Workshop introduced by Nelly Ben Hayoun: ‘Nelly Ben Hayoun is a director and experience designer from France, living and working in London. She designs experiences for you to become an astronaut in the living room, generating dark energy from pigeons’ eggs in the kitchen and colliding atoms in the bathroom, while a replica of mount St Helen’s is erupting on the couch…’
For more of this text or Nelly’s work please follow the link..
This workshop began to mention a couple of references;
‘the blue sky above is is the optical layer of the atmosphere, the great lens of the terrestrial globe, its brilliant retina. From ultra-marin, beyond the sea, to ultra-sky, the horizon divides opacity from transparency. It is just one small step from earth-matter to space-light- a leap or take-off able to free us for a moment from gravity.
But the horizon, the skyline, is not only a launch pad. It is also the very first littoral, the one which absolutely separates ‘the void’ from ‘the full’. Unremarked invention of the art of painting and the distinguishing a ‘form’ from a ‘background’, the ground line anticipates from afar the marine shore-the ‘Azure Coast’, the horizontal seaboard that so often causes us to lose sight of the zenithal perspective.’ Paul Virillio Open Sky
‘Creating a fictional location has many advantages for the writer. You get to name the town, streets, businesses, schools etc. Everything inside your town us under your control.’ Dawn Arkin, ‘What Should Your Story’s Setting Be.”
The brief states that as a group we are required to create a fictitious island of our own, based on research into observing the environment, as well as researching relevant references of others who have done the same. As a group we had to separate into particular roles in order to touch on all of the important pillars of a society. this island would ultimately become the dawn of a new community. These pillars were stated as the following: Political, finance, geological and communication. I chose to take the role as the ‘Geological’ representative so I began to respond to brief by researching existing fictional city states.
Zion- The Matrix Films, which is built based on the cataclysmic nuclear war between human kind and sentiment machines. This has created artificial lifeforms that dominated the world.
I started to look at the location of Zion. It was built 400 kms below Earth’s surfaces, just above the Earth’s matle. The city is entirely cylindrical and involves many levels which incluse: Council chambers, gathering surfaces,geo-thermal generation, intermediate areas (the core of the city). Life support level, which provides life support in the form of water, warmth, air etc to the city’s population. Living quarters which takes up the entire central middle section of the city and provides shelter for all Zion’s population. The Dock and the Temple levels.
The Matrix Films-directed and written by the Wachowski brothers -1999
Lord of the Flies- William Golding-1954
It’s a novel about a group of school boys who are deserted on an island as a result of a plane crash. The plot is based upon the aftermath of the crash and the boys attempting to govern themselves with terrible results. The book illustrates a deep understanding and insight into societal pressures and the dark side of human nature.
The link to Episode 1 Season 1 of LOST…
The popular TV show ‘Lost’ was another means of inspiration for myself. The whole concept of a random group of individuals stranded on a remote island, all with a different set of ideals made me think. The concept of the show was that all of the different individuals, and all of their different thoughts, went a long way to determining their existence on the island. Not unlike Lord of the Flies, the show instantly draws a requirement for a hierarchy, which can be seen in the role taken by Jack, when he begins to order to people round. I found this interesting as it indicated that regardless of the situation people find themselves in there is always the need for a leader, a shepherd if you will.
People were placed in the position where they didn’t have anything but themselves and what they could salvage from the wreckage. I found this fascinating as the concept behind my island was to investigate the animalistic tendencies of humans, and the human nature of animals. It was focussed on the greed which we find ourselves surrounded by in modern culture, and to support our belief that everything that is negative in the world, such as war for example, is the direct result of this greed. This stance was mirrored spectacularly in the series ‘Lost’. Their civilisation, much like in Lord of the Flies, came crumbling down when people got greedy and wanted to usurp others into the positions of authority and power.
Based on the research on other fictitious islands I realised that a fictitious island is often created as a result of a negative situation. In the matrix films it was a war between humans and machines, in the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ it was a plane crash and a change of dynamics between a group of people. We wanted to similarly observe the negative aspects of our current society and build upon them, change them and alter them. We also looked at finding solutions for the island in order to create the ideal society. A utopia! This helped us determine the strategies on how to build norms, beliefs and values.
The island was created for those who have the genuine mentality required to live or be on this island, and that being that people are not greedy and like us, have the passion to want to change negative aspects of our modern day society. A symbolic ritual was discussed to be required for a human to enter our world. The ritual would involved somebody ironically and quite literarily eating money in a forest, close to nature with the intention that ‘money is not everything in life’.
So we began to design and develop the costumes that would be worn to illustrate the hybrid process from human to animal.
Research and inspiration for this process of evolution from human to animal..
Works by Lucy and Bart and to view more please follow the link below:
More visual references…
-By Camille Cortet
She is a French designer based in Amsterdam. Her work is mainly inspired by nature and she is often challenged by the idea of transformation and tries to find the common ground between human and animals.
Inspiration book, for more follow the link of Camille Cortet’s website.
The performance of the Fictional Island
In the end we decided to perform the island by having a ‘narrator’ who was not on the scene but read powerful material to support the story line. we had nature-like sounds so we considered audio as well as visual. Kim and I performed by dressing up in the bird outfits that we had created and tried in the performance to really stress the transition form being human to becoming an animal. The fears of not understanding what is actually happening to you during this change. Feelings feathers really break your skin while you sit in pain watching them appear on the surface of your body. Loosing your voice and growing a beak. Suddenly the way you feel and express yourself is entirely different to what it used to be when you were a human.
The piece was more of a metaphorical performance that can be interpreted in many ways.. And this was mainly inspired by the Ballet- Black Swan
Kim and I played the parts of the two humans that have entered this world and found one another and were going through the metamorphosis together and they suggest through interpretive play the confusion and fear they were both going through during this. So Let the imagination take you…
And we came third in the competition which was great! Really enjoyed working with my group, thanks to Kim Leong, Laura Buchner and Julia Skergeth!!! And of course Nelly Benhayoun!