Isobel Knowles & Van Sowerwine
Isobel Knowles | Australia b.1980 | Van Sowerwine | Australia b.1975 | You Were In My Dream 2010 | Custom animation bench: Duncan Jack; Programming: Touch My Pixel; Sound: James Cecil | Interactive installation: live-feed webcam and single-channel video constructed from stop-motion animation exhibited as Shockwave Flash from hard drive, wood, 16:9, colour, sound, ed. 1/3 | An Experimenta commission | © Courtesy the artists
The balance of conceptual complexity and technological simplicity is central to the collaborative works of Van Sowerwine and Isobel Knowles, who have worked together since 1999. The two artists draw on their individual practices across a range of media and interweave animation with traditional film making techniques, and interactivity with installation.
You Were In My Dream 2010 is an interactive animation experience, which invites audiences to enter a child’s vivid imagination. In the shadowy jungle, a small figure lies asleep on the ground. With a click of the mouse, the viewer awakens the figure and assumes the role of the protagonist on a mythic journey through an unexplored landscape. The viewer’s face is integrated into the work through a live video feed, which captures facial expressions in real time. Seeing one’s face inserted into the stop-motion paper cut-out animation enhances the playful, childlike dream experience suggested by the title.
Sowerwine and Knowles are known for employing an interactive approach to involve and confront their audience with darker themes, often surrounding a kind of disturbed innocence. Compared with previous collaborations, this work offers a more light-hearted experience. By navigating the unpredictable elements of the jungle, the user assumes the role of protagonist rather than observer, actively engaging in a process of natural selection. The viewer’s character changes to adapt to the surrounding forest, transforming into animals and back again, as in a dream.
You Were In My Dream offers an intimate experience — both for the user playing the protagonist inside the fabricated console, as well as a shared public experience for those passing by outside the console.