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2019
Undercurrent

One by one, audience members are led into a fragile dome that feels as if it was submerged to the bottom of the ocean. They are instructed to lie down on the bed and to let the visuals, soundscape and voice-over wash over them.

I created this audiovisual installation together with Tristan Visser and Amarylis de Gryse for Explore the North.

When the visitor enters the dome, they hear the voice of a woman and see a queen size bed. Literally, the visitor steps into her home; figuratively, they step into her head. In the world she lives in, there are two types of people: landpeople and seapeople. It becomes clear that the woman used to live with her boyfriend, who is a landperson. He left her to go back to the land. She dearly misses him and contemplates following him back to the land which is now a very unwelcome environment. The problem is that she suspects that she is a seaperson. She simply can’t choose and her thoughts go back and forth. The visitor enters the installation alone and is invited to lie down on her bed. This creates an intimacy and emotional connection with the woman. Around them, they see the interior of the structure which is made with tracing paper. Upon this, we project rippling waters and blue colours. The idea of being submerged is further emphasized by the soundtrack, which features waves, bubbles and rippling water that travels around the dome and the visitor within. The soundtrack plays in a loop and the visitor can enter at any moment and exit when they feel ready.

The creative process

We didn't know each other at all beforehand and just started off sharing our visions of the future. For me it was quite a refresher as I usually write and direct my own material, and I'm not used to working together at a concept stage this early. We spent five days talking, listening, and yes, also quarreling every now and then. It was interesting to see that although this slowed down the creative process it also ensured the quality.

We also experimented with different brainstorming techniques, such as giving each other 7 minutes of speech time, during which non of the others were allowed to talk, and then the attention would move on to the next person. Then during the next round, people were allowed to give feedback on each other's ideas. Another useful technique was to only respond to the things we liked about each other's ideas, thus ruling out negativity and putting our focus on the strong points.

 

After a lot of constructive debate we finally agreed on a concept that all of us were very excited about: we all share a fascination with the ocean and it felt natural to take this as our arena. In our future vision, people are forced to live underwater in dome structures. As the visitor enters the space (individually!), they see projections of water and hear a sea soundscape. The visitor is invited to lie down on the bed and to let the experience wash over them. A voice-over shares the thoughts of the inhabitant of this room: a woman who is torn between her desire to follow her man back to the surface, or to stay underwater. The question we try to evoke is: do you choose for change, or do you stick with what you know?