Our final performance was an exploration of light and inflation, where we would draw the audience’s attention between a slowly bouncing and breathing coral reef and a sea creature that slowly unfurled its tentacles. The performance began with the reveal of both the coral reef (with lights that ranged from purple to green in segments) and the sea creature (with all around the red lights). After initially alternating the light focus between the two inflatables, we then led into a reveal of the tentacles of the sea creature that eventually stretched out across the stage. Finally, after more light alternating between the inflatables, with a final chaotic explosion of lights, the piece ended quickly switching to all black.

Project Process and Development

Our concept initially began as an ambient piece, with the intention being that we would cover the walkways of the stage with a shibori coral reef that the audience would be forced to walk through to get to their seats. However, such a form factor posed many difficulties in terms of actuating, and in order to successfully make sure our fabrics were kinetic, we decided that we would incorporate a large coral reef inflatable around the stage which would be lit and actuated in conjunction with a stationary but interactive shibori fabric walkway.

Initial Coral Reef Inflatable Test

The other major twist to our project came with the addition of another team member, after which we identified ways to merge our project with this other ideated project centering around an inflatable actuated monster on the stage. Our project concept adapted to incorporate a tentacle monster that unfurl its tentacles and stretch to interact with the coral reef below.

Initial Sea Monster Prototyping

After initial tests, we had planned to cover the inflatables with small features resembling coral to add texture; however, as we were running out of time to the performance, Olivia suggested that we might use dyeing as a method to add texture to our piece more quickly. With her assistance, we were able to dye the coral reef and the tentacles of the sea creature to add color against the stark white of the inflatable cloth.

Coral Reef Inflatable Drying after Shibori Dyeing

Additionally, because of the challenges of finishing the walkways in time with the inflatables, we decided to incorporate the shaped shibori intended for the pathways as patches of color around the reef to add additional color contrast and texture.

Final Coral Reef Inflatable Test

Project Reflection

All in all, we believe our project was visually interesting, especially when related to the tentacle reveal on stage. Moreover, the dye job suggested by Olivia made the inflatables much more interesting and were a big part of making the performance much more interesting to watch. The biggest learning curve in this project was discovering exactly how much time was needed to create and practice the inflatables and performance; with better time management, we would have had the chance to test our project more during the rehearsals and thus have a better lighting plan ironed out (which led to some difficulties during the actual performance when the MIDI controllers stopped working).