Behind The Mask

Idea Summary

The purpose of this project is to have students from various multimedia interactive backgrounds formulate and build an interactive installation denoting a few key characters in the works of Shakespeare to commemorate his 400th death anniversary.

Concept

The immortal bard had created and inserted numerous characters some larger-than-life in his plays, their personalities and behaviors are what make Shakespeare so extraordinary and inspiring until today. Some of his characters are so popular in literature and in the entertain world that by quoting some of their lines or a brief description will conjure up their names or the plays they were in. Their popularity is not of one without substance; Shakespeare built the characters in this play with depth and with many dimensions. His heroes are not always the infallible pillars of good, they have flaws, they can be corrupted, and they have – for a lack of better words – character. The same is applied onto his villains, his characters are more than just one dimensional. Thus, the characters of Shakespeare plays are the key focus in this project.

The team has selected a group of characters to be represented in this installation. Each character tells a story and each character has a persona, a façade. To play on that trope, the main attraction and controls will be in the form of masks. These masks will be constructed to aesthetically represent a character. The installation will be in a booth, where the masks will be placed inside facing a one-way mirror. When the user picks one of the masks up, the one-way mirror will become a screen displaying visuals that portray the mental landscape of the characters with supporting audio playing in speakers attached to the masks.

The masks will take inspiration from Elizabethan masks that were hugely in trend at the time of Shakespeare. Each and every one of them will be designed and modelled after the appearance of the character is has been assigned to.

Hypothesis

The action of having the user putting on the mask and seeing and hearing the mind of character, is a way for people to assume the role in a Shakespeare play. Acting in theatrical plays requires the actors to assume the personality and antics of the character – they have to transform into the character they are acting. This installation not only allows them put on the mask of a character but to also see and experience what is behind the mask.

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