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Wednesday 2 February 2011

Technologically Augmented Theatre @ Tenderpixel

Preview by Bethany Rex

Scapes opens next week at Tenderpixel in London. A new project part commissioned by Tenderpixel, Scapes is a new installation by media arts collaborative Squidsoup. Scapes conjures into being three-dimensional cities, landscapes and abstract architectures purely from sound, software and light. These visions occupy physical space, but only fleetingly. They leave nothing behind when they, and the sounds that spawned them, vanish.

Discussing theatre, dramatist Antonin Artaud used the phrase ‘virtual reality’ in 1938, some forty years before Myron Krueger coined the term ‘artificial reality’ with reference to the computer-controlled interactive environments he pioneered in the 1970s. Squidsoup updates the field’s multimedia potential, commenting on the creative and immersive possibilities of light-based real-time visualisation in physical space.

Tuned software and specifically designed sounds are used to generate a series of abstract landscapes visualised on a bespoke room-sized 3-D grid of lights controlled in real-time. As the sounds are played through speakers and picked up with microphones, the visual process can be interacted with- intercepted, corrupted and altered by visitors making their own sounds to interfere with the original audiovisual designs.

Scapes is a conceptual environment with no physical existence. It unites visitors to the gallery in common experience, allowing them to interact in unexpected ways through different mediums. By bringing into play discussions surrounding the autocracy of the artist, this project authors a new narrative technique, which allows for the interactive and emergent features of the mediums to be fulfillingly embodied.

The installation itself is a room-sized 3-D grid of individually addressable points of light (Ocean of Light) that is controllable in real-time to simulate objects and movement in physical space. This custom hardware enables the creation of dynamic, interactive, three-dimensional sculptures from light. The resulting imagery has a presence, a location in physical space that allows the viewer to move around and experience the work from any angle.

Evoking new conditions of interactive narrative and its possibilities, autonomous narratives are embodied in each element. On the other hand there is the hyper-narrative of interactive relations and experiences that is effected by the viewer’s explorative journey within the virtual environment. Squidsoup’s work combined sound, physical space and virtual worlds to produce a technologically augmented theatre where each performance becomes a unique retelling.

The work has been show at numerous festivals and galleries around the world including Glastonbury (2010), Kinetica Art Fair (2010) and at the V&A (2008) so if you haven’t had the chance to immerse yourself in the Squidsoup experience, then now is your chance.

The exhibition opens on 10 February and continues until 5 March at Tenderpixel Gallery, London. Please see www.tenderpixel.com for more information.

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