabling us to bring the past to life in a way that was once unimaginable. This freedom empowers us to create a truly authentic experience that resonates with visitors on a profound level.
Art for Emotional Impact
Violet Boa: Emotional resonance often lingers long after experiencing art. What emotions do you hope to evoke in visitors, and how do you believe these emotions contribute to a lasting connection with the virtual Petit Trianon?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: With Le Jardin Romantique du Petit Trianon, I hope to evoke emotions of awe, nostalgia, and serenity. The experience should leave visitors with a lasting connection to a bygone era, where they can momentarily escape the stresses of modern life and immerse themselves in the beauty of history and art. These emotions contribute to a deeper connection with the virtual Petit Trianon, making it a place visitors will want to return to time and time again.
Violet Boa: Collaborations can open up new horizons. Are you open to collaborating with other artists, historians, or technologists for potential crossovers or expansions of your project?
Anu Papp-Scarmon: While our primary focus at the moment is on completing and perfecting the current phase of Le Jardin Romantique du Petit Trianon, I am always open to exploring collaborations in the future. Collaborations have the potential to enrich the project further and expand its horizons. However, for now, our main goal is to provide the best possible experience to our visitors and maintain the integrity of our historical vision.
Anu Papp-Scarmon’s ambitious project, Le Jardin Romantique du Petit Trianon, is a virtual masterpiece that seamlessly merges history, art, and technology within the immersive realm of Second Life. Inspired by a profound love for French history and architecture, Anu has meticulously recreated the Petit Trianon and its enchanting gardens, capturing the essence of 18th-century France.
This immersive experience not only preserves cultural heritage but also invites visitors to step back in time, evoking emotions of awe, nostalgia, and serenity. Anu’s dedication to historical accuracy and artistic interpretation ensures a genuine connection to the past, making the project a true cultural preservation endeavor.
Opening its virtual doors to the public on October 1, 2023, for a limited 30-day period, Le Jardin Romantique welcomes all to explore its captivating world. During this initial phase, membership to Le Jardin Romantique is entirely free, allowing everyone to experience the beauty and elegance of history. After the public access phase, the sim will transition to group-only access, with a fee required to join.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Anu Papp-Scarmon for providing us with this comprehensive interview, shedding light on the project’s technological foundations, user engagement, and emotional impact. Her dedication to transporting us to a time of grace and beauty through the magic of virtual reality is truly commendable. Le Jardin Romantique du Petit Trianon is a testament to the transformative power of art and technology, and it promises to be a must-visit destination for all history and art enthusiasts.