In 2005, a small and eclectic team at the Australian National University undertook a re-imagining of 18th century painter and scenographer Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg's Eidophusikon. His radical theatre employed a unique visual technology which included controlled lighting, clockwork automata, 3-dimensional models, and an accompanying soundscape. The effect was unlike anything the audience had previously encountered, convincing to the point that during the recreation of a torrential storm wrecking a ship at sea, one of the audience, a young artist called William Pyne, feels he is actually there: he later says he had to stop himself from crying out hoarsely in terror.
Owing to both the prototype nature of our project (carried out in a few short months of planning and execution), and perhaps modern man's vast exposure to television and cinema, our modern re-creation doesn't have the same emotional punch as the original. Still, it gives a sense of what original patrons might have witnessed. To augment this, our re-creation provided a virtual reality view of backstage (not shown in this video), providing a 3D look at the 18th-century "technologies" that de Loutherbourg employed in his Eidophusikon.
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