This project is based on the ongoing collaboration with Claudia Kupsch who is the director and one of the dance teachers of a local theatre's children and youth ballet. Already one year before its premiere, Claudia invited us to create interactive costumes for a few characters of the ballet performance based on the fairy tale The Little Mermaid
by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen
. Besides designing the Sea Witch Costume
, I thus initiated two student projects - one for creating interactive costumes for the Seahorse and the Jellyfish who play supporting roles in the opening part of the performance, and another one for evaluating the costumes deployment on a real performance stage.
For the first student project in winter term 2016/17, we followed an interdisciplinary approach and students of Computer Science and Media, Human-Computer Interaction, Media Art and Design, and Product Design worked in two mixed teams. My part was to introduce them to costume design and crafting, and to teach them how to combine electronics with textile materials. Additionally, we visited the costume designer Hilke Förster who was in charge of creating all the other costumes for The Little Mermaid
performance for getting a better understanding of a costume designer's work. I further guided the students through conceptualizing costume designs that could fullfil the requirements given by the director of the performance. Everything happend in close cooperation with the choreographic work and we regularly visited and observed Claudia Kupscch and the dancers while rehearsing. In February/March 2017, the two costumes were ready for their final staging.
Due to the fixed cycles of the university's year we could not stage the costumes together with their creators. That's why, I initiated a second student project in summer term 2017. A major goal was to evaluate how interactive costumes can be deployed on a traditional theatre stage within the given structutres and procedures. We further wanted to investigate how the performers, other stakeholders, and the audience perceive such interactive costumes. I developed the research question together with two students of Human-Computer Interaction. I further introduced both into qualitative research in HCI and guided them through the evaluation process ranging from the study design, over developing interview guides and a questionnaire, to analyzing the results. The students further supported me during the final rehearsing period and helped staging both interactive costumes.