Opera North Blog

Who is Ophelia?





Beauty and Clarity. These are the two pillars we are trying to bridge in making this piece, commissioned by Opera North Projects to accompany the Howard Assembly Room’s upcoming visual arts installation, which this year is Katie Mitchell’s ’Five Truths.’

Who is Ophelia? is the second city wide interactive game we at Invisible Flock have created. We are currently in the process of finessing the minutiae and trying to ascertain whether to an outsider it all makes sense, isn’t too difficult to complete and retains the dreamlike aesthetic we initially conceived it to have.

Of course, a priority with any trail-based experience we create is that people are able to follow the route without getting lost, but we also want there to be room for participants to have a personal response to the interaction. Ideally we want that experience to be beautiful and fragile.

The main narrative thrust for “Who is Ophelia?” is conveyed  through a series of text messages from an unknown voice recounting a previous journey through Leeds concluding at the Howard Assembly Room. A series of hidden video screens installed in shop windows reveal visual directions to the next screen, which then unlock a text narrative revealing the relationship at the heart of the story.  Those familiar with Hamlet will enter into the experience knowing that Ophelia’s tale isn’t a happy one, but as Mitchell’s installation so deftly conveys, it is one which can be interpretedfrom a number of angles. The intention of ‘Who is Ophelia?’ is to generate a contemporary look at a young girl whose world has been turned upside down.

As with all of our work we hope the piece will encourage participants to re-envisage their immediate surroundings and look at public spaces through a different lens. To accompany the physical journey we have created a similarly playful online existence which adds a further dimension to the experience – check the website at www.operanorth.co.uk/whoisophelia from 1 February for more details.

This is Invisible Flock’s first piece of 2012 and kicks off a year of both rural and urban pervasive adventures. In fact, many of the techniques employed on ‘Who is Ophelia?’ will influence the making of our next piece for Brighton International Festival: an audio walk between Fabrica Gallery and Brighton Marina. For the piece entitled ‘Sea of Voices’, commissioned to celebrate Lone Twin’s Boat Project which is being hosted in the marina, we are adapting three large sea telescopes and a nautical buoy to help create a personal journey along the coast.

We hope that this piece will introduce the audience to a brand new type of interactive experience, and one which we hope will be a great way of discovering Katie Mitchell’s Five Truths.

Richard Warburton

Invisible Flock

Experience Who is Ophelia? in Leeds city centre from Wednesday 1 February. Katie Mitchell’s video installation Five Truths is in the Howard Assembly Room from Tuesday 14 – Saturday 25 February. Find out more here.

You can also follow the Who is Ophelia? trail on Twitter: @Howard_Assembly #WhoisO

Who is Ophelia - on my way to you from ben eaton on Vimeo.

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