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Immersive Worlds: Dreamscape V & Colourscape…

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I read recently that something called Colourscape was opening up on Clapham Common for a limited time as part of the Colourscape Music Festival. The images accompanying the review reminded me of a similar experience we had back in 2005 when we visited Dreamscape V, and from where all the photos in this post come from…

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Looking it up on the net to help me get the details right, I discovered there’s a bit of a story to these amazing installations…

The concept of brightly coloured, fully immersive worlds dates back to the mid 1960’s when two London artists Maurice Agis and Peter Jones, got tired of the restrictions and limitations of galleries and created the first of their “abstract walk through spaces”, labyrinthine worlds designed to stimulate both visual and sensory experiences…

After 20 years of relative success, Agis & Jones separated company and Agis’s first solo project became Colourspace, which after visiting London for the first time in the mid 1980’s, ended up in Germany where wind caused the inflatable structure to lift off the ground, injuring 5 people.

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The whole construction was reassessed and it was this improved version Dreamscape V that we went to visit in London’s Potters Fields near Tower Bridge, at the end of August 2005. And pretty amazing it was too. as you can see from these photos. We all had to wear coloured smocks to help us blend and merge into the fantastically coloured and organic volumes. I also seem to remember soft ambient music wafting through the voids adding to the other worldliness…

Sadly less than a year later, when the structure was up in County Durham, it broke loose from its moorings once again, this time killing 2 people and injuring 13. Vandalism was initially suspected, however there were also a theory about the internal air heating up and making the structure act like a hot air balloon. Two years of accusations and investigations resulted in Maurice Agis being charged with gross negligence manslaughter, a charge which was never translated into a custodial sentence however, as the jury were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

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In March 2009 Agis was finally fined £10,000 for breach of health and safety regulations. Sadly however (due to the charges and court proceedings or not, is not clear) he died less than 6 months later and his ashes were split into 4 separate coloured pots, red, blue, yellow and green…

Which brings us to today and the Colourscape installation currently on Clapham Common. Curated by Agis’s erstwhile partner, Peter Jones (who now seems to claim sole creative inspiration for the idea), the whole thing appears to have developed into a far more structured affair than the one we saw, with (according to their website) a seemingly endless litany of performers and musicians filling the space and air with, I might suggest, all sorts of unnecessary guff…

Which I think is a shame really, as the one overriding memory I have of our experience (apart from the amazing colous and the smell of vinyl) was that there was hardly anyone else there. My sister and her two eldest were with us, so it must have been school holidays, but as you can see, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, allowing us to explore in our own time and to our own soundtrack of ohh’s and ahh’s and laughter…

(NB. Faces have been obscured to maintain both mine and my sisters boy’s anonymity. They worry about what their mates might say about them and their silly uncle…)

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  1. Tim
    September 19, 2013 at 11:57

    “Faces have been obscured to maintain both mine and my sisters boy’s anonymity”
    That’s a shame as if you really looked like that, you could claim a fortune in royalties for the amount of times your image has been used without your permission!

  2. September 20, 2013 at 00:50

    The irony is Tim, that if the smiley was removed, the vacant expression and yellow complexion it revealed would be worryingly similar to the disguise…
    Thanks as always for taking the time to comment…
    Joe…

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