V&A

Edward Gordon Craig

Nov. 25, 2010

AllofUs created an interactive installation for the Edward Gordon Craig: Space & Light exhibition for the V&A, encouraging visitors to develop a rich, and embodied understanding of Craig's innovative concepts around space, light and movement in theatre set design.

Starting out with a 6x6 meter box we created two accessible entrances, one on each side. As visitors entered the box and adjusted to the darkness inside, a 'radio play' made up of archived recordings of Craig, as well as archived material recited by an actor, played through speakers.

Cutting diagonally through the box interior was a 3x2 meter calico stretched screen, with Craig's set model for the play 'St Matthew's Passion' on one side, and a bespoke 160cm long interactive theatre model-box on the other, complete with wooden blocks, figures and light lenses. Visitors were invited to arrange these architectural props into a physical Craigian stage set composition, whilst a realtime 3D render would project their every move onto the calico screen. This impression of manipulating and designing a real-life set allowed visitors to interpret Craig and his pioneering design work in a playful, intuitive, and interactive way.

The real challenge for us was working out how to convert the position of physical objects on the table to positions in a digital 3D space, and to then convert those to shapes on the backdrop. To solve this puzzle we custom-built a unit and fitted it with infra-red emitters and receivers, which could read markers printed onto the bottom of the physical set pieces. These 2D marker coordinates were sent to a Unity 3D application, which positioned them in a 3D space. A front-on camera view of this 3D scene was then used to create the final scene projection.

The installation opened at the V&A in September 2010, where it remained until March 2011 before travelling to Gallery Jaroslav Fragner for the Prague Quadrennial in May/June 2011.

Having an interactive as the central focus of an exhibit was a new approach for the V&A – one that we were keen to support. In fact, it was so successful that AllofUs designer Daniel Felstead and exhibition curator Kate Bailey presented a paper at the EVA London 2011 Conference that used the Craig interactive as a case study to explore new modes of interactive engagement within the museum domain. An accompanying essay was included in the Conference Catalogue.