GENESIS: YANN ULRICH
AUTHOR, DIRECTOR & PRODUCER OF HY
“LIVING IS THE RESPONSIBILITY TO STRIVE.” YANN ULRICH, CREATOR OF HY
Yann Ulrich is an avant-garde entrepreneur (1972). Born in France, he lives and works in Berlin, Paris and New York. Humanism, Evolution and Audacity are central themes in Ulrich's works. Between 2005 and 2023, Ulrich creates the transmedia artwork HY, a saga of social science-fiction on the theme Evolution. Imagined as a new generation of entertainment for all digital generations (BB, X, Y, Z) - ethical, relevant, fully responsive - HY saga is a mindblowing experience in 12 episodes on 12 media featuring first-of-a-kind interactive narration, to be released from 2024 to 2030. In 2025, HY will reveal its pivotal work, an electro digital dance opera, that will tour 55 cities in 24 countries with its transportable opera house for six years. HY story begins here.
2004 marks the year that Ulrich - most awarded creative director in new media in France in 2002/2003 - decides to pursue full throttle the driving passion that will lead him to invest 40,000 hours over the next ten years in developing the HY Saga.
But the story begins even earlier, in 1997, around the time Ulrich receives, as Valedictorian, his Master's degree with honors in Digital Media, Sociology of Culture and Performing Arts from the University of Avignon in 1997 in partnership with France’s prestigious EHESS, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, under his thesis supervisor and mentor Pr. Emmanuel Ethis, sociologist of the cinema and president of the University of Avignon. In 1997 Ulrich has a revelation.
At the time, Ulrich had already produced his first creation with his friend Sébastien Brosseau, ‘Le Sid’, performed at Caserne Chabran Avignon in 1996. A musical multivision piece for 12 screens on Queen’s song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, dealing with the life of an individual with AIDS. The creation earned them a declaration from Luc Speisser, then Vice Director of Communication for the French Committee for Education and Health: “The quality of the message conveyed, in terms of both form and content, places this multivision among the most innovative and inspiring projects I have had the chance to discover in my 4 years at the head of public HIV communications.”
But it is on seeing Angelin Preljocaj’s ‘Paysage après la Bataille’ in 1997 that the great narrative potential of dance fully dawns on Ulrich. For the next eight years, he follows the creations of more than 100 choreographers from 25 countries, developing his own vision of a story language that uses not just dance, but combines electronic music, multivision and interactivity, which will give birth in 2005 to the opera HY.
At the same time, Ulrich embraces the early age of startups, creating the Kiio web agency in 1998 with his friend Fabien Fayard. For 6 years, he ensures the creative direction of international online productions for Disneyland Paris, Château de Chantilly, Toys'R'Us and L'Oréal amongst others. In 1999 and 2000, Ulrich does the artistic direction for the most ambitious international online game at the time: ‘Onlinepilot’, launched at the Paris Air Show 1999 from a C-160 Transall on the tarmac of Bourget Airport, with the Aero-Club de France, the World Air Sports Federation, Microsoft Flight Simulator, IBM, Aerospatial and Air France. With nine new media awards in 2002/2003, Ulrich concludes this experience at the highest level.
These years of experience experimenting with and innovating combinations of media languages allow Ulrich to develop a transmedia vision that prefigures the direction of the HY Saga.
At last, in 2004, ready for the big leap, Ulrich sells his Montmartre apartment and puts all his savings and energy into conceptualizing a new live cultural experience. In parallel, envisioning a production for a worldwide audience with a strong social goal, Ulrich feels the necessity to bolster his understanding of the financial mechanisms behind such an ambitious project, and undertakes another Masters Degree, in International Corporate Management at the World's first business school ESCP EUROPE, in Paris, Mumbai and at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, with a major in audit, strategic management, limits of SME, music and digital media. Two months before graduating in June 2005, HY is born. As Valedictorian of the Valedictorians, with the unanimous congratulations of the jury for the best results since the creation of the diploma in 1986, Ulrich makes his first speech introducing the opera HY before the spellbound graduating class on ESCP’s Paris campus. HY is on the move.
BIRTH OF HY: NEXT GENERATION OPERA.
DIGITAL, INTERACTIVE, FOR EVERYONE
“OPERA IS THE MOST CONTEMPORARY SHOW KIND FOR THE DIGITAL GENERATIONS.” YANN ULRICH
After one year of conceptualization, on the 4 April 2005, HY is born as a 25-page libretto under its full name 'High infidelitY' under the themes Audacity and Evolution, and copyright registered with SACD in Paris. For Ulrich, the two inseparable core ideas of HY are a new generation of drama, driven by music and visuals, and fully interactive — an electro digital dance opera — and at same time a new model of production using a transportable opera house that tours working class districts of cities to give everyone the chance to see it.
Ulrich states, “As a total dramaturgical work, opera possesses per se the characteristics and the energy needed to become one of the most important forms of performance with the issues of the multimedia society. An audience that is asking for and consuming more and more "live" emotions. An audience on a constant search for movement. An audience that is accustomed to hypermedia reception of information and therefore demands content that delves deep into sense and form. The audience of the 21st century is high on hyperactivity, and loves it if the eyes, ears, body and soul brim over. The opera and the development perspectives it offers present a type and form of work that at last enables the audience to gratify its hunger for life. But opera needs to evolve and move borders.”
Ulrich influences are cross-border, from Kraftwerk to Arvo Pärt, from Klaus Nomi to ATCQ, from ‘The Magic Flute’ to ‘Satyagraha’, from Fazil Say to Steve Reich, from Pink Floyd’s show 'The Wall' to the choreography of Jan Fabre’s 'Quando l'uomo principale è una donna', from Nederlands Dans Theater to The Eminem Show, from Jodorowsky 'El Topo' to Kubrick 'Dr Strangelove', from Kim Ki-Duk to Tarkovsky, from ‘Twin Peaks’ to ‘Breaking Bad’, from Alan Moore to Edgar P. Jacobs, from Lautréamont ‘The Songs of Maldoror’ to Martin Amis ‘Time’s Arrow’, from Hyeronimus Bosch to Yaacov Agam, from 'Journey' to 'GTA V'.
Year after year, Ulrich enriches HY as a unique, mindblowing transmedia experience. HY becomes a transmedia saga, story about Evolution told in 12 episodes, in 12 intertwined media, including two feature films, a TV series, a video game, a graphic novel and live games, to be released from 2024 to 2030. But before that, at the start, begin the transformation of a vision to reality...
NOMINATION BY THE CONTEMPORARY OPERA
OF BERLIN. COOPERATION WITH UDK BERLIN
“HY IS WHAT MAKES OPERA ALIVE FOR THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE. While until now we saw opera as a prestigious hi class event, this one will pull everyone into it, because the whole project is taking giant steps into the future on every end.” STORM, CHOREOGRAPHER
Moving to Berlin in 2006 to develop HY in the everlasting energy of the city of arts, Ulrich is nominated in 2008 for HY by the Contemporary Opera of Berlin for its international contest 'Operare'. The same year, he also receives the cooperation of the University of the Arts Berlin (UdK), in developing together the cutting edge concept of a transportable opera house.
Over time, Ulrich puts together the right team to achieve the two goals of HY: artistic breakthrough, for everyone.
In 2008, he meets the French philosopher Philippe Lacour (associate researcher at Ecole Normale Supérieure), then at the Centre Marc Bloch, with whom he develops the philosophical through line for the HY saga’s dramaturgy in a word, audacity, defined by Lacour as “relational individualism”. Lacour states: “Well I would say one word, audacity. The audacity to go beyond set contemporary art forms and to imagine something new. And especially the audacity to be oneself and transmit this philosophy to the public. The notion of audacity can be found throughout the entire transmedia saga”.
HY’s legal director Francis Kessler (senior counsel and member of the Scientific Council at Gide ; associate professor in charge of leading private law research at Sorbonne Law School) also counts amongst HY’s earliest associates. As does the creative director in sound design Bruno Toussaint (’Orson Welles L’Homme Orchestre’, ‘Portrait Pyramidal : Opera Bastille’, ‘Schoenberg: a series in twelve episodes’, ‘Rien du Tout’ Cédric Klapisch) in charge of imagining the unprecedented holophonic sound experience of HY Opera, the first touring show with 3D Sound 5.1.In 2008, Ulrich also starts the collaboration with the Kazakh production designer Erwin Prib (2012 Academy Award Nominee through ‘In Darkness’, ‘The Patience Stone’, art director for 'The Reader' and ‘The Last Station’, German Film Award 2008) who already at that time gives impetus to the project with two key ideas for the HY Opera House: to extend the stage to a 360° experience and to link all the floors as a spiral.
Finally the year 2008 ends with one more strong stone to lay the foundations of HY, with the commitment of the legendary German choreographer Storm (4 time world champion bboying, Guinessbook of Records for the most windmills, opening ceremonies of Universal Expo 2000 and FIFA Wordlcup 2006, ‘Solo for two’ touring in more than 50 countries 160 cities) seduced by the creative insights as well as the social impact of HY.
A few months later, the newly-formed team puts on its first show at the legendary Maria Am Osbahnhof club in Berlin.
NEW VIDEO FROM STORM ON A SONG BY HY LEADING COMPOSER ÖTESINDE (2014)
KICKOFF SHOW AT THE LEGENDARY
MARIA AM OSTBAHNHOF CLUB, BERLIN
“HY not only blurs the boundaries between visual and performing arts, it has the chance to potentiate the expressiveness of each of them.” ERWIN PRIB, PRODUCTION DESIGNER
On 23rd April 2009, HY is launched in Berlin at the legendary Maria Am Ostbahnhof club (Modeselektor, Apparat, Beastie Boys, Autechre, Laurent Garnier, Justice, Gorillaz, Black Eyed Peas, ARTE Lounge, Festival CTM, movie ‘Berlin Calling’).
HY puts into practice its politic of offering a broad new audience the chance to discover a new generation of opera "outside-the-walls" of traditional stages, as close to the audience as possible. The Maria Am Ostbahnhof, wellknown both for its excellence in electronic music and as the most eclectic for all electro genres, is the natural choice for Ulrich to represent the diversity and the musical ambition of HY. Consequently, HY Opera starts auspiciously at club Maria, with the help of its director Ben de Biel, for a 2 1/2 hour Happening with the main artists and guests, before an audience of 350 people with an average of 32 years old.
That evening, the audience experiences a free-moving multimedia show on four satellites stages, surrounded by live cameras, VJ, 3D cartoons, electro-voice songs performed by the Berliner soprano Eloudie A. aka Friederike Harmsen (Staatsoper im Schiller Theater Berlin, Christoph Schlingensief ‘Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in mir’), with the French touch band Mellow (soundtrack for Roman Coppola’s sci-fi feature ’CQ’ and for ‘Novocaine’ starring Helena Bonham Carter and Steve Martin) and with the British producer and performer Tim Exile (WARP), combined with performances of five hip hop and contemporary dancers choreographed by Storm, joigned for the occasion by the Scottish choreographer Norman Douglas and the German dancer-computer engineer Mio (consultant for the interactive screen motion of HY Opera).
For its kickoff show, HY receives support both from cultural institutions (Tacheles, Hexenkessel Hoftheater) and from the media ("Tip Top" in TIP Berlin, articles from Berliner Morgenpost, Der Tagespiegel, Prinz, Exberliner, Ballettanz, Tanznet.de and radio interviews by Motor FM, Fritz and of Ulrich and the soprano Eloudie A. by Radio Eins). The leading European business school ESCP EUROPE also offers its support, with a team of five people working on the fundraising process.
After this single show, HY already counts a broad audience with 5000 followers on MySpace from 71 countries, of which 60 % from USA, UK, Japan, Brazil and Australia, with 95 % of people aged 20 to 35.
After the success of the show, satisfied at having tested everything he wanted, Ulrich decides to concentrate exclusively on his vision of the full HY Opera experience, leading the team on four years of intensive pre-production.
VIDEO HY KICKOFF SHOW, 23. APRIL 2009, MARIA AM OSTBAHNHOF, BERLIN
4 YEARS PRE-PRODUCTION FOR
THE WORLD’S MOST ADVANCED SHOW
“Throughout the years I have been involved in a diverse range of projectS all over the globe, technically as well as creatively. HY is different. It’s a ground breaking concept and it’s challenging our every step.” PETER MANKOWSKI, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
A new heavyweight joins HY Opera, convinced by the kickoff show at the Maria: the Swedish Peter Mankowski (former Head of Sound on Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam ; MTV Music Awards at O2 Arena featuring Beyonce, Foo Fighters, Green Day ; Berliner Philharmony with Sir Simon Rattle) who embraces the challenge and becomes technical director of HY Opera.
Ulrich and Mankowski spend the next four years working out the technical and planning aspects of 'HY Opera For The Masses' Tour - the first worldwide advanced dynamic, digital and interactive show, to worldwide - what is to become one of the most amazing experiences in the show history. They end up with a production plan filling 21,120 Excel cells!
In 2010, Zürich investment expert Carole Dupré La Tour (15 years experience in Finance with Crédit Suisse, KPMG, IKB Structured Finance, Unicredit) joins forces to monitor the business plan and the financial aspects of the project.
Then in 2011, Ulrich, identifies the right specialist for the HY Transportable Opera House: Benoît Probst (builder from 2007 to 2010 of the biggest show in the world, Franco Drago’s $250 million “The House of Dancing Water” in Macao ; director of the scenic workshops of the Opéra de Paris from 1999 to 2007) who applies his worldclass experience to finding a way to take the cutting edge structure to people town to town. Probst says “The challenge was to work with a lot of different contrainsts, and I had really to use my past experience in opera and big shows like in Macao and to bring them together to design this openspace accessible to everyone”.
Now, HY Opera, not only keeps its promise to give rise to a mindblowing new generation of show, but is also able to tour worldwide and give everyone the chance to see it. Eight years after the project begins, the two initial core objectives - artistic and popular - have been finally reached.
On the music side, in 2011, Ulrich meets the Kreuzberger music producer Taner Kalak (music for multi-platinum DMX, Busta Rhymes, Spliff Star; for Mika Kaurismäki’movie; for Atari Game; for world leading electronic music softwares company Native Instruments). Sharing the same vision, they create the duo ÖTESINDE (Taner and Kaplan aka Ulrich), exploring some musical experiments for HY Opera. Together with the guest countertenor Christophe Villa they start a creative process which leads to recording of a first song for HY “Battle Of Zephyr” released in January 2012. Follow ‘Crusaders’, ‘Kein Witz, No Joke’, ‘Quantum’, the eponym ‘Ötesinde’ and the recent pop ‘Say HY’, song of HY Opera trailer.
Now, HY, although being still undercover, is beginning to draw attention. In November 2012, HY receives the interest from the Forum d’Avignon, known as the ‘Davos of Culture’ where Ulrich is a guest, with the article ‘HY Transportable Opera House: reaching new audience’. In 2013, the weekly movie newspaper Écran Total hears about HY and publishes an article about the unprecendented transmedia experience of HY.
VIDEO HY CREW INTERVIEW FEATURETTE "THE MUSIC OF HY OPERA"
VIDEO "GLITCH" FROM STORM & MIO WITH ROBOZEE, IN DIRECTION OF HY (2010)
HY TRANSMEDIA SAGA.
STORY WRITING, CONCEPT ART & TRAILER
“HY IS UNIQUE. I HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE. IN THAT SCOPE, IN THAT TRANSMEDIA RANGE, TWELVE DIFFERENT MEDIA. A PUBLIC ENTERTAINMENT EVENT THAT WASN’T INVENTED LIKE THIS BEFORE. AND FOR ME, AS A CONCEPT ARTIST, THE MOST FASCINATING CHALLENGE IS TO FIND, TOGETHER WITH THE OTHER ARTISTS, A DESIGN WHICH WORKS IN ALL THE DIFFERENT MEDIA, PLUS IN THE DIFFERENT TIME LEVELS OF THE SAGA. AND THAT’S REALLY FANTASTIC! I MEAN, WHO DOESN’T WORK ON THAT!” AXEL EICHHORST, CONCEPT ARTIST
During the first five years of HY’s creative process, Ulrich thinks hard about what kind of total experience of entertainment one would expect to live today, as digital generations, which would make us dive both body and soul into a story and take away something deep and relevant from the experience. His passion and skills for media and interactivity lead him to imagine the experience of a saga through a diversity of media landscape, where each episode would be only told by one unique media, all interconnected in various ways. Ulrich invents an original narrative universe of 12 episodes evolving through and intertwined with 12 media including two feature films, graphic novel, video game, tv series, concept album, novel, live games and the HY Opera. The electro digital opera HY becomes the spine of the saga, touring worldwide during the release period of all 12 works from 2025 to 2030. HY becomes a unique, transmedia experience.
In 2010, to succeed this creative ambition, Ulrich, as HY's principal author, built a scriptwriting team on the model of the excellence of the finest American TV series scriptwring. Two scriptwriters from the famous French film school La Fémis, Alaric Perrolier (scriptdoctor CNC, Warner, EuropaCorp) and Loïc Barrère, as well as the sociologist Lucille Besombes, join forces with Ulrich and the philosopher Lacour.
Three years of scriptwriting the HY social science fiction saga on the theme 'Evolution' follow. HY’s ambition is to arouse, in each of us, the audacity to be ourselves and give meaning to our own lives, individually and collectively. The story covers the major stakes for humankind over sixty-year period, from 2030 to 2084, through the lifes of twelve characters. Each protagonist is alternately the main character of one of the 12 episodes, carrying with him a key thematic.
The L.A. producer India Osborne (’Taken’, ‘Zaytoun’, ‘Odd Thomas’ ; formerly with EuropaCorp) says of HY: “You remember when we first saw Star Trek, or we first saw Star Wars. We were nowhere near that and just like ‘Oh my god! That‘s what’s the future going to look like!’. HY is allowing that same kind of excitement, that ‘I wonder if, I wonder where’. HY is an opportunity for people to immerse themselves into whatever type of future, whatever type of life, whatever type of vision they would like to be a part of.” Osborne gets involve in HY in 2012 attracted both by the theme of the story and the unprecedented experience of the new generation of entertainment opened by HY transmedia Saga.
In 2012, after following the project for four years with Ulrich, the German concept artist Axel Eichhorst (concept art for the movies ‘Inglorious Basterds’, ‘Monuments Men’, ‘Cloud Atlas’, ’V for vendetta’, ‘Speed Racer’, ‘MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE 3’, ‘The Reader’,’The Ghostwriter’, ‘Anonymous’) starts a concept design process for HY, creating more than 50 draws for the saga. His first works are released in 2014 with the launch of the official website of HY Saga.
In 2012, Ulrich also looks for the right VFX partner to carry through the visual promise of HY Opera. Both for artistic reason and for the excellence that this VFX company puts in all its realizations, Ulrich meets with only the one he believes to be the right partner: Pierre Buffin, creator of the VFX company BUF (‘Nymphomaniac’, ’The Master’, ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Thor’, ‘Dark Shadows’, ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Spiderman’, ‘Matrix’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Enter the Void’, ‘The Fight Club’, ‘Alexandre’ and ‘Life of Pi’ winning 2013 Oscar for VfX). Buffin accepts a role in the HY adventure and in 2013, does the trailer for the HY Opera experience. The HY Opera trailer is released in February 2014, with HY Saga website built by Erwan Gringoire and his team playgrnd*, in charge of the HY Saga‘s digital constellation.
Osborne concludes “Everything about HY makes the most brillant person to the most simplest of beings feel though they are a part of something, you know, unimaginable. And we all have a certain intellect, there is a place for all of us we can all manipulate: where we go, how we get there, what it’s going to look like, and who we can become by being a part of it. And that’s what I love about HY.”
VIDEO HY CREW INTERVIEW FEATURETTE "THE SAGA HY"
LAUNCH OF HY TRANSMEDIA SAGA
WITH 'HY OPERA FOR THE MASSES' TOUR
VIDEO TRAILER 'HY OPERA FOR THE MASSES TOUR'