Network: 'A journey inside the music'

My Technology: Jean Michel Jarre tells how he will be mixing sound and vision at a Paris concert this week

My concert is kind of a new experience from a musical and visual point of view because I will be with a band and Apollo 440 and some DJs. The novelty of the technological side, I would say, is the fact that all the cinema and visual stuff will be done live on computers.

I will perform all the images and visuals live on stage, just like doing music live. The visuals will be projected on eight-by-six metre screens in 3D in front of about 15,000 people wearing special 3D glasses. So it will be quite fun.

It is a new idea. We know that 3D existed before, but, so far, it has only existed with a special film which has been shot in 3D and then projected in a special theatre. The big difference is we are not talking about pre- filmed images but those generated and created live in 3D.

These images include what is happening on the stage. So there will be 3D images floating around in the middle of the audience. It is an odyssey into the heart of sound, the experience for the audience will be like a journey inside the music through these visuals played in total conjunction with the music.

It's something that I have been thinking about for four or five years. I really wanted to achieve this and Apple's technology gave me the opportunity to ask some people working with me to do this project with the new iMac computers. I am not able to program or create software, so most of time I have an idea and try to work with the right people, the technician or genius. I thought for a long time it would be interesting to integrate 3D concepts with rock concerts, because I think that nowadays sound does surrounds the audience most of time with the stereo or even surround sound, so it's interesting to think that images could be processed in the same way. I wanted to create a situation where the audience were in the heart of the concert. Also, in a sense the audience will be part of the show itself - wearing white glasses is another visual statement.

Now we have come to the frontier for a project where the visual experience and the music are closer and closer. I don't think that music necessarily requires this; it is a way of expression in itself. The reason why this gig - I hope - will be interesting is that it's a different approach. Like Apple's motto "Think Different", I think this is what all artists are trying to achieve.

What I like is starting from a bank of images and change them through twisting, colouring, morphing. In a sense it is strange to see that digital technology allows me to go back to an instinctive attitude towards movement. And it is the same with music. At the end of the Eighties and beginning of Nineties, synthesisers became more and more abstract. Then with techno music, suddenly the instruments are more instant, you can make it with a turntable, which is the least sophisticated instrument you can imagine.

For the music, you are rehearsing with musicians and you decide on the programme on the night, so it gives you a less-predictable type of mood or thinking. It's the same with the visuals. We rehearse exactly like music; so we have a bank of images for each song but I leave a certain freedom, to try to be not too predictable or trapped into something you can't change. It's important to have the ability to improvise and function to what you feel is the mood of the audience.

I couldn't imagine not being nervous, partly because we are still experimenting with new technology - everything can go wrong. For me, the real impact or success is when people don't notice the difficulties or the laborious side of the work. I hope on the night people will consider it's almost natural."

Jean Michel Jarre's Electronic Odyssey takes place on 18 September at Porte de Versailles, France. The concert is free, but you must register in advance via the Apple Computer France website (http://www.apple.fr).

Jennifer Rodger

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