Bulging, Squishing, Touching, Chopping, Swimming, Flapping, Deflecting…
These actions and many others were on display as part of the audience response to Blister Cinema #1.
Blister Cinema #1 was designed to work on several levels. As an interactive show in itself and it received almost 500 visitors in three days with a lot of enthusiasm from all types of people, so that was good. It was also part of GEEK and hopefully we added some free game like diversions as part of the fringe. Several people told us they thought there should be more things like it (or large scale interactive video games) as part of the main GEEK festival and we agree – consoles can only get you so far, games have been expanding beyond the screen and beyond joysticks ever since they began.
The show was also an experiment for us in how we are going to make the commissioned film. We wanted to look at different ways in which people engage in front of projections, and how you would go about filming that. What type of engagements worked in the context of a filmed narrative along the lines of the inflammation process. This has been a bit harder for us to work out – some parts of the final film will be scripted / choreographed, some parts will be improvised along narrative lines, and we’re hoping that some parts will come about by the crazy random things that people do. Running seven projections in a space certainly gave us plenty to witness.
Finally the show was a chance to connect again to the creative community of Margate – perhaps the most important outcome is that we have made some links to local groups of makers/do-ers/artists who will hopefully come on board the Blister Cinema project and create some sort of bespoke performance as part of BC#3 which is back in Margate in June. We’ll shortly make some open call type announcements about this which should be exciting.
Where’s the science?
We planned to give a series of talks on inflammation and about the Silent Signal project in general but these didn’t happen as people were just coming in randomly. If we want to do these in the future then it’s important to structure a visit to include a talk and hopefully demos and workshops. We need to target audiences well in advance which we didn’t have time to do for this show. We want to build this into the Blister Cinema and Microworld projects in general whenever we do them – its clear that there is an appetite for teaching creative coding and we talked to several parents complaining about the lack of these activities at schools despite the recent curriculum changes. We’ve been thinking about how to modularise some of our artworks so that we can create different narrative segments for interaction (by reusing the same code and graphics in different combinations) for use in the film, and this should also lend itself to creative coding workshops where people can create their own interactive artworks or performances. The project has been useful in this way in encouraging us to think more in terms of a fuller creative engagement beyond just interacting. The science was present in the overall feel of the room and the various references to Cells, Pathogens and there was information around for people to read. We need to ramp this up in the future.
Technically we got to grips with the 360 degree camera and remote filming of the space. In the past we’ve found it difficult to fully document what’s going on in the spaces and the energies created so hopefully this is a step forward. Of course we’ve included posters informing people they are be being filmed – nobody seems to bat an eyelid these days. It’s always charming to be asked by people if they can take photos – of course they can. Engage with the art in all ways possible!
The liquid light work looked stunning. We can’t wait to work out how to combine this technique with the interactive footage to make a new combined aesthetic which could well be at the heart of the film.
We didn’t have time to fully explore the Randome construction technique but still created some large structures 3m across. With so much else going on in the room the domes weren’t particularly immersive, and filming them could be tricky. Perhaps it is a matter of scaling the dome up to be really immersive. As structures they are impressive – as projection surfaces less so – we’ll experiment with lining the inside in a smooth latex surface next time. This is a tricky one – we want people to be inside a blister but the difficulty of construction and projecting well into a dome may be taking up too much of our time relative to what they deliver visually for the film. We shall see.
We had a range of works of different levels of complexity on display from actual games (the first we’ve done) with hi-scores and rules, to more organic open interactions such as Growthline. Both worked fine but the joy of self discovery is always going to be higher in the simpler more intuitive interfaces. Growthlines was shadow driven, the Pathogen Swimmer driven by Kinect silhouettes and a fair bit of instruction, and there is a difference in terms of the physicality of the experience. The shadows just work but you can’t augment a shadow very easily – and you certainly can’t make the shadow be swallowed by a Macrophage so we will proceed with both techniques. What you can do with both is make simple physical movements of the audience trigger interactive events. So bulging a line, pushing a cell, swimming through plasma, bouncing off of vessel walls and these simple actions were what worked best. We were struck by how the CellBall game deflecting cells left and right based on colour was analogous to a laser beam scattering off leukocytes in a stream of blister plasma. Without thinking about it we created a mini human cytometer. So from now on we’re focussing on the verbs of the inflammation process for the next shows – and some of the more complex ones – Hunting, Engulfing, Eating, Arresting, Rolling, Swirling, Pushing/Pulling, Squeezing through etc… and trying to work out how to bring these interactions to life.
The central focus of the film has thus become about the physical interactions involved. And the parallels between the use of the body in interactive art spaces and the use of microscopic physical processes inside the body itself.