“Interactive = Incomplete”, the phrase shone on the pitch-black screen like a lone star in the night sky.
Founder of Blast Theory, Matt Adams, began his presentation at Lasalle, College of the Arts with the curious claim. He then dove into an explanation of his company’s expertise: interactive art.
Based in Portslade, England, Blast Theory is an artist collective that combines elements of theatre, film, video games, and many more for an ultra-unique take to art. What makes their pieces special – besides varying themes and mediums – is the inclusion of audience members’ participation. It is hence that the pieces created by Matt and his Blast Theory team, albeit breathtaking and technologically impressive, are incomplete without their participants’ contributions.
It all begun in the early 90s, when Matt saw a beauty amidst the sweaty bodies, drowning beats and hazy atmosphere present in the clubbing scene then. Everyone was involved in creating an experience and he perceived a communal vibe that permeated the dingy venues.
Matt strongly believes that a piece of art can never tell someone how to feel or think. It is the audience themselves that have to arrive at their own conclusions. Hence the greatest films, exhibits, and musical pieces, are in fact, not as perfect as we believe. What the greatest artistic creators – along with Matt Adams and Blast Theory – have done better than possibly any other out there is that they dared to create something “incomplete”.
It sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Inviting the audience to be a part of their work at Blast Theory has given artists a great way to incite feelings in their viewers. That is the triumph in any medium, and guarantees participants a thought-provoking and emotional awakening experience that is extremely memorable.
Blast Theory’s recent three pieces are all futuristic extravaganzas, namely My Point Forward (2017), Take Me To The Bridgewater (2017), and 2097: We Made Ourselves Over. In 2097: We Made Ourselves Over, Tesla trucks were sent to pick up participants and fetch them to a large outdoor space to view original sci-fi film screenings. While the film screenings were taking place, 300 phone booths within close proximity rang at the same time. This immediately drew its unsuspecting participants to a situation where they must decide what is best for the future, through a phone call to their future selves.
In the realm of science fiction, it is easy to get lost in the dizzying spectacle that is the future.
With Blast Theory, however, participants are forced to ponder what is near and dear to them today, and what change they can bring about to the world they know. Participants are made to think deeply about their role in our ever-changing world.
Matt Adams’ upcoming project would go a century back in time: the group will be live streaming a film centred on World War One, since 2018 would mark the 100th-year anniversary of the war’s end. It will be live streamed online for free in October this year.
What is special about Blast Theory’s new film is that it will be fully live – the film will be shot with the actors and effects all in place at the same time as it is streamed to the world. That would also mean that the film will feature no edits, cuts, and special effects, and all the action will take place in real-time.
The expected effect of this is a very gritty and raw portrayal of events. I can only imagine that this will be a fitting tribute to a historical occasion that was so chaotic and bleak.
Matt Adams and Blast Theory are choosing – yet again – to bring us along for the ride, instead of just showing us the results. Audiences all over the world will be riveted till the very end.
I asked Matt what advice he would give to local dreamers who wish to make it in the arts scene. He replied that if any one of them feels a need to create something, they should just go ahead and do it – no matter the price.
Indeed, we try so hard to make something that is perfect and whole; something that will be appreciated by everyone and will fit snugly in place in the universe.
We get so fixated on completion that we do not even start.
Perhaps the reason why we need art in the first place is to remedy our own deficiency. It is created for us to feel something, to fill a profound emptiness, and maybe someday, make us whole.
Without us to experience it, art is unfinished.
Interactive art has to be experienced: to get a glimpse of what I have mentioned, check out Blast Theory’s game-changing works here!
Else, if you’d like to see the lecture Matt Adams did at Lasalle, check the YouTube video below!
Visuals courtesy of Blast Theory.