Reciprocal aesthetic propositions for interactive digital installations of a spiritual nature are at the heart of Sophie Lavaud’s realizations. Her approach fits into a changing path which has led her from painting to interactive digital creation, from the completeness of a painting to the infinity of directions and view points on the virtual Web, from solidity to fluidity. She incessantly prompts us to redefine our position between the meditative contemplation of appearances and the action on the image and on ourselves. She is not interested in things for their look, their external aspect as described by Western cultures, but in how they move and change, according to the Eastern vision of the Yi-King, « living » life rather than « still » life, the changing conditions of matter .
From around 1984 and for many years, she dedicated time observing the body in motion (models or professional dancers) and through drawings, she translates the pure essence of its movements. As part of a working group, of which the choreographer and dancer Jean-Marc Matos (who studied with Merce Cunningham in the USA) was a member, she produced scenographies which allow the permutation of roles and positions within the working, model, observer and produced image spaces. ln so doing, she developed a working method which involved drawing while moving around one or more models, who were themselves moving in relation to one another. Unlike the easel painter facing his environment, her position as an observer was from within the scenography. Her observation work served as a preparation basis for a series of paintings, whose composition was deeply influenced by the structuring of the « original plan » so dear to Kandinsky, whose retrospective at the Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris, in 1985, had a big impact on her. This exhibition, which followed a transatlantic crossing on a sailing boat, complemented her own experience of life at sea. This confrontation with the ocean liquid and moving mass gave rise to a series of paintings to which Centre-Lumière-Bleu belongs. She then continued her painting work with quasi-monochrome creations, called Dynamic Systems or Entropies, tending increasingly towards the portrayal of evolving shapes, of the moment when matter can switch from one state to another and deliver its trapped potentials. In these paintings, matter behaves like particles in a « dynamic system », which reach an equilibrium between order and chaos. At the same time, around 1986, she started using computers and graphic palettes to create 2D images, and then she trained in the world of 3D and animated computer-generated images. Consequently, her paintings evolve in the shape of « installations » in the gallery environment. An installation such as Dynamique tridimensionnelle (1991) sets in space eight altuglas (a clear medium resembling glass) panels, screen-printed with clear inks
which are viewed by the moving eye of the public walking around it, through the superimposition or decomposition of different layers of paint. ln 1994, Hexagramme, a digital image installation printed on rhodoid by a thermal printing process, was exhibited at the Procréart gallery in Paris. They are suspended images, animated by a slight movement of air coming from the public walking around who can choose to switch on or off neon lights that illuminate the set, changing in so doing how they perceive the work, designed in a spirit close to kinetics. This installation will be the basis for the 1995 first version of the virtual reality installation: Centre-Lumière-Bleu, which she herself calls a « dematerialised painting for an interactive installation ».((figure 5.18))
The body, in its relation to space has always been the focus of her attention (in her practise of painting, theatre, dancing but also
martial arts such as taïchindo ).With Centre-Lumière-Bleu, a virtual reality installation, she sets up a confrontation between the body of the audience involved and her emotions, with the perception of the light vibration of the set which has become « energy/matter ». Designed in 1994 in its first version, the installation uses techniques called Virtual Reality (generally intended for industrial and scientific applications and appropriated here for artistic purposes) which hybridise information technology and video. The public is invited to enter into an enclosed space of about 30 rn2 through two openings placed to the right and the
left of a white wall on which is hung the painting Centre-Lumière-B/eu. The installation space is dark: facing the public, a screen of around 2.10 rn high and 2.80 rn wide displays (by overhead projector) the calculated image derived frorn the data emitted in real time to the cornputer by a position sensor placed on the spect-« actor »‘s head (on a set of headphones), as soon as the latter moves in the electromagnetic field created by the sensor aerial.
Centre-Lumière-Bleu allows the public therefore, with the position sensor as interface, to navigate bodily through the layers of a virtual painting, a digital environment modelled from one of the pictoral works that the artist designed by dynamic architecture
in space. The picture was digitalised, then dissected into 6 layers whose overall structure matches an hexagram from the Book of Changes: the Yi-Jing (Chinese ancestral tradition divinatory treaty ), resulting into a fragmentation and a distribution of the works space, of its original flat surface (Kandinsky’s P O), by space conditioning the painting. This results in eye mobility,
shifting of points of view, non-linear movements, navigation, increased public body presence through interfaced gestures. In a second version co-produced with the Aubervilliers Métafort, the visitors can also at a given time in their course, trigger audio and visual events when they come very close to a free rotating component.
This device has been undergoing development since 1995, a working process,just as a piece of software evolves into different versions each time it is displayed. ln its « installation » form (which Sophie Lavaud calls a « multimedia » device because
it involves a variety of media in space: painting, fixed and moving infographic images, video display and sound), interactivity is presented as a production. Computer programming sets the potential aesthetic parameters of the relationship between the physical space (metrics such as our position, the direction of our gaze, the speed of motion and our gesture parameters) and the virtual environment.
This is a multimode approach combining images, sounds, languages and gestures. Fluidity is the main attraction for Lavaud in the computing support. The culture shift she brings about, enabled by the digital era, consists in no longer creating a fixed or animated image in the face of the viewer, but a simulation in which the viewer is immersed, becoming an acting and reacting player in the featured environment. Through this experimenting with the computing support, the artist opens up a field of
thought which, beyond aesthetics, prompts the viewers into reviewing themselves as an individual immersed in a universe inhabited by the machine. The individual therefore needs to find serenity, not in the mirage created by technical tricks but within their own selves. Just as in real situations, the artist forces the interactors into returning to decision-making, into questioning their own position within a society which is forever moving forward faster and further. Her artistic approach combines with a citizen’s behaviour of active resistance against mainstream social and cultural values: speed, competition, aggression, violence and soliciting.

Cyber-Light-Blue, created in 2000 with the help of the festival @rt-Outsiders and an award winner of the May 2001 multimedia design competition organised by NOOS in Paris, while fitting in with technical constraints typical of the net, is an extension of the networks of the multimedia device, Centre-Lumière-Bleu. A poetic cyber journey, also available on a customised CD-Rom and soon in a networked design, involving the aesthetics of Internet users’ communications media, in an emerging networked and interfacing form , Cyber-Light-Blue enables Internet users with the help of their keyboards and mice, to step over a series of
levels in a sequence of spaces opening complementary fields of perception, generators of senses, a metaphor of the concept of
interactivity: a layered space where the relationship between virtual and human occurs. With this « hypermedia » structure design, Sophie Lavaud not only renews a genre between poetry and pictorialism but also creates a new truly network-specific genre, a kind of « hyper- picture » – or « extended picture »: a total art utopia  dreamed of by Dadaists, Futurists, Constructivists, Kandinsky and the Bauhaus, as weIl as Duchamp who exposed a painting as a retinal limitation as early as the beginning of
the century -which results from poetry through literary expression, from plastic art through the involvement of shapes and colours, from the movies through the setting of animations. This is a short journey where anyone can direct and choose their own initiatory and interactive wanderings into the bluish folds of a cyberspace in slow gravitation. At the controls of their keyboards, just as captains of a drunken ship, Internet users both pick their way and are « picked » by it. They never retrace their own steps. They never look back. A pixellight always shines in front of their eyes and when they change direction, they open with a mouse-click the doors of the written language.
As to Techno-mariage (Techno-Wedding), which utilizes the techniques of Virtual Reality and the Internet, which was  corealized and coproduced with Fred Forest in March 1999, this is a living picture: an event spectacle in situ, associated with the personal life of the artist where there is neither scene nor auditorium, but an open space continued in cyberspace. In fact, the Techno-Mariage, is a hybridation of différents media :video projections ,virtual reality programmes , the Internet site , web-cams, connections at a distance via Internet, diffusion on the Internet as Real-video, sound creation , transforming the interactive hall of the municipal Council of the town of Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris (utilized for the occasion  as a wedding room into an open space for internauts beyond any physical or geographical frontiers. A real wedding celebrated at the town hall of Issy-les-Moulineaux, apart from its mediatic impact became part of a social and civil context and belonged no longer to a space dedicated to art. It was an autonomous work which played on the superposition of the different physical and virtual spaces. Several levels of reality superposed, mixed and interplayed there: : the virtual creatures who reacted in real time to the movements of the real spouses, the images of the mayor, the public and the spouses are reinjected in real time by a camera into the virtual reality programme while the interventions at distance are expected , thus telescoping time and space.
For Lavaud, it means, in a recurrent way, to put herself the question to know how the notion of space is linked to that of the real time of exploration and in which way it evoluates with the utilization of the new media. It means to put into operation with the aid of different devices, this notion of space-time and to find an articulation by scenorising, scenographising and in giving to perceive in a sensorial and/or cognitive manner, between the human language and that of the machine,  between the gesture and the image/system, and the persons between themselves. Across the notion of ‘relational spaces’, one is to explore the itinerary, the movements, the state of presence, the mode of being and to make emerge from it the forms to live with them and make them alive.