On May 17, we paid a (surprisingly pleasant and handbasket-free) visit to Hell — more specifically, to Dante’s Inferno, as one of the Insectotròpics‘ invited guests. Between May and September of this year, the “Insectos” (a Barcelona-based theatre troupe) are organizing a series of collaborative theatrical/performance events at the old Fabra i Coats textile factory (now art centre), one for each cantica of Dante’s Divina Commedia, in which they invite other artists to participate. This first voyage, to Hell (Un viatge a l’Infern in Catalan), included more than a dozen artistic groups (musicians, sculptors, video artists, painters, dancers, actors and more!), and lasted five hours on a Saturday evening.
We (the Wú Collective) contributed live imagery using two different versions of our Teatrillu software. For the event, we were fortunate to be joined by illustrator Riki Blanco, who provided graphical designs (drawings and cutouts) for us to animate.
One of our setups consisted in a “traditional” Teatrillu, making live stop-motions and other animated effects under a webcam, based on hand-made drawings and cutouts. The output of these minimalist animations was fed to a TV on the Insectos’ video wall, as well as to a makeshift viewer we made out of an old wooden drawer, a tablet, a macro lens and some cardboard and aluminum foil.
A second Teatrillu program received input from the first (over the local network, using TCPSyphon), and then manipulated it with further effects. Alex experimented with projecting “my” world onto the pages of a book, at other times masking it with hand-drawn (or infrared-projected) shapes on a whiteboard, at others still adding little flames to all its shapes. It’s a little hard to describe — basically we played and explored for five hours, adding our few small drops of Wú flavour into the overall cauldron of chaos.
One thing we missed was interaction with the other video groups and painters — we’d hoped to send our outputs to others for further manipulation, as well as receiving their feeds (and hand-made imagery or even photo print-outs) to use as source material. Hopefully in subsequent events this can happen — in the end we mostly kept to our own little corner (of hell). As often happens, everyone was really busy getting their own things ready until the last moment, and there wasn’t time to plan for more dynamic interaction between groups, as everyone had hoped.
I made a compilation of various short movie clips I recorded, as we worked our way through the nine circles of hell. Sorry about the audio and video quality, they were just recorded with a little compact camera, but it may give a vague idea of what we were up to that evening…