DONVOR: a poetic immersion in the abyss

The DONVOR project questions the importance of a collaboration between scientists and artists to create a dialogue between science, art and society on current issues: environment, ecology, energy transition. This project results from a 7 year collaboration between scientists from Ifremer and artists from Teatr PIBA around a common theme: deep-sea ecosystems and the challenges around the potential exploitation of their mineral resources. It was articulated around reciprocal immersions. This article discusses the genesis of this project, its methodology, the results obtained and analyses the particular approach that was implemented. Finally, it seeks to understand how these "art and science" approaches are real triggers for dialogue and therefore powerful tools for scientific mediation.

Biography of the main protagonists

Who is Jozée Sarrazin? Born in Quebec (Canada), Jozée Sarrazin obtained her Ph.D. in 1998 at the University of Quebec in Montreal on the spatial distribution and temporal evolution of communities associated with hydrothermal vents on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. In 2002, she joined Ifremer as a researcher in benthic ecology in the "Biology and Ecology of deep-sea Ecosystems" research unit. She is interested in the structure and functioning of deep marine ecosystems, and more particularly at hydrothermal vents, her favourite environment. In close collaboration with her colleague Pierre-Marie Sarradin, she has participated in the development of biological observation modules that follow the temporal dynamics of the hydrothermal fauna and its environment. Jozée has published more than 120 papers and 5 book chapters and has participated in more than 30 oceanographic missions with underwater devices, including four as cruise leader. From 2012 to 2018, she was in charge of the Deep Environment Laboratory. She has long been interested in popularizing science. In 1997, she won a science popularization contest and since then, multiplied communication projects towards the public.

Who is Pierre-Marie Sarradin? Born in Saint Etienne (France), Pierre-Marie Sarradin's education was focused on the study of the aquatic and marine environment, from the perspective of environmental chemical analyses. After a DUT in chemistry and 2 years of study in England, he joined the University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour and defended his thesis in 1993 on the fate of tributyltin in the sediments of the Arcachon basin. He joined Ifremer and the Deep-Sea laboratory in 1994 to work, in collaboration with ecologists and in particular Jozée Sarrazin, on the characterization of environmental factors that structure hydrothermal communities. For the last 10 years, he has shared his time between the management of the EMSO Azores observatory and that of the Biology and Ecology of deep-sea Ecosystems research unit at Ifremer. He is involved in projects regarding the assessment of the environmental impacts of the exploitation of deep marine mineral resources. He has participated in 17 cruises using the Nautile and Victor submersibles, published more than 80 scientific articles and coordinated a European project that allowed the technological development of new instruments facilitating access and characterization of deep environments.

Who is David Wahl? David Wahl is a writer of stories, which he calls "talks". He then interprets them in the theatre. These talks are developed during immersive residencies. David is an associate author at Océanopolis. He meets scientists, researchers and other specialists whose knowledge feeds his writing. His favourite themes: the relationship between society and its environment. Although written in collaboration with scientists, the talks are not scientific works. They do not aim at the popularization of a learned content. On the contrary, it is rather to an emotional construction of knowledge that David Wahl is attentive. The author/storyteller seeks to share with the public the wonder, questioning and revelations that his research has produced on him.

Who is Thomas Cloarec? Thomas was trained at the School of Fine Arts in Brest. After working for four years with the Breton company Ar Vro Bagan, he created and directed the PantEatR Company in Brest until 2004. At the same time, he trained with different artists such as Yoshi Oida, Maria Jimena Cavalletti and Charlie Windelshmidt. He has performed under the direction of Julie Berès, Goulc'han Kervella, Lionel Jaffrès, Giselle Sparza. Thomas spent time in Vietnam and Laos from 2005 to 2008 where he worked with the national circus of Vietnam and Laos, the Matapeste Company and the Khao Niew Company. Co-founder and artistic director of TEATR PIBA since 2009, he has since been the artistic director of more than twenty creations and radio creations with the company, including Eden Bouyabes (2010), Metamorfoz (2014), Les échelles de nuage (2018), etc. Thomas also collaborates nationally and internationally with, among others, the companies Les Cambrioleurs, Derezo, with the artists David Wahl and Marie Guérin, with the National Theatre of Wales (UK), the National Theatre of Galicia (Spain), the Tryater (Netherlands) and the company Khao Niew (Laos).