Hidden Door Festival, In Between Space, The State Cinema
Hourly from 2 pm to 9pm suitable for 8s to adult – younger children at parents discretion.
The Keeper draws inspiration from a Grimms’ fairy tale, The Seven Ravens, and is aimed at adult and family audiences with a lower age of 8 years (parental discretion for children younger than that threshold). It is a performance/installation with puppetry, live image capture, processing and display; projection, needle felting, and specially composed music and song.
The Keeper is a creature who guards the Glass Mountain. In the traditional version of this Grimms’ fairy tale, he is a rather friendly gnome. This project will involve the creation of a non-human marionette or puppet who guards the glass mountain and which contains a Raspberry Pi computer, a Pi camera and a small screen. It will be programmed to steal, in real time, the images of all it encounters and to store them in the glass mountain.
The design and creation of this creature for Hidden Door 2018 will explore how the function of housing the microcomputer and its camera influences the design of the final form of the marionette/puppet. It also explores how to make the creature move, interact with other puppets and people (audience members) it meets. The sole desire of The Keeper is to capture the images of all it encounters – and to keep them within the walls of the Glass Mountain forever. Puppetry is important to the realisation of this character because he is not of our world, he is formed, shaped by what he needs to be – a collector of images.
There is an obvious connection to be made between The Keeper and his Glass Mountain and social media, online identity theft, and the digital rights of children and adults; this is not an oversight or happenstance. The setting for The Keeper and his mountain will be within an updated Grimms’ fairy tale world of digital exploration, exploitation and experimentation.
The installation element of this stage of the work will involve creating the glass mountain in which images are ‘stored’ and displayed, in creating some of the artefacts and environments of the future play, in exploring some modern day parallels to the original story and working out how these might fit into and inform a narrative, to explore and reveal some of the data around young people’s use of digital products, issues around safety and the checks, balances and measures they use for personal safety online.
Why This Story?
The inspiration for The Keeper comes from several sources. The primary one is the story itself – a strong female hero who rescues her seven brothers turns the usual fairytale fodder of ‘damsel in distress’ on its head. The Keeper character is a simple and age appropriate exploration of the issue of sharing images online without realising that once they are posted control is lost.
Tragic Carpet has plans, after this initial experimental phase, to seek funding to develop a production of The Seven Ravens set in the modern day, having as its lead puppet a young woman who sets off on a quest to find and save her brothers who are being kept in the Glass Mountain, and who will use her STEM knowledge and experience help her on her quest.
It is envisaged that this future production will be suitable for primary school aged children and will tour to festivals, museums and galleries and arts venues. It will address issues around gender balance in the digital and other STEM industries, will present a strong digitally competent female lead character, and will have as one of its themes the exploration of online identity and keeping safe.
Freda O’Byrne – lead artist
Kim Edgar – composer, musician, singer
Elspeth Chapman – designer and puppeteer
Pete Searle – production manager, lighting designer
Rikki Guy – Creative Developer
Needle Felting Helpers
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