Curious Creatures - Australian interactive art to inspire South African audiences
Jimmy McGilchrist, a young Australian innovator in interactive digital arts, is attracting broad international attention for his Curious Creatures project. This augmented reality artwork will engage festival audiences of more than 250,000 at this year’s Vryfees arts and music festival in Bloemfontein (10-15 July).
Curious Creatures is an interactive, sensor-driven work that creates life-size shadows of strange and beautiful creatures roaming behind a fence, projected on a 3m-tall by 15m-long screen. The creatures’ sounds are broadcast throughout their environment, responding to the presence and behavior of the festival audience. As audience members approach the screen their shadows also appear and the creatures interact with them, transforming the audience from viewer into performer.
This large-scale augmented reality projection combines animation, gaming and sound design, and finds a compelling application for new interactive technologies.
Curious Creatures received international recognition during its exposition at the Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass in 2011 and was also shortlisted for the SXSW Interactive Awards in Austin, Texas in March this year.
Vryfees Festival Director Adri Herbert, opened this year’s festival program by saying “the most important question we asked ourselves in the planning Vryfees 2012 was what we could show South African's that they had never seen before. This is how the Curious Creatures installation became a reality for us, with the help of the Australia Council for the Arts. It is a first in South Africa.”
According to Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, HE Ann Harrap, it is a great privilege for an Australian artist to be showcased before such a large festival audience.
“The Australia-South Africa relationship is underpinned by strong commercial engagement and significant people-to-people links. We are also seeing an increasing number of cultural exchanges between Australian and South African artists, musicians and writers. These types of cultural exchanges are not only significant for the individuals involved, but are extremely important for strengthening institutional linkages between the two countries,” Ms Harrap said.
Kathy Keele , CEO of the Australia Council, said “This is an extraordinary moment for Jimmy and his team, and a rewarding one for the Australia Council. We’ve watched and supported this incredible work as it’s progressed from an artistic idea, to research and development, through to full scale production, and we now watch as it takes to the world stage. It is a testament to the perseverance and hard work of Jimmy and his collaborators and it’s wonderful to see it enthusiastically embraced internationally.”
Curious Creatures has been supported by The Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body, through the Splendid Arts Lab, an Australia Council initiative for young and emerging artists where they work together in a cross-disciplinary creative development lab making artworks for massive festival audiences. The appearance of Curious Creatures at Vryfees has also been supported through a $10,000 Hopscotch grant from the Australia Council.
Jimmy is an artist, entrepreneur and co-founder of Rezon8, an Adelaide-based interactive company exploring art, technology, entertainment and marketing to engage with people in public spaces. He was also part of the MEGA Entrepreneurship Masterclass program for mobile, digital and ICT industries, where rezon8 was launched under the mentorship of Gavin Artz at the Australian Network for Art & Technology. Rezon8 was also one of the eight companies selected to be part of the PushStart Startup Accelerator program held in Sydney in 2012.
Curious Creatures will be projected day and night at Vryfees from 10-14 July, and Jimmy will present workshops on 11 – 13 July for festival-goers interested in art, animation and marketing and to be involved in the process behind this interactive artwork.
Applications for the next round of the Hopscotch live art touring initiative close 20 July 2012 – see the Hopscotch guidelines for more details.
See more details about Vryfees 10-15 July 2012 in Bloemfontein in South Africa at and tweets from the festival from Ricardo Peach, Director Inter-Arts, via @interarts #CuriousCreatures and #Vryfees2012.
Contact: Cameron Woods, Communications Advisor, Australia Council for the Arts
Phone: 02 9215 9030