Gibson/Martelli & Peut-Porter join forces to re-stage a Mixed-Reality version of the 1919 Chelsea Arts Club Dazzle Ball. After five years of war, and inspired by the naval dazzle-ship patterns, the original Ball applied zig-zag motifs to costumes and set design, playing with audiences vision and perception. It was a one-off event that focused the era’s artistic and social energies so intensely that it immediately spawned copycats in Washington DC and Sydney, and secured its place in today’s cultural history.
Embracing participatory forms of theatre and inclusion with Mixed Reality, VR and AR, we situate our Dazzle Ball in the 21st Century. Our audiences engage in changing virtual environments, bringing to life colourful net-art and post-internet aesthetics. Individual experience emerges alongside collective understanding.
Dazzle offers attendees the chance to find their agency in virtual worlds uncovering and interacting with choreographed digital set- pieces and live improvisations. Procedurally generated costumes allow audiences to join the exhibition — coats, masks, capes and hats offer an introduction to the dazzling landscape. The visitor embarks on an expedition, fully prepared and supported to explore alternate realities — participants diving in and out of sensual and visual optical illusions, distinctive and part of the spectacle. Live dancers and audience members are modelled as animated dazzle characters, assembling in the virtual worlds.
Highly customisable, the Dazzle tour can leverage maximum value from each venue and community, curatorial practice determining the scope, size and specific focus. Partner venues can programme the exhibition with local visual artists, dancers and musicians invited to contribute.
The large scale Dazzle exhibition is an immersive modularinstallation a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total artwork) which ties together the dazzling theme. Each element builds on the concept of converting an audience member from a passive spectator into an active participant, beginning at the entrance where visitors dress in adaptable dazzle costumes, blending them into the installation itself. There are numerous opportunities for interaction and engagement moving through several experiences, including Augmented Reality masks, live performance, projection-mapped staging, spatialised sonic environments and Virtual Reality.
Dazzle Ball is a ticketed evening event, a costume party reviving the joyful spirit of the original. Live music, fashion shows, performances and a Dazzle Bar contribute to the festive atmosphere. The Dazzle Ball animates the vernissage and finissage.
The Live VR experience offers participants the chance to enter the virtual world, invited to take part in choreographed sequences and improvisations with dancers. Here the dancers duet with the visitor, sensitively ‘listening’ to their responses and driving the interaction. Technically the participants wear backpack PCs, HMD’s and trackers on their hands and feet. This setup gives up to five participants an avatar body, enhancing the sense of presence in the virtual world. Our two live performers wear specialised mocap suits enabling them to control ‘digital doubles’. Being together in the same tracked space means that the participants can see the virtual ‘doubles’ and in turn, the performers can respond to participants in realtime – extending touch out of and into the virtual space. Music and technology playfully encourage dance and interaction -performers and avatars blending with the audience in a live virtual reality performance.
Education will be a core part of the touring exhibition. We will provide a menu of programmable curator- and artist- led activities grouped into four strands:
1. Artist and curator led talks:
Gibson/Martelli share their research and process in creating immersive virtual realities.
Peut-Porter present the history of the fashion show and performance in fashion, costuming and masks. Changing forms of curatorial practices, leaders in the field discuss new forms of audience engagement and performance.
History of the Dazzle ships and artistic practices and movements, talks including Futurism & Vorticism leading to the creation of this unique Naval camouflage.
Music: Turn the graphical patterns of the Dazzle Ships into tonal sequences and musical scores led by electronic musicians.
Dance: Learn the dance steps of 20’s and 30’s – led by professional dancers; this envigorating social activity aimed at all ages.
Mocap & VR Lab: Experiment with technologists & choreographers using dance, VR & motion capture.
Camouflage: Learn about today’s machine vision and how to hide from surveillance with Peut-Porter teaching the screen-printing principles of camouflage patterns & materials.
Zero Waste Pattern Cutting: Make your own dazzle outfits using geometric shapes for an eco-conscious audience. Dazzle Makeup: Take face painting to another level, playful and easily replicated at home, we anticipate one activity aimed at children and families & another aimed at young adults and activists concerned about facial recognition systems.
Dazzle Ship Painting: Work in miniature, participants create new dazzle patterns or replicating existing designs on model ships, testing them in our seascape simulator.
The team members have an established track record in delivering workshops along similar lines, planning to recruit local artists to provide these activities and talks. The style of the workshops is creatively shaped by the Dazzle project concept.
3. Curated film screenings respond to the exhibition: for example, Fashion on Film, the Bauhaus, the Imperial War Museum Archive, Analivia Cordeiro’s body of work.
4. Artist-led walkaround tours of the show. Experience the exhibition led by an artist.