+ ALNWICK II 1996
Arts Council Funded Project by Kevin Atherton and Peter Maloney (Doublevision)
Real-time immersive digital environment.
Commissioned for Alnwick Playhouse for Visual Arts '96 by Northern Arts, Northumberland County Council, Alnwick District Council and Alnwick Playhouse Trust.
Virtual Reality meets 'The Windsor of the North'
Kevin Atherton and I were commissioned to produce a site-specific artwork for Visual Arts '96 in the beautiful northern town of Alnwick, known as the Windsor of the North. Our response, Alnwick II was a fully immersive real-time digital environment inside which architectural and cultural aspects of the town are deconstructed and reconstructed to generate a new narrative space, presented as a live performance in Alnwick Playhouse and filmed by local TV news.
Using the famous historic market square as a focal point, the narrative plot for the work was based on our experience while on location in the town. Visitors are taken on a tour of real and imagined, historical and future sites in the town, which all co-exist in the digital space. On the tour we stop for a number of cups of tea.
• Visitors are taken through a domestic living room, (with a clock that always tells the right time). Two cups of tea are drunk here before moving on.
• A visit to the Bookmakers brings a surprise as we find ourselves on the stage of Alnwick Playhouse where we receive a rapturous welcome from the audience. We drink 2 cups of tea as part of a performance art piece. A chorus of boos ring out as we then exit from the stage.
• A tour of the Market Hall unexpectedly leadsus to the proposed edge of town Supermarket - a major talking point at the time, two cups of tea can be drunk here while discussing the impact of the supermarkeyt on local trade.
• Entering the Gift Shop places us inside Alnwick Castle confronted by the infamous ghost which is protecting two cups of tea.
• Next we visit the newly refurbished Art Gallery currently exhibiting two huge Oldenberg sized cups of tea, which we drink.
On achieving this final step, we can then unlock and pay a much-needed visit to the virtual toilet.
The work generated a lot of local interest as we had portrayed the Market Square free of parked cars. Councilors were invited to see the work by local residents to show them how the square could look.
The work was experienced via a head-mounted display and a 3d mouse was used to navigate through the work. Large screens in the gallery allowed others to share the experience. The presentation of the work took place in the gallery of the newly renovated Alnwick Playhouse, close to the market square, with a special live opening performance by Kevin Atherton on the theatre stage.