To begin our research into immersive art Sarah and I went to Waterman’s art centre to see UnReal: XYZ / s, a performative guided tour on Friday 18th March. When we arrived the carpark smelt amazing! It was going to have to be curry for lunch. When we reach the gallery we found we were a little early for UnReal so first we investigated What’s in a Line by Andrea Tierny.
We hadn’t known that What’s in a Line was open, it was brilliant surprise as it was really interactive in very accessible ways. The exhibition is part of a growing body of work by Tierny that explores the line. She explains the line is constantly occurring in our lives and much of our lives wouldn’t exist without it. For example astronomers have used it to calculate time, artists for perspective, musicians for compositions, rail and roads for travel. What’s in a Line shows the line in many forms and then allows for interaction with these. This included wire, projection, music and painting. Sarah and I really liked the wire tapestry, All wired up! there was telephone wire available for the viewer to build shapes with and add to the tapestry that other viewers had began. This was so simple yet so effective, everyone can take a telephone wire and create a shape or object with it just by bending it and these all added together created a really deep texture full of surprising shapes and objects. The second interaction that we enjoyed was the projector which was accompanied by a box of different shaped acrylics, they reminded me of bits of Spriograph pieces. You could place them and moved them around on the projector to create different shapes and patterns on the wall. Again it was great as it was so simple for the viewer to do and it created fantastic images really quickly for them to enjoy. Finally we added our own mark with a picture of a line. The cards to draw on were tile sized and these were put onto the wall to create a large collage of all the viewers line creations.
One concern Sarah and I have had about participatory art is that some viewers may be put off by it as they might feel like they don’t know what to do. All of todays interactions were so easy that I can’t imagine anyone would have felt that way and they were all so effective.
After a very delicious curry lunch in the Guru Tandoori Kitchen (we recommend it strongly) we headed off to the Studio for part one of UnReal: XYZ / s from Architectural Association Interprofessional Studio. UnReal: XYZ / s is a multimedia performance and installation which explores the viewer’s perceptions of space and time using dance, video, sound and performance. The Studio was a dark space with four performers within. Through dance they created a temporary structure which they then walked in circles elevated from the ground which they invited the audience todo towards the end. Sarah and I participated in this, the performer approached me with the straps he was using to move the structure and I took over followed by Sarah and the next audience member. I must say neither of us felt very comfortable about this as we aren’t performers so feel quite vulnerable on stage. The music stopped and so did we eventually, we were meant to stop when it did but nobody indicated to us to. The performance then moved into the Theatre where we were sat on the stage with the performers then sat facing us in the theatre setting. There was lighting and images of our selves being projected onto sheer fabric in front of us that divided the stage and seating while music played. I am sorry to say that Sarah and I left at this point as both of us felt very uncomfortable on stage being filmed (which they hadn’t asked permission to do).
We both certainly learnt a lot from UnReal: XYZ / s. Interaction needs to be on the viewers terms, they should be given the option to take part or not. We both feel it is really important that our immersive space is visually immersive without interaction and even more immersive with. We also learnt to not assume that they will know what to do, like us not stopping. This is what What’s in a Line demonstrated really well, keep the interaction simple so it’s approachable for all.