Curious Creatures creator Jimmy McGilchrist (left) and assistant Lachie Dowd setting up their special-effects Lantern Festival event in Lismore this week.
Curious Creatures creator Jimmy McGilchrist (left) and assistant Lachie Dowd setting up their special-effects Lantern Festival event in Lismore this week. Jimmy McGilchrist

Shadow cast on Lantern Festival

THROUGH clouds of volcanic dust, Curious Creatures have arrived in Lismore from Adelaide to be part of Saturday's Lismore Lantern Festival.

Brought to Lismore by the Splendid Arts program, a collaboration between NORPA and Splendour in the Grass, artist and creature-creator Jimmy McGilchrist and his collaborator Lachie Dowd will be giving an artists' talk at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery in Molesworth Street tonight, from 6.30-8.30pm at a free gallery after hours event.

Mr McGilchrist invented the Curious Creatures using technology developed by the Israeli military for the much more sinister purposes of war and covert surveillance.

“It's good to take a technology like that and subvert it for creative expression,” Mr McGilchrist told The Northern Star.

“The idea was formed by my visit to Splendour in the Grass last year, where there are about 18km of hessian fencing which surround the site at Woodfordia.

“The fencing is a very domineering component of the festival, penning it in and making a boundary between the site and the natural world all around.

"Watching the light from the lighting towers casting shadows on the fencing, I conceived the idea to enliven that space with an alternative reality that would be mysterious and surreal.”

In Lismore this week, Mr McGilchrist and Mr Dowd have been preparing the animations and projections that make up the Curious Creatures – and toning them down to be family-friendly for the Lantern Festival crowd.

At Splendour, with an audience mainly of 18- to 25-year-olds, interaction with the creatures can be scary, even hostile.

When they are installed near the Lismore skate park at Riverside Park for the Lantern Festival, the creatures will be backlit after dark so their silhouettes appear on a massive screen.

Those who dare can approach the front of the screen, where sensors will pick up their body shape and project it on to the screen. The Curious Creatures then will interact with them.

In this evening's talk, Mr McGilchrist will show the Curious Creatures and provide insights into the processes involved with their interactive, sensor-driven projections that bring them to life.



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