This installation for the Stadsschouwburg in Groningen sprang from a commission for an opera about Jules Verne. This opera took place in two acts, in two different spaces in the theatre. Between acts the audience moved through the corridor where the installation was located, constituting a visual and conceptual ‘entr’acte’ for this opera.
The installation used an augmented reality technique whereby slide projections on a row of four semitransparent mirrors permitted viewers to look through the mirrors and see projections on the glass panes of the main entrance doors to the theatre. These panes were covered with a special retro-reflective projection foil that created a convincing optical illusion wherein the viewers looked through these doors but saw the scenery of the real space outside. In this outdoor space, a number of fictional events had been performed and photographed, and these stills constituted a sequence of images as visitors walked down the corridor and moved from one mirrored projection to another.
To amplify the paradoxical illusion of such an urban continuum of the operatic performance going on outside the theatre doors, these doors were made to partially open and close during the viewing period, and bright spotlights positioned outside cast shifting beams of red light over the floor as they opened. In this way a conjunction of real and virtual elements established a performative relationship that formed both a physical and narrative transition between the two operatic acts.
The retro-reflective augmented reality projection technology used in this work was first explored in Viewpoint (1975, Paris).