ROYAL OPERA HOUSE INSTALLATION PROPOSAL 2009
SMOKE & MIRRORS
There are a number of levels to my proposed installation for the Linbury foyer at the Royal Opera House. The original brief talked about using mirrors as the central theme of an immersive walk-through design which would give the public a glimpse of another world.
I decided to split this into a number of stages. I wanted to use mirrors in a literal sense, but also wanted to create a world that reflected and echoed the theatrical language, history and experience of the Opera House as a whole.
This project gives its audience a 10 minute tour, through a series of simulated environments representing backstage, dressing room, on-stage, the world of the imagination and the world of illusion. I wanted to tell a story of sorts whilst also allowing the viewer to explore the various facets of each space for themselves. Each room has a slightly different style of design, which makes the discovery of each room all the more unexpected, as the path is slowly laid out ahead.
With such a piece as this, the quality of the experience is endangered by over-crowding. The intimate relationship that is necessary as each room is individually found and explored would be undermined by people pushing from behind or waiting in front. As an installation artist I have created a number of theatrical environments in galleries, often using sound to project a tone or idea upon the structural space. Given that the Opera House is a place in which sound plays such a key role it seemed ridiculous to consider making, what would in effect be a 'silent' installation. I then came upon the idea of using an audio guide as a tool to tell a story, provide extra atmosphere, operate as guide and instructor, and also provide a way in which to regulate the flow of people through the space, ensuring that the viewer always discovers a series of empty spaces.
Practically speaking, The audio tour would last about 10 minutes, spending approximately 2 minutes in each room. The track could be recorded onto the most basic personal mp3 player, of which there would be five in circulation at any one time, allowing thirty people each hour.
As well as using old prop mirrors, rehearsal and dressing room mirrors, I felt this would be the greatest opportunity to take advantage of 'Pepper's Ghost' the Victorian theatre trick using light and reflection to make it seem as though a ghost were onstage. It is the final image that the audience is left with before they finish their journey.
I want to provide the audience with a series of private audio-visual experiences, discovering each room, and in turn projecting a narrative upon the developing journey. I feel this installation would be fun, immersive, informative and a little spooky.
Will Holt July '09