During the Chinese New Year festivities, visitors to Federation Square will have the opportunity to take part in an interactive, multimedia event, Electric Dragon. Melbourne artist Georgie Pinn has written and created an animated fable about Fang the Dragon, a morphing, eclectic beast who must travel the world to discover his identity. The starting point is a film, but audience members then become characters as they go onstage, design their own dragons and, in real time, animate the creature with their own bodies behind a shadow screen. Combining traditional shadow puppetry with high-tech motion tracking, this is an experience that is both emotionally and physically engaging. We spoke to Georgie about creating the show.
How long does it take to create a show like Electric Dragon, and what was the most challenging aspect? I have been working conceptually on the project for more than a year, but obviously my creative journey to bring me to this has been a much longer story. There are two really challenging aspects. The first is the time-consuming aspect of the animation and the intensity of work it requires to make just seconds [of footage]. This is a labour of love and one of my favourite things is the challenge of breathing life into inanimate objects and images and giving them personality. The second was the preliminary tech development for the interactive side of the project, but I’ve been lucky enough to study with and learn from some great creative technologists.
This is another iteration of your Electric Puppet project. In the past, how have you found adults and children differ in their interactions with the animation? It’s become clear there are no restrictions. It’s more about how much you want to be involved and where your imagination takes you. There are different virtual triggers that do different things to the dragon and his environment. However, this project is a narrative-based play, so although younger ones will be quicker to discover the payoffs of the interactivity, the adults will tend drive the story more with their movements.
You do everything on your projects, from creating the technology to writing your own music. How important is it to have complete creative control over a project? Are there times when you want to invite collaboration? It’s true, I am involved in every layer of the project and I do feel that is integral to how it evolves. I have always been a multimedia artist who makes and uses sound FX, music, performance, video, animation and digital installation/projection as my palette. I do think it strengthens and consolidates both the aesthetic and concept of a project when one is self-sufficient and able to play and experiment independently. However, I have also directed and collaborated on many projects where you jump even further to the next level creatively through learning and inspiring each other. A fresh perspective is majorly important to balance out the “bubble mode”.
Electric Dragon is the latest commission by Fed Square’s Creative Program. You can see it at the Main Stage from 26 February to 1 March at 8pm.