Interview with IPI Intern, Paul Pichon

Paul began his internship at IPI in February 2009. He is completing a Masters degree in “Physics methods for the Materials of Cultural Heritage”. While at IPI, he is doing research for his dissertation on characterization of motion picture films.

Paul PichonName:
Paul Pichon

Where were you born?
Saintes, Charente-Maritime, France.

What was your professional training?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in history of art and am now completing my Master's degree. I am still a student so I have not started a “profession” yet. Last year I did an internship at the Musée d’Aquitaine in Bordeaux which is a museum of “Art and Civilization”. I really enjoyed working there.

What was your very first job?
I think it was helping my father in his pharmacy, doing inventories and stuff like that. My first job with a real paycheck was in the factory founded by my Grandfather, called Sobodec, that specialized in glass decorating.

What would your dream job be?
A job that would allow me to have a home close to my friends and family but a job that also includes travelling around the world. And since it’s a dream job, I’d like a lot of fun and a lot of money. For my real job, I’m interested in curatorship and preventive conservation.

When and how did you hear about IPI?
One of the research scientists of my University (Bordeaux 3 – Michel de Montaigne) worked with Jean-Louis Bigourdan (research scientist at IPI). When I told him I was interested in working in motion picture film preservation, he advised me to contact Jean-Louis.

Why does preservation matter to you?
Because I think the better way to keep track of the people that were there before us is to preserve the objects and works of art they did.  They are physical signs of the culture (of which they come from) and we should do our best to understand and preserve them. It is said that it is better to know where you come from than to “forge ahead”.

What is your favorite work of art or your favorite artist?
At one point I wanted to be an architect, so I’m really interested in architecture, especially in medieval architecture, from the churches of the late Antiquity to the Gothic cathedrals, which really fascinate me. This is a kind of “Total Art” that also includes mural paintings, sculptures, and stained glass… And there’s a lot of other art stuff I love…

What other hobbies or significant interests do you have?
Visiting museums, buildings, the countryside, watching movies and some TV shows, hanging around with friends, and discovering new things. I’d like to have time to do horseback-riding again.

What book (or books) would you take with you to a desert island?
It’s a hard thing to tell...I guess I should mention the book I love, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, Voyage au bout de la nuit by Celine, Les liaisons dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos, the novels by Nick Hornby and Nancy Huston. But I don’t usually read twice the same book. Maybe it would be a good occasion to go through the Bible and the Divine Comedy by Dante. And if I can I would choose old illustrated manuscripts for both of them! Maybe I’d like to have also Garfield comic books by Jim Davis to make me laugh because I don’t think I would be very happy on a desert island.

What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t want to say my laptop because if I could change for a better one I would do it at once. But, there are a lot of things in it (pictures, music...) that I’d like to keep. Maybe for now my most treasured possession is my DVD collection. But I hope one day I will have other things to treasure more.

What is your greatest indulgence?
There are a lot of things to eat and drink, but I can’t resist ice cream!

What was the most surprising thing to you about IPI?
People are committed to their research and dedicated to the objects. It seems like they care more about their work than furthering their own career. Even though, their research and publications are well known in the field, no one is heavy-headed.