[Splendour In The Arts 2011] Curious Creatures
Like Jordana Maisie’s Close Encounters, Curious Creatures comes out of Splendour’s arts development program, Splendid, which mentored New Media artist Jimmy McGilchrist and programmer Darryn Van Someren (co-founders of brand-new South Australian-based interactive media company rezon8) through the development of this interactive audiovisual installation. Essentially, a giant screen will be erected along the festival grounds, onto which sensor-activated digital shadows will be projected – as if large creatures were present on just the other side of the fence.
“There’s an array of infrared sensors, looking out at the audience and analyzing the real world environment,” McGilchrist explains. “They see where people are and what they are doing and then feed this information back to the computers, which then manipulate the graphics of the creatures. [So] the audience will generate the narrative, like a documentary.”
There will be five Curious Creatures, each with very different personalities. “There’s a dominant alpha male who is more aggressive towards audience members. We’ve also got a mother and a baby: the mother is quite doting on the baby; the baby is quite shy and will only interact with people who are more passive and crouch down to it.”
As part of Splendid, McGilchrist did a reconnaissance mission at last year’s Splendour, where he ran an analysis of the space and crowd. “What we found is the people at Splendour are after primitive, emotional experiences. Everything there is massive and all the musicians are highly skilled and tuned-in to manipulating emotion and providing heightened experiences. People want to just be in the moment and forget about everything else. Audiences will be in an altered state of mind already and Curious Creatures will push that a lot further along towards a surreal experience.” To heighten the immersiveness of the project, a soundtrack of creature cries and noises will be heard throughout the day as well as at night.
“We’re hoping to really scare and shock, and make people laugh. Hopefully over the three days people can come back and get new and unexpected experiences each time.”