XR: CIIRKES / Extraordinary Circus: Creative Immersive Interdisciplinary Knowledge ExchangeS

Lead Research Organisation: University of Brighton
Department Name: School of Media


Project: XR: Creative Interdisciplinary Immersive Knowledge ExchangeS - XR: CIIRKES/Extraordinary Circus. XR is the term currently used to refer to a wide range of contemporary immersive technologies such as VR/AR & 360 film. In this context we use it for projects that might combine a range of these tools and techniques alongside other technologies involving data and human interaction in the elaboration of novel experiences. The term XR also used to evoke the innovation and experimentation at the heart of this project through allusion to a notion of 'an extraordinary circus'.

The project primarily seeks to address the question of : What innovative creative content and emotionally impactful audience experiences are possible if we bring together academics specialising in haptic, interactive and immersive technologies with circus and street arts directors and performers. A further question will be explored through the collaborative partnership which is to identify the potential national and international market and exhibition possibilities for the resultant work as both live experiences and as digital products.

The project will provide the infrastructure to support a team of academic researchers, technicians and artists in a series of creative co-laboratories - facilitated directive workshops & studios. These laboratories will provide the context within which expertise can be shared in the collaborative exploration of the application of haptic, interactive and immersive technology in circus and street art event design.

Exposure to experimentation with the affordances offered by these new haptic, sonic and visualisation technologies will provide an opportunity for creatives and producers to be given privileged, direct and well-supported access to experimentation with these technologies. This project , will put these tools and techniques in the hands of a diverse curated group of artists that have had limited access or opportunity for engagement thus far. This project will bring together the extraordinary skills, expertise and experience of circus and street artists and producers in to the direct experimentation with these technologies:
Skills such as:
- Manipulating our gaze and emotions with an immersive environment
- Initiating and conducting audience interaction
- Responding to new opportunities and improvising when things go wrong
- An integration of technical equipment within their performance
- A wider realm and range of physical movements including 'flight' through aerial and trapeze work.
Both the spectacular and intimate forms of circus and street arts provide an opportunity for unique and 'never-before-seen' audience views and experiences: for example from the top of a trapeze.

The project partners - leading exhibitors, funders and curators - will collaborate with us on the recruitment and curation of an appropriate spreof artistic skills and expertise to participate in the rapid prototyping process. Participants will work together over a period of 4 months with access to research expertise and technical support to iterate 5 novel acts that will be exhibited in proof of concept format at the final Live Laboratory in the process - a high profile event which we are describing as the "XR: CIIRKES - Cabaret of Curiosities" which will take place at the internationally celebrated Brighton Fringe Festival venue - the Spiegeltent. This will be a public performance of the works-in-progress, in order to understand the audience experience and to further test the technologies of live event capture. The overall project will be underpinned by a robust literature review, project and impact evaluation and visual documentation. The project will also have a further objective to generate awareness and visibility for the potential of this sector and will therefore be accompanied by a series of press releases tailored at building visibility and engagement.

Planned Impact

As set out in the objectives, diversity and inclusivity occupy a central role in the conception and design of this project. As such, one of its key impact goals is to improve access to creative experiences. By providing new pathways to access circus and street theatre, these art forms will be opened up for those who may conventionally struggle to participate. The second key impact goal is to demonstrate the value of these collaborative methodologies for the production and sharing of new skills. This provides a means through which to develop and fully realise the potential of the sector (through innovation) and position it as a world leader.

The project has been designed to deliver collaborative and co-produced research. As such, research stakeholders, users, and beneficiaries will be present from the start and throughout the project. Impact activities will be structured around targeted interventions with three key stakeholders (Public, Policy, Creative Sector), and public engagement.

Public: (including children) will benefit from vivid showcase material that demonstrates the talent and creativity within this sector whilst also providing compelling and emotionally compelling new experiences through the application of new technologies. This will be achieved in the short term firstly through the Live Laboratory in the Spiegeltent in May 2018. A wider audience are likely to be able to explore and experience the materials and case studies through the experimentation and innovations in the capture and dissemination technologies which will showcase and provide direct access to the art works. This will be extended through further exhibition and distribution of the artworks through the partner festival industry and public networks.

Policy: the project will provide an extensive evidence base, from which policy makers can draw. We will ensure that key funders are invited to the dissemination events in order to demonstrate value of the circus/ tech collaboration. This will lead to more effective policies that articulate the value of XR technologies, and specifically the virtues and potentialities of circus and street art. We hope that changes in policy will effect changes in funding, as funding bodies will also be able to draw upon and leverage the evidence base.

Creative Industry: Technology providers will have significant research and development intelligence to showcase the potential scope of devices, tools and techniques in the evolution of novel innovative experiences. Project Partner Driftwood and Co-I (Snook) both have direct access to key providers in this sector (in the UK and internationally) and they will be invited to attend and feedback on the Live Laboratory outcomes.

The project partners each have very broad constituencies of creatives, practitioners, producers, directors amongst whom they will network and amongst whom they will ensure that the learning and insight is generally shared. Legacy will be assured through the production of a website, wider dissemination materials (such as press packs, public reports) and a short documentary. All of these are aimed at ensuring that the learning and innovation that will occur through the process of the creative research collaboration are available for a very diverse range of publics.


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