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Spiers, A., Oshodi, M., 2020.

Flatland

Output Type:Performance
Venue:Dilston Grove, Southwark Park
Dates:4/5/2015

Flatland is an innovative immersive performance that was developed to create a theatrical experience that enables both sighted and visually impaired audience members to undertake the same experience through the use of digital technology. It was led by robotics engineer and research scientist Dr.Ad Spiers, Yale University, Janet van der Linden, Open Universities Pervasive Interaction lab and Extant, a UK performing arts company. The project was awarded 125,000 from Nesta's Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, Access to Work and the Open University "Higher Education Innovation Funding and Creative Industries Fund (Netherlands). 104 participants were invited to the pilot installation, which took place in March 2015 at Dilston Grove, Southwark Park.

My contribution to this project was to design and make the costumes for the performance in collaboration with Alexander Ruth. The costumes played two integral roles within the performance which led to the technical and conceptual success of the project. Much of the technology needed to direct participants through the set the was housed within the costumes. Conceptually, the costume added to the narrative of the piece where audience members were transported into Flatland by dressing in the suit which housed the technology.

This project investigated how costume can transform the audience's role from that of observer to participant by placing (physically through sensors and conceptually through narrative) the audience at the centre of the performance. Initial research for this project began by looking at flat packs with the idea of something 2D being transported into 3D, this was supported by visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum to research Japanese clothing and the Barbican Centre to research modular building techniques. A series of prototypes were made at various scales and discussed at length within production meetings. Materials and mechanisms were tested on location in conjunction with the technology.

This project advanced the nature of interactive/immersive performance by dressing the audience in specifically designed costumes rather than adapting ready-made garments and accessories.