04 March 2014

Creature from the Black Lagoon

What, you might ask, does The Creature from the Black Lagoon have to do with virtual reality? Well, it was one of the most famous early 3D/immersive films, dating from 1954, and on LEA11 Livio Oak Korobase pays homage to it with his installation of the same name. In the film, a scientific expedition embarks for the Amazon, intent on finding a "missing link" sort of creature bridging ancient land and sea animals, and, setting out on the little ship Rita, they do: the Creature, or Gill-man. Things go downhill from there for just about everyone, especially the Creature. For Livio, the Creature represents the "metaxy," a term in Greek meaning "between," but which the philosopher Eric Voegelin decided had been used in a special context by Plato in the Symposium to mean a sort of mysterious middle ground or reality. (Livio provides more detail in his installation notes, and if you're seriously curious you can dig around for more information about metaxy online.)

Unless you choose to dwell on the heavier philosophical orientation, you're likely to experience the installation more visually (hop on a rocket for a ride, if you wish), and it's not only an homage to The Creature from the Black Lagoon but also to other films. Around the sim you'll spot the iconic moon and rocket from Georges Méliès's 1902 masterpiece Le voyage dans la lune, movie posters from Invasion of the Saucer-Men, Mothra, The Invisible Ray and other sci-fi classics, and King Kong himself. And of course there's the Creature and his environment. In one enclosed space, you'll find the Creature's bedroom: There he lies, dreaming of the girl who proves to be his fatal attraction—and there's another room that Livio at first told me was a dining room, but then thought to perhaps let it be a library. ("The Creature is a good boy, he reads a lot of books," he remarked.) Head into the room adorned with Giotto ("Because he was famous for talking with animals," adds Livio), and you can watch excerpts from several classic films. You'll also spot the Rita and other references. (Eventually the houses of cards might be modified to fall down, too, so be careful around them!)

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