Its hard for me to begin to describe this piece or where it fits in my practice its a “side project”. For years I believed I had to keep my multidisciplinary arts practice divided – I don’t know why I kept my design/ computer geek separate from my persona as a dancer and props manipulator (flow or fire artist) and my fine arts practice well away from both.
But she called out to be made anyhow.
I have always drawn characters from myth and legend the naga is no different. Nagas are part snake part human, they crop up all over East Asia , in Thailand and India and can often be seen at temple gates as guardian spirits.
The first attempt at the mask was in fact an epic failure allow quite beautiful it was just to large to wear and didn’t address the need to stay on my head. Though I did like that it was made out of cardboard. The nose was too long to be manageable and on the whole it was far to fragile to cope with being used in a performance after breaking it a few times I changed the base so i had something that would firmly attach to my head. A friend suggested I use a foot ball helmet so I started again.
Mask #2 was much better made on a foam base decorated or rather encrusted with post consumer waste, keyboard elements broken electronic components , spoons, forks and wire. I made the eyes so they could glow or light up. And returned to drawing as I had to work out the rest of the costume.
I use fire fans frequently as a fire entertainer but I wanted some glow version of fans to use in inside performances where fire is not an option there were none available to buy so i figured I would make my own. prototype #1 was cobbled together from coat hangers and el wire they are good light but a bit wonky. After the first performance I decided they were not nearly bright enough and moved towards led fans though that was a steep learning curve.
I did get some amazing photos of these in action though. (photos by sand hall)
Experimenting with LEDs and flora
The second fans were created out of perspex – I quickly sketched up a vector drawing in illustrator and got theses cnc cut by a local shop, however clear perspex isnt so good and I wanted a pattern on the fans so I cut (by hand) stencils and had them sandblasted to provide diffuse light.
I used data driven leds I bought from the lovely folks at http://www.adafruit.com they have great tutorials which helped me navigate through what i needed to power, programe and set up the fans.
It took some learning here’s a photo of testing the LED’s running of the flora, the flora is a tiny little microchip which you can program to run the led strips in certain ways. To be honest the possibility’s with theses are endless I had to keep it simple to make it achievable to me. I found all I really needed was :
- The strip of leds
- mini lipo recharge unit
- a switch
- lipo (lithium battery)
I put them in a case to protect them and soldered them up- programmed them to do a colour change on a random number <256 and they were ready.
Here is a video of the performance
This project has taken over a year I realized that I had no income coming from it at all yet I had dedicated hours to making it , prototyping and performing it so I produced a t-shirt to help pay for my “naga” habit.