Interactive Kinetic Light Installation, 2007 & 2008
Inspired by Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Flock is a large-scale interactive public installation originally commissioned by the ICA with the support of the Royal Opera House that premiered in Trafalgar Square in February 2007. Later in 2007 Flock toured throughout the South West of England, and was performed in 2008 in Liverpool as part of the ’08 Liverpool European City of Culture Celebrations.
Flock (a free event) created a “virtual Swan Lake” in the heart of the city where members of the public became â€œpedestrian performers” and embarked on a journey where fantasy and reality merged.
Each classical ballet features a ‘white act’ in which the hero usually comes into a realm where fantasy and reality merge. In Swan Lake a Prince encounters an enchanted band of Princesses – swans by day, women by night. Combining the romance and emotion of fairy tale with the classical groupings and lines of precisely drilled dances, this corps de ballet showcase seems the archetypal image of ballet to many people. As a dancer, the experience of working as part of such a large group to such bombastic music (usually Tchaikovsky finest) is also incredibly powerful. Flock will re-imagine this experience altogether with audience members becoming the dancers, the corps de ballet, themselves.
As the general public step into Flock they immediately realise that the seemingly innocent space is actually enchanted. The pavement is primed so that the moment a person steps into the space it will react. The technology detects a person’s presence and allocates each participant their own personal spotlight. Following the light they cast, each participant reveals a series of ghostly projections. These take participants on a journey through the real physical space and also the emotional narrative of the ghostly swan world.
What is a seemingly personal experience for the participant becomes something bigger when viewed from afar and by onlookers who form its audience. Each participant’s journey through the space is intricately connected to the group as a whole – ultimately creating a coordinated corps de ballet of pedestrian performers, as engaging to the bystander as the performer in the installation.
2007 Trafalgar Square, London, UK
2007 Plymouth, Salisbury, Taunton, Bournemouth, Truro, UK.
2008 Liverpool, UK
FLOCK was a landmark piece in the development of live digital art. It has received extensive press and media coverage including; Features in The Times, The Guardian, Time Out, Live coverage of the launch on BBC Radio 4′s PM Programme, BBC TV Breakfast News, BBC TV London News, and interviews on BBC Rado London and Capital Radio.
“Flock was a large-scale installation that saw the audience become performer. The ability to respond, be impressed upon and impress back offered a whole new realm for ‘live’ artistic experience”
From How Soon is Now: 60 Years of the Institute of Contemporary Arts by Ekow Eshun and Pamela Jahn.
“Flock is an intelligent, process based work with experience of its subject at its very heart. This is a significant piece in the transition of technology based work becoming public art and understanding all the challenges this entails in the maturity of live-digital art”
Vivienne Gaskin, Director of Performing Arts and Digital Media at the ICA.
“Last night’s moonlit production of a “virtual” Swan Lake, in which the audience became the dancers to Tchaikovsky’s music, showed that Trafalgar Square has become one of the capital’s stages.The scope that it offers for innovative events such as this ballet adds something new to London life… the support from the Mayor and the archtect Lord Foster for the transformation has now been vindicated.”
London Evening Standard, Editorial.
“‘Flock’ is a daring and exciting dance project – a little audacious, perhaps, but presenting an interesting idea of artistic creation and participation. Those that step into the spotlights, even for just a moment, will indeed experience Tchaikovksy’s music unlike they will ever have before. It is a strange and unusual experience, and at times it can be as unsettling as it is exciting… the concept of ‘Flock’ is something that certainly deserves further exploration for the artistic future of dance.”
“I reasoned that I would go and take a look but leave it to younger pedestrians – much less removed from their dancing days than I – to join in the fun. But within moments of arriving in Nelson’s back yard, I found myself drawn to the magic square of light like any other moth to the flame. I stayed for several iterations of the ten-minute cycle… There were generally at least 40 people on the “stage” at any time – with ages ranging from 8 to 80 – and all with a smile on their face as they tried to hold on to their ballerina’s fleeting presence in their own spotlight. There were even people cycling across the stage â€“ not a common sight in Swan Lake… everyone had such fun.”