3.6.11

Samuel Beckett's The Lost Ones in 3D

Artists and technicians recreate the world of Beckett's short story
(Image: Unmakeablelove team)
Samuel Beckett's late prose works have often been adapted for the stage, with varying degrees of success. One notable exception was David Warrilow's interpretation of The Lost Ones, involving a miniature model of its closed world and the scores of figures that populate it. More recently, a team of artists and performers have designed a virtual world they call Unmakeablelove, attempting to present  strange and abstract environment of The Lost Ones using 3D technology. The performance / exhibition / interpretation was presented last week at the Hong Kong International Art Fair, where Wendy Zukerman reported (my thanks to John Roach for the link):
Grasping onto a torch I peer into a world of naked bodies. One grimaces at me and bangs his head against a wall. Others hardly stir: instead, they stare at the ground in despair.

I am gazing at the virtual world of Unmakeablelove, a 3D interactive simulation based on Samuel Beckett's short prose work The Lost Ones, in which a group of people are enclosed within a narrow cylindrical world, left to shuffle and search pointlessly within its confines.

In the artwork, this pitiable world is rear-projected onto the walls of a 5-metre-diameter enclosure inhabited by 30 bodies, half the size of humans. Each body represents a character in Beckett's text: the Searchers who actively thrust through the space looking for an escape, the Sedentary who lethargically slouch, and the Defeated - "for whom all hope is gone", says Sarah Kenderdine at City University of Hong Kong, who created the work with Jeffrey Shaw.

The bodies beat themselves, and examine each other for birthmarks of identity. "Very rarely they collide in a frenzied sexual encounter," says Kenderdine.

Their lifelike movements were created using motion capture. This technique, commonly employed in blockbuster films like Avatar, captures movement by placing visible markers on an actor wearing a tight, dark suit - allowing a camera to track their movements.

The characters' behaviour is driven by computer algorithms, allowing their actions to change based on the surrounding bodies. "So it's different every time," she says. For example, in Beckett's original, an estranged husband and wife have a sexual encounter. In Unmakeablelove, only when these characters are in the vicinity of each other can the encounter occur. [Read more]

Performance

A brief clip from the Unmakeablelove website:


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