In our installation, the audience takes an active part in allowing our visual interpretation of the sea to thrive and unfold. We aim to ask audience members to engage with the piece through movement, which they will see reflected gradually in the developing scene of the ocean before them. This requires careful thought from us – How do we make the work meaningful while doing justice to the beauty of the ocean and the urgency of the problems at hand? How do we ensure the piece is accessible enough to connect with audiences and ensure their time and effort are brought to life through the interactive nature of the work?
To find inspiration for the latter, we have been researching rituals throughout human history – asking audiences to perform a ritual that borrows from cultural practices from cultures across time and the globe. For instance, in Japanese culture, fishermen pray to Ebisu, the God of the seas and prosperity, before they talk to the seas. Another example can be found in the traditional Yoruba religion of Nigeria, where the Goddess Yemanja, protector of women and patron saint of rivers, is also believed to be the guardian of the sea. In examples like these, we aim to identify the types of bodily movements done by worshipers in order to gain insight into how we may develop our own rituals.
We are also researching ritualistic movements used for self-healing, with the hope that if we are able to elicit change from within for an audience member, it also echoes outside. For that, we are using Tai Chi and Qi Gong as a reference, as their movements are very expressive and therefore easy to track with a motion capture system. The last and most important of our inspirations are the gesture patterns that phytoplankton perform: being passive with the waves of the sea yet possessing fast, active movement of their ‘pili’, the little hair/paws around their bodies.
A major part of the next phase of the project will be to test and choreograph these sets of movements to create our own ritual for the audience to engage with.