Theater Production, Creative Direction Team
Official trailer for the collaborative multimedia production of Peer Gynt at UC Santa Cruz, Winter 2013, editor: Lisa Banks.
As co-creative director of the Digital Arts Research Center (DARC) Visual Design Team for the UC Santa Cruz production of Peer Gynt in March 2013, I assisted in the oversight of a production design team of 12 artists in designing and developing media installations for an interdisciplinary theater production.
This impressively extensive production, directed by Kimberly Jannarone, involved a dozen interactive media-based installations in the Digital Arts Research Center at UCSC. For two weeks in March, the DARC was transformed into a living performance space where actors engaged directly with their audience using digital media as their communication device. More information for the project can be found at TheGyntProject.com.
As a co-creative director, I worked alongside fellow Digital Arts & New Media (DANM) graduate students Danielle Williamson and eve Warnock, as well as other conceptual designers, visual artists, sound artists, professionals, and students to facilitate the execution of the concept and media installations in the DARC.
As an artist I designed the Peer Gynt logo, which proliferated in various forms throughout the production, along with a series of 'propaganda posters' promoting the character Peer Gynt. I also developed the concept for one of the play's scenes, The Peer Review, as well as created the scene's video content.
The Peer Review - scene concept and media design
In this scene, set as a talk show, Peer Gynt is interviewed about the insidious business ventures undertaken by his company, Emperor, Inc.
I conceived of the scene as being designed after the interview scene in the film Natural Born Killers, with an intense emotional build that reveals the disparities between how the interviewee and the audience view the interviewee's emotional state.
The staging of the scene further played on the themes incorporated from the film - the scene was set in a small media theater, complete with a cameraman and live video feed, my projected media design, an original soundscape, and of course a live audience.
The Peer Review video
This video was projected behind the interview stage in The Peer Review scene. The images represent of Peer's thoughts and desires, which often contrast the image he presents to the audience.
The precise pacing of the scene demanded a system for cuing the video, which Justin Zupnick, our sound designer, developed in Max/MSP. A button interface allowed the live camera operator to cue clips in time with key moments of the scene. The scene builds in intensity to an emotional crescendo, enhanced by the interplay of live performance, video, and sound.
Peer Gynt logo design
In accepting the challenge of designing the logo for the Peer Gynt production, the image of the onion seemed a natural choice as it was an essential metaphor to the show. The onion represented Peer himself, and the concept of peeling off layers represented an attempt at self-discovery. I felt that an image of an onion would be more appropriately universal to the production than an image of a person's face. I added the crown to acknowledge the false pretense that Peer's character operates under, a self-appointed king of his own strange domain.
The logo appeared on the program, walls, costumes, and props. The Frack Lab scene, designed by eve Warnock, incorporated the logo on the Fracking technician's lab coat and bottled Frack water. Specially printed Emperor, Inc. money also featured my logo design and was incorporated in one of the show's interactive performances.
Peer Gynt propaganda posters
It was important to me to contribute to the visual campaign for Peer Gynt, and I felt that propaganda posters would be a great way to play with the warped self-image of Peer Gynt's character. The posters exalt Peer as the representative of his company, Emperor, Inc., positing him as a pseudo-military leader to be trusted and only slightly feared. The posters were displayed throughout the DARC building during the performance, integrating the production into an otherwise non-theatrical space.
Peer Gynt performance and gallery installation
Selected photo documentation of my propaganda and logo posters installed in the DARC during performances of Peer Gynt and in the Peer Gynt gallery show.
The Art of Peer Gynt, at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at Cowell College, UCSC from April 7-21, was a group exhibition featuring costumes, concept art, soundscapes, media installations, and other ephemera created by the enormous team of artists and designers that contributed to the production.
View a video of the gallery show and reception on The Gynt Project website