A Colossal Wave!

Published: Tuesday 5th December 2017 by Courtney Farrow

Comments (0)

Ever wanted to try virtual reality? Well, now’s your chance!

London-based design studio Marshmallow Laser Feast has combined immersive technology with the urge to be playful to create A Colossal Wave!

A Colossal Wave! is part of Substance Festival, a twelve-day celebration of culture, creativity and technology in the north.

Robin McNicholas, Artistic Director and Founder of the company behind U2’s showstopping light performances, spoke with HEY Today about this immersive and thought-provoking piece.

Firstly, can you explain a little bit about what A Colossal Wave! is all about?

The heart of the project is about human impact. We have worked with an illustrator, a virtual reality (VR) company and a 360 sound organisation to create this piece.

We are currently living in the Sixth Extinction, the Anthropocene. As humans, we play a huge role in this and we don’t even know about it.

So we connected an indoor and outdoor experience that could open up a conversation about our impact on the planet, as well as introduce VR to the general public in a fun, engaging way.

So what can people expect from the installation?

The indoor part is at the C4DI. Here a portal can be viewed with a VR headset. This portal looks out to the outside world. Your body disappears and you become an angler fish. As you sing, you create what we call a ‘voice fruit’.

Interesting! And what exactly is a voice fruit?

For this installation we have created a database of artworks sculpted especially for VR. A different artwork is assigned for each note, pitch and frequency. As people sing, we analyse the frequencies and pitch of your voice and clusters of these artworks are produced in real time.

Sing for long enough and these odd-looking creatures appear in the Colossal Wave outside…

And what happens at the outside installation?

You encounter a very slapstick scene of four umbrellas and a giant tower. The umbrellas are your window to seeing the voice fruits generated inside.

Meanwhile, from the giant tower, you are allowed to drop a real bowling ball onto a gong. In the VR world, this creates a huge wave, full of the voice fruits.

Wow, it sounds incredible! Do you think that this is going to send an important message about human impact on the environment?

The whole aim of this piece is for people to be curious about what is going on. Dropping a bowling ball from a great height allows audiences to fulfil a childish temptation, whilst the VR side gently introduces them to technology that they may have been nervous about previously.

We are very conscious of the Age of Distraction; the media is saturated with bad news and distressing scenes of global disasters. What we have done with A Colossal Wave! is twist the conversation slightly.

Whilst we’re going about our everyday lives, there’s a 1 million square kilometre garbage vortex in the Pacific Ocean. We find it extraordinary that not many people know about this. However, it is important to stress that we’re not trying to criticise or point the finger at anyone, we’re trying to continue the conversation and engage people.

At the same time, we wanted to create a public artwork that could be enjoyed. This is a people’s problem and we want to embed it into everyday conversation.

What would you say to someone who has never experienced VR to encourage them to try it out?

What we’ve done is produced a very ‘techy’ experience and hidden it to make it very visual and human. It starts with the basic thrill of throwing a ball from a great height.

The VR part is actually quite private, so it’s perfect for those who may feel a little awkward or nervous about trying it.

This kind of thing has been occupying the digital art scene for a while, but we have brought it into the public domain so it can be enjoyed by all.

A Colossal Wave! can be experienced until Sunday 10 December. The installation is open 12pm-10pm on weekdays and 10am-10pm at the weekend. To find out more about this unique installation, please visit the Hull 2017 website. 

Enjoy more Hull and East Yorkshire news on HEY Today

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Published: Tuesday 5th December 2017 by Courtney Farrow

Comments (0)

Local business search