Toni Dove’s The Dress That Eats Souls:
An installation incorporating interactive video, sound and robotics.
A viewer stands in a pool of light in a dark room. A Dress with a robotic bodice and a huge scrim skirt is cabled to the walls, swaying on motor driven wheels. Movement activates the Dress and it tells its story. Video projections transform the skirt, speeding you through time as fashions change, while robotic movement mirrors your movement. Projections on an overhead screen reflect historical events and POV video allows you see through the eyes of those who have worn the Dress, accompanied by their interior voices.
Responsive robotics and video virtually pull you inside the dress, connecting you to it and to the history of those who have worn it. Voiceover, scripted in collaboration with novelist Rene Steinke, forms a poetic narrative with paranormal themes. A Kinect interface uses body motion to trigger interactive video, sound, and robotics. Each visitor encounter produces a 5 min. experience based on the unique arc of movement of that viewer’s body. No two stories are the same.
Beneath the surface of each story lies a tension between the world as technology and the world without us – both alien spaces. The viewer is introduced to the Dress, it evolves, it becomes clear it is lethal, that it consumes people who wear it, that it is consuming you: a tiny horror movie. Your face appears, captured in video and hovers over the Dress on the screen behind, then disappears. You are incorporated.
It’s a cautionary tale: a compressed view of technological change, a speculative view of the almost supernatural implications of emerging technologies that will ultimately modify and amplify the human body.