2020 – Moving image installation with live performance, sound and virtual reality.
The exhibition combines dance with dazzling optical illusions. Recreating the optimistic, rebellious spirit of the 1919 Chelsea Arts Club Dazzle Ball at the Royal Albert Hall and featuring eye-catching costumes inspired by WW1 naval camouflage. The VR experience invites audience members to dance with performers shifting between virtual and live choreographies. In the worlds of the dazzling ball, dancing avatars meet against striking black and white backdrops. To enhance the exhibition, each audience member wears a zero-waste bespoke dazzle costume, complimenting the dancers’ custom-designed mocap suits. The original Dazzle Ball reflected the popularity of Vorticism, futurism and dadaism
— DAZZLE captures our post-internet, post-truth society, testing the boundaries of interactive performance.
A tour is planned for 2021
Concept & design: Gibson / Martelli + Peut-Porter.
Exhibition, Graphic & Motion Designers: Oliver Wrobel & Piero Glina.
Music & sound designer: Paul Steinman.
Dance Captain: Hannah Burfield. Principal Dancer: Harry Alexander. Dancer and Assistant: Francesca.
Costumier: Luz Mabel Flores.
Executive Producer: Dan Tucker.
Supported by Digital Catapult CreativeXR / ACE
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.
Moving in Virtual Spaces
One of the main ingredients of DAZZLE is the dance, our choreographer Ruth Gibson began by researching social dancing of the time. The post WWI dance styles included Ragtime, Charleston, Waltz and Tango. We introduced our dancers to these styles and all of the dazzle concepts, influences and artwork, prompting them to create improvisations from these rich sources. Movement ‘flavours’ evolve from these interpretations — we work with expert dancers from well-established companies; Percussive sounds and rhythms help to piece together specific steps. For the tour, our dance captain Hannah will work with local companies to teach the material, accompanied by the principal dancer Harry, who will assist choreographing each scene.
Pre-recorded movement data is collated via a motion capture process. (Mocap is a special effects system where a performer wears special markers which are recorded by the computer as points in space, typically for use in 3D animation or games).
A library of dancers’ phrases and choreographies develop in the animation pipeline, and these formations in the game engine are loosely derivative of Busby Berkeley and his spectacular ensembles. Our performers re-learn the movement material from their avatar animations instead of from each other or video recordings.
The animations consist of palindromic loops meaning that dancers recall and memorise the material playing both forwards and backwards. Through this process, the dance language becomes fragmented and different rhythmically, and the design of of the body avatar whether a mocap skeleton, or an abstract figure, or rendering, gives a different physicality. Perhaps ‘a new body’ emerges through this technology.
Zero – Waste
Peut-Porter craft costumes for both the Dazzle live performers and the audience – allowing visitors to fully join the costume ball. Dazzle clothing and masks extend into alternate realities (AR) offering opportunities for selfies in mirror rooms before diving into VR worlds. Dressing-up in real-life introduces and physically recreates the virtual act of inhabiting an avatar in VR. Costume and digital double begin joyfully influencing motion and self-perception, bodies distorted and reassembled, allowing an embodiment of the surrounding dazzle environments.
The team are working towards procedurally generating ‘razzle-dazzle’ patterns which are digitally printed onto fabric. In workshops, attendees participate in creating costumes, cutting and assembling capes, shoes, masks and more. Reflecting the next-gen sustainable fashion practice, the zero-waste pattern cutting technique is used – all parts of the cut fabric become part of the design. The workshops introduce the current trend of lending and renting clothes, the concept behind Dazzle fashion is to design for the experience age-old models of consumption rethought and presented to the public through this playful approach.