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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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The Fourth Wall

The Fourth Wall

Fourth Wall | “Whether you write or act, think no more of the audience than if it had never existed. Imagine a huge wall across the front of the stage, separating you from the audience, and behave exactly as if the curtain had never risen.” D. Diderot, On Dramatic Poetry.

The aim of the project is to build a physical “Fourth Wall” for theatrical performance spaces.

By making the imaginary separation between actors and audience tangible we can play with the boundaries of breaking that separation and test the influence of space on immersion and participation in theatrical performance.

  • Literal translation of the concept “Fourth Wall” into the simplest form of enclosure: a room with four walls. We imagined the enclosure as the stage and the performance taking place within it as the audience navigate the space around the enclosure.
  • Looking at ways to make the enclosed space permeable over the course of the performance. Architectural references suggested how the nature of space can change with a simple transformation such as opening and closing. We started to think of a transformable stage with openings that could act as shelves in order for the audience to interact with the actors through the passage of objects and props.

    Bureau V | Mini Living Cabin
    https://www.dezeen.com/2017/11/15/video-interview-peter-zuspan-bureau-v-mini-living-urban-cabin-new-york-start-conversation-immigration-movie/

  • Making the transformable stage more playful and giving it more agency. After the initial iteration of the four walls we came up with a modular hinge structure with three rotating screens. We started exploring ways to motorise the screens so that they could freely rotate around their hinge, replicating the opening and closing movement imagined in the first iteration. Infrared sensors were explored in order for the screens to be able to avoid each other and eventually people around them. 
  • Speculation of a swarm of rotating screens with a more complex behaviour. We imagine this one structure replicated in a swarm that would constitute a transforming, interactive space for both the performers and the audience to move through. Through the use of different kinds of sensors the screens could respond to the movement of either actors or audience, while possibly being pre-programmed to follow a particular narrative structure.
  • Exploring the possibility of overlaying a digital world in AR. We used AR both as a tool to visualise our speculative replication of the scale model and as something that could enhance immersion in the performance through digital events triggered by the movement of the physical space. 

 

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