by • 5 Nov, 2013 • Buildings, ExpositionsComments (0)6936

Space (and presence) as a medium

EyeWalk is a tablet tour that turns the building of the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam into the stage for a movie. The carefully crafted script by Godmother Films uses the architecture of the building as one of the media to tell a story about suspense in movies. Even the random visitors you bump into while walking the tour (headphones on, tablet in front of your face) act as extras in the experience. It’s an extremely well produced tour/film/game. 15 minutes feel like 5.

Papa Sangre II is a survival game for iOS played only with your ears. It has you walking around your living room (or airport lounge or wherever you are playing) with your eyes closed following sounds, occasionally screaming (this doesn’t do anything, but I cannot help it). Papa Sangre is all about space and the suspension of disbelief. Again, it’s well-produced and one of the most exciting ghost rides I’ve been in in my life.

Years ago I was blown away by the exhibition Intimate Strangers in Foam. Two strangers, one audio tour, a darkened space and little headlights to explore the art. Intimate indeed, as I moved through the space tied to someone I didn’t know. It’s still one of my favourite exhibitions of all time, and one that can easily be scarier than zombies. I even remember the name of the artist on display.

It’s still a long way from being pushed around the Old Vic Tunels by make-believe riot police and not being entirely sure if you’re still part of the play you paid for, but I love it how handheld devices allow us to turn space into a medium when we’re telling stories. As the biggest medium ever devised, space is probably one of the most powerful ones as well.

Presence is the twin brother of space in the examples above. I felt quite self-conscious when I pushed through a group of people having their Friday afternoon beer with my EyeWalk on. Papa Sangre challenges you to “get up” and take a firm stand wherever you are. Intimate Strangers, well, couldn’t have happened without present strangers. Our Days of Rage, the play I referred to, used the audience present in many ways. You had to be there, no hiding, no lagging behind. Intense.

I’m starting to realise the greatest gift smartphones cs. bring us is that we can take skilled storytellers and creative storylines everywhere. The stage is no longer limited to the stage. Forget about access anywhere: who really cares about your opening hours when they’re in the middle of an exciting spacial experience?

Most museums are places defined by space and – to a large extend – presence. Theatre has you sitting down (most of the time), an exhibition moving around (most of the time). Maybe it’s time to turn space and presence into a medium, rather than merely a precondition. For an example of what this could look like, do a EyeWalk next time you’re in Amsterdam or close your eyes and play Papa Sangre in your gallery tomorrow. Enjoy!

Header photo by Alex Schneider.

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