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Monday, April 02, 2021

Something special’s in store for the stage production of “Losing Something” at 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center this month:

A 3D holographic projection system called Eyeliner is being used to insert pivotal special effects into the play, including fully-fledged characters and plot devices.

This is exactly the sort of tech-wizardry that theater purists denounce as a warping of the stage experience. So it’s smart of the “Losing Something” team to define Eyeliner as the modern version of a time-honored technique that’s been in use since the 19th Century:

The Eyeliner system makes use of an old stage trick called Pepper’s Ghost that by most accounts was first seen onstage in an 1862 production of Charles Dickens’s “Haunted Man,” at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London. John Henry Pepper (1821-1900) is usually credited with discovering the illusion, though an engineer named Henry Dircks was really first to suggest placing an angled piece of plate glass between audience and actors, allowing off-stage objects or people to “appear” reflected on the glass as if they were onstage. When the off-stage lights were turned off, the ghosts seemed to vanish.

It seems like a stretch to characterize a high-powered computer-generated effect as part of the traditional stagecraft arsenal. And the bigger issue is the application of the technology: In this case, as an integral, proactive part of the action. It’s not like you can ignore the Eyeliner effects, or perceptionally consider it as non-essential window-dressing. If you’re watching electronic ghosts act out the story, you have to ask: Are you really still watching live theater, or an animated spectacle?

Regardless, this is intriguing enough for me to get tickets. Maybe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/02/2021 09:55:14 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech, Creative
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