Case Studies Yum Cha Arts | RAF Case Study (2021)


Cloudlines is a vehicle to enable artistic collaboration across distance, across artforms and across generations.

This application was to support phase 2 of the development of Cloudlines.

Cloudlines is a mixed reality, multi-artform production, devised by 3 experienced Northern Territory artists, and 6 young and emerging NT and Malaysian artists. Cloudlines is a vehicle to enable artistic collaboration across distance, across artforms and across generations. Cloudlines employs social media, virtual and mobile based augmented reality platforms, and live and pre-recorded sound to transform the performance space and create a collaborative/networked performance where traditional theatre/storytelling techniques are blended with contemporary art forms. The final production was accessible in both a physical space and online.

Yum Cha Arts is a Project Grant recipient via the Regional Arts Fund as managed by Darwin Community Arts.

Over a 6-month period the creative team developed narrative, performative, and digital elements for the multi-artform Cloudlines work. Gathering online, the team collaborated from their bases in Darwin, Melbourne, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Drawing upon their particular expertise, the team focused on the creation of 5 virtual reality scenes which built upon the concepts from the first Cloudlines development in 2020. On the 22nd of January 2022, the Cloudlines team presented the 5 VR scenes to a small test audience of 8 individuals who each accessed the work on headsets in 8 different locations (Australia and Malaysia). Each audience member traversed the first 4 scenes concurrently before gathering virtually in the ‘multi-player’ finale where they were able to interact with each other and bring about the scene’s conclusion. This presentation was followed by a feedback session that offered the artistic team valuable insights that will be taken into consideration when carrying out the final stage of development.

The test presentation of the VR elements demonstrated the strength of the concept to create an intimate connection for the audience with the work, the ability to create connection between dispersed audience members, and the ability to create connection regardless of cultural, language or physical barriers.

Impacts

Nine young and emerging artists engaged in creative experimentation, extending their creative practice through the application of new technologies and collaboration across new artforms. Designer Kris Bird found an opportunity to extend their skills in 3D modelling and architectural design by learning how to design in Unity, mentored by the project’s Unity developer Steven Voon. Steven’s skills were extended through his work realising the project’s ambitious concepts and technical functions in Unity.

Artist Stephanie Martin learnt how to translate visual art concepts into a 3D environment through her work with designer Kris Bird.

Dancer and choreographer Luvenia Kalia learnt how to utilise motion capture technology to translate her performances into the VR environment and contributed to the visual design of the animated dancers in VR.

More broadly the deeply collaborative nature of this project exposed participating artists to the creative processes of their team members, enriching their understanding of all the elements that comprise the Cloudlines mixed reality experience.

The range of ages and levels of experience represented in the creative group provided an opportunity for mentorship and professional development between collaborating artists. The artistic team had the opportunity to develop meaningful connections via online collaboration during a time of increased stress and isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having a positive impact on their wellbeing.

Creative collaboration between Australia and Malaysia provided the team insights into the diverse cultures represented by the group and acted as a site of rich exchange. This project has fostered close working relationships between artists and will no doubt lead to future collaborations between the artists working in Malaysia and Australia.

The project exceeded our expectations. The project’s central goal of eliciting a feeling of human connection from its audience during the final ritual scene in VR was realised. In this scene the group of 8 audience members meet and collaborate to achieve a spectacular outcome. The scene is entirely non-verbal and sensory rich. The combination of sound, image and movement elicits a feeling of connection that the audience members reported to be surprised and moved by. This was a great achievement and breakthrough for the creative team.

Applicant location: Darwin NT

Project location: Darwin NT, Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia

Amount of RAF Support: $20,000

Leveraged income: $74,991

Total project cost: $98,335

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9 VR2 3 Memory spheres far view with hands
Memory spheres far view with hands. Image credit: Fiona Carter