Haltrece our beast at the Bohoball 2010
Tested on site
Extracted the essence – filtering light containing light thickness looking up through down
Structured of mesh needs structure
Holdings of light screenings of light filtering light exquisite potential of project
Tugging on its strings brings in to life
Explore puppetry possibility
Bring it to life
We created a multifaceted environment that consisted of a large-scale puppet overlayed with projection that was captured live on camera and cast overhead. This design was shaped to and by the site, the people and the conditions of the night. To suit the performative environment our design intended to engage with the night specifically and yet transform with each new encounter throughout the night. Being a layered design it offered a number of possibilities: movement, shadow play, imagery, role play; a spectacle.
On the Night
The night rolled on, like the whirlwind of a merri-go round,
Carnival, secrets, mayhem…
They frolicked and played, through laughter and dismay, the headiness of the nectar in hand
The wheels turned, and the oils burned, time was still for few
Haltrece, proud and true, sometimes overlooking the view,
Sometimes bucked and galloped and grew
The flashes were endless and from all angles, no glance or touch was spared
A twist of arms, a jiggle of shoulders, they moved amongst the roots
Every story must unfold, every pose must behold, let the silhouettes tell their story
A moment of tenderness, nestled between the leaves, the lovers took their respite
When the lights dimmed and the music swelled, Haltrece grew even more brilliant, and he swayed as creatures do
Grab a limb grab 2 limbs, lets see how far he can go!
We designed a facilitative environment, which allowed guests to be a part of the setting; interacting away from the crowd but not separate from it. Although it had strong intentions, the designed program required participants to interpret and personalise its function. However, the changing conditions of the night heavily influenced their actions. For instance, the lighter the room was, the less populated it was. This instigated more direct movement of the puppet back and forth, in the direction that people moved along the thoroughfare.
Conversely, during the darker and more populated periods more intimate interactions occurred. Rich projections filtering across the dance floor intended to sweep people’s attention towards the scene while the ceiling projection was an extension of what was occurring in real time. It was a platform for the performative, a spectacle for the viewers. The shadow surface which participants used as the screen for their performance was delicate yet mechanical. Parts of the puppet held the projection and parts of it threw out shadow. With a complex skin, the materiality of the puppet encouraged a unique collection of interactions.
We tested. We tested. We tried. We failed. We stood. We wobbled. We tumbled. We fell. We stopped. We thought. Re-Drafted. Re-Tested. Discarded our failures and took from them, threads. We tied them together and the weak ones they broke, those with strength, stood strong, stood tall. Haltrese was there all along, emerging, showing us the way. With a small torch, we follow. The mesh would grip us. Tickle us and nip us. This way, and that way. What on earth do you want?
Along the way, we watched a show. With a masterful chef and taxidermist in tow, for a medieval feast, they stitched a collection of beasts, and made some kind of Cocantrese. We watched this show, in our lounges, in each corner of Melbourne, stitching mesh for something unknown, growing our own kind of beast.
A moving image was used to light her, To house and ignite her.
The animation moved from strong colours and patterns that saturated her form causing her figure to disappear; through to more subtle imagery with stronger light, which set the scene for shadow play. Parts were mechanical, with slowly turning cogs activating a shadow that blocked out her form. In parts it became all about her, where her own image was cast onto her form, the projection causing her to gallop, she galloped and bucked. Parts were adventurous where she explored a spiralling tunnel. It became a playground and a habitat for all.
And there you have it. Haltrese emerged. She’d pushed and she’d pulled. She stomped her eight feet. We said “Yes”. She said “No”. We stepped in line and did what she asked. She shone on the night, she knows what’s right. Who say’s no to a sixteen feet beast?
And they didn’t! Participants focused on entertaining their immediate friends and viewers. The environment was generated by play with the various elements of the puppet with an emphasis on shadow play. Many people ‘walked’ the dog while others chose to swing the barrel. The collapsible structure held an element of surprise as it transformed from a fully expanded mechanical mythical creature to a compressed form reminiscent of a shimmered aquatic personality. Scenes of swordfights, firestick twirling, duets with microphones and dances under the canopy all generated a unique landscape.
To quote Dorita Hannah and Olaf Harslof: “Design artefacts – whether objects, materials, occasions, environments, or still and moving images – are inextricably bound to performance through notions of embodiment, action and event. Within them stories are told, forces are harnessed and roles are played out.” We feel that our design throughout, be it the materiality of the puppet, the methods of engagement with it, the costumes that we wore, or the moving images that we created embodies this – both literally and figuratively.