The 3rd of September Ruinart presented Retour Aux Sources, an immersive installation that combines art and artificial intelligence.

In September 2029, Ruinart, the oldest champagne house, will be celebrating its 300th anniversary. In the lead-up to this important event, each year from now on, Maison Ruinart will commission a new artistic or architectural project in Reims that integrates sustainability into its innovation and creativity. 

It all begins today with an immersive installation created by a duo of up-and-coming artists, Mouawad Laurier, who achieve surprising results by sustainably combining technological innovation with art.

SAKMA, in close collaboration with Maya Mouawad and Cyril Laurier, has designed, developed and produced all the elements housed inside these unique pieces of art, which aim to generate movement, light and sound.

Using mechatronics and lighting technologies, these pieces will be learning and interacting for the next 10 years.


The artistic project Retour aux sources is the brainchild of a pair of environmental artists known as Mouawad Laurier, and marks the beginning of the 10-year countdown to the 300th anniversary of Maison Ruinart on 1 September 2029. 

The work takes the form of a root planted in an ancient crayère chalk cellar. The root listens to what is happening within its natural surroundings above, and immerses the audience in a visual and sound experience 30 metres below ground. Deep inside the earth, where there used to be an ocean, the audience is confronted with the physical and temporal character of humanity. 

The root, endowed with sensitive intelligence, listens to the natural elements involved in the champagne production process through a device that uses complex artificial intelligence. It reminds us that human beings and nature are intrinsically connected. 



Mouawad Laurier is the collective name for two artists who work and live together. Maya Mouawad and Cyril Laurier have been collaborating on innovative artistic projects together around the world for many years, working with other artists under the name Hand Coded. 

His works often integrate complex technology and artificial intelligence, as well as other components such as sound and music.


Retour aux sources is an autonomous entity that inhabits the crayère chalk cellar, and is able to perceive the world around it due to artificial intelligence. 

Through data coming from the different phases of winemaking, as well as data generated by sensors of wind, temperature, atmospheric pressure, rainfall and so on, the AI analyses and detects seasonal changes, variations in the weather, etc.

Depending on the season, and data received, the root will react in different ways to the key indicators that are given, generating genuine emotion in the visitors who experience it.



Dozens of meters below earth, there is a place where time stands still: the Ruinart crayère chalk cellars, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

A vine draws nutrients through its roots, acquiring all the minerals it needs to live. The root is also a complex network that offers vine plants a way to communicate among themselves. A root is there- fore full of meaning. 

The sculpture presented here is of a root feeding on a network of neurons, and emphasises the conscious intelligence of nature. This root is planted in chalk, because the elegance of champagne and its complex flavours all derive from chalk. 

Each hand-crafted Murano glass bubble represents the importance of the minerals and water that feed the root. These pieces generate the effects of light that evoke caustics (refractions of light that occur in water). Sound devices also move through space.

Seeing these light effects reminds the viewer of the ocean that once engulfed the chalk walls that stand in the cellars today. 

The result of both sedimentation and fossilisation, the thick chalk layers took millions of years to form. Since ancient times, men have dug out this chalky soil by hand to shape incredible underground cathedrals. 

In one of these cathedrals, the root has been installed and a series of elements coexist, transforming this unique space into a dynamic, visual and sound experience, which remind us to our human condition.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is used to give the root an idea of its environment and temporary existence. The type of data it feeds on allows the root to express the present: an instant and constant flow of information through the seasons and passing years. Provided with its own character and ability to learn, the root continuously develops how it communicates, becoming more sophisticated as time goes by.

The root feeds on data from the living world that it then expresses in its own way using light, colour and sound, as well as movement and rhythm. Its current state reflects what is happening around it, as well as outside, in the vineyards, tanks, cellars and bottles. 

The root is connected to the Internet and a set of sensors, so it can analyse and synchronise with what is happening in its environment. 

The root feeds on organic data from any given moment, comparing it with the data it already has stored. It provides its own interpretation of its current environment, whilst challenging how the onlooker perceives it.



Client: Ruinart
Curated by: Benoit Baume
Direction: Maya Benainous & Stephanie Huerre
Original concept, design, music composition and animation: Maya Mouawad & Cyril Laurier
Lighting engineering: Salvador Mauri · SAKMA
Ledotron development: Maya Benainous & Joan Sandoval
Artificial Intelligence: Cyril Laurier
Motors and kinetic technology: Julien Bodart, Philippe Ducouret, Louis Perrin & Philippe Resch from Mecaoctet
Pictures/Video: ©Maison Ruinart · Guillaume Faure · Easy