Dazzle by Gibson/Martelli

DAZZLE by Gibson/Martelli and Peut-Porter reimagines the 1919 Chelsea Arts Club 'Dazzle' Ball as a model for a next-generation mixed reality performance space.

Dazzle_Gibson Martelli

Dress in a vibrant costume, navigate a labyrinth, live dancers flamboyantly interweaving between virtual and real – dreaming of the 1919 Chelsea Arts Club ‘Dazzle’ Ball.

The DAZZLE project is a tourable exhibition including installation, film, live performance aiming at reshaping contemporary forms – combining fashion, music and choreography – providing a model for a next-generation mixed reality performance space.

Embracing participatory forms of theatre and inclusion in XR, the project is reimagining the 1919 Chelsea Arts Club Dazzle Ball. After five years of war, inspired by the naval dazzle-ship patterns, the original Ball applied zig-zag patterns to costumes and set design, playing with audiences’ vision and perception. DAZZLE is firmly situated in the 21st century, bringing to life colourful net-art and post-internet aesthetics.

DAZZLE offers participants the chance to find agency in virtual worlds, uncovering and interacting with choreographed digital set-pieces and live improvisations. Music and technology encourage dance and interaction, performers and avatars stepping out from screens, blending with the audience.

Intended audience

DAZZLE is a celebratory experience, suiting a diverse range of audiences through several levels of engagement including: metroculturals (museum attendees, engaged with arts); experience seekers (students, graduates, early to mid-career); families with children and friends. Collaboratively the team researches choreographic methods, motion sketches, virtual experiences, haptic interfaces, vibrant costumes and staging to create dynamic new Experiences.

Creator’s statement

The DAZZLE project is a new collaboration between artists Gibson/Martelli and fashion platform Peut-Porter, an unforgettable experience taking  participants on an extraordinary journey from World War One via Futurism, Cubism, Dada, Coco Chanel, Dior and the Bauhaus. The conceptual lens of the project is a watershed moment, synchronous with modernism, the Chelsea Arts Club 1919 Dazzle Ball.  A century ago this overlooked shindig was where creative ideas introduced a bright new era and as we move through today’s troubled times – post-truth, post-internet, post-identity – it is timely to reconnect and recreate the spirit of this optimistic event.

Technical summary

The exhibition includes standalone single-user VR and AR experiences, multichannel film and sound installations. Live Performance VR experience: Optitrack motion capture hardware/software for Mocap and tracking of performers and audience who wear backpack PCs and HMD/s. Performers are tracked using full-body skeleton, VR users are tracked using six marker simple skeleton. An extension of the project is our Mocap streamer software ‘MotionRiver’ currently in development funded by UKRI which will bring live performance to remote users.

Project team details

  • Dan Tucker – Executive Producer
  • Bruno Martelli – Creative Technologist and Director
  • Alex Pollmann – Director and Production Designer
  • Ruth Gibson – Director of Choreography and Performance Capture, Researcher in Dance
  • Bine Roth – Set and Costume Designer
  • Oliver Wroble – Exhibition, Graphic and Motion Designer
  • Paul Steinmann – Musician and Sound Designer
  • Hannah Burfield – Principle Dance

Team profile

Award-winning artists and experienced virtual realists, Gibson and Martelli are at the forefront of creating innovative methods and uses of technology to engage audiences in different contexts. They strive to integrate physical and virtual worlds to create new ‘spaces’ for performance.

Peut-Porter’s all-female design collective forms its own category, interrogating and imagining all that is ‘worn’ in its widest sense. Inherently future-facing, they create artefacts that investigate body politics and social change through the lens of fashion.

Past work

2019, “Drawing Levels”
2018, “Star, Gods Moon, Rabbits”
2018, “Nari Shokti”
2017-18, “Wear+SEEK – Ubiquitous Wearing”
2017, “Chanel Première Camélia Skeleton”
2015-16, “INDIVICRACY – Tale of a future Government”
2014, “MAN A”
2014, “White Island” 2014, “80°N”