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WEAR ME!!! - REVIEW - 7-12-02
TxOom | Great Yarmouth


TxOom: quite an experience

One of the main highlights of the recent future physical WEAR ME!!! Network exchange was the TxOom installation, in Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus Space. Everyone who went to TxOom will have different story about their experience of it, but here is a personal account of what it was like to visit.

Turning up at The Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth didn't conjure up images of scary digital arts installations: rather, it was like getting to a circus before all the crowds. An impression which was reinforced once inside, where the mad, mystical Greek lady, Sia, read everybody's future in their coffee grounds, and encouraged allcomers to "Write the letter that they never wrote" on her transparent plastic skirt, in marker pen. So, by the time we were led through to TxOom itself, we were all completely at ease.

Having donned thin paper bodysuits, we moved to what would normally be the circus arena, to be asked whether we wanted to remain on the ground or take aerial positions within TxOom. Opting, initially, for suspension, I found myself being strapped into a climbing chair suspended from the ceiling, part of which formed a costume featuring huge legs, each containing a large ball, which dangled almost to the ground. I was then winched 15 feet into the air - thanks to the fact that there was always such a breadth of experience and interaction to be had, I never once entertained thoughts of vertigo.

The lights went down and TxOom got into its stride. I found myself concentrating on the exhilaration of being suspended in the air, and having access to two ropes enabling me to swing considerable distances across the arena - with, it must be said, a fair amount of physical effort. Interaction with fellow visitors wasn't a problem either - the balls weighing down my enormous trousers were greeted as great toys by those on the ground.

Occasionally, my attention would be distracted by a change in the music or visuals, triggered by people within TxOom although never was I aware of altering the environment by my own actions, which was a pity. But during the latter stages - in a more analytical mood - I was able to divine the effects on the environment of various participants - particularly the effect the person bouncing from the ceiling on a piece of bungee had on the sound.

Mostly, I enjoyed myself by swinging around, taking in the general ambience and messing around trying to get my costume out of reach of the participants on the ground yet failing miserably at that, to everyone's amusement. The enthusiasm of various pre-teens in the installation graphically demonstrated that it had enormous appeal, and I was sad to leave it. But, in intellectual terms, lack of reaction to my actions (even after a further stint at ground level) left me short of insight into the nature of technology, play and art - which I was hoping to acquire from TxOom. Still, the installation already provides a most enjoyable environment and will be further refined this year, so I look forward to visiting it again.

related fp links>>
> luxuman
> t-garden
Sha Xin Wei
--T-Garden project development

> wearables forum

external links>>
> gatech/topologicalmedia
> f0.am / T-Garden
f0.am / txOom

credits - review: steve boxer | photography/digital images: john chapman