The Nightmare Room
blinc 2012 was dedicated to Alan Turing in his centenary year. The curators commissioned a series of artworks to reflect Turing’s life and work. This festival in Conwy, Wales, is in its second year and celebrates all that is digital. blinc’s objective is to showcase artworks both in various site-specific locations and also in 3D projections around the town.
The Nightmare Room is a multi-platform projection work created by Sean Vicary and Steve Knight that uses site-specific material, animation and augmented reality to examine ideas of transformation and the power of myth. Taking Alan Turing’s studies on morphogenesis and pattern formation as a starting point, the piece explores connections suggested by Turing’s chance encounter and subsequent friendship with Alan Garner, the writer of The Owl Service.
Garner remembers Turing talking endlessly about mathematics and biology, but in their conversations it also emerged that both men had been traumatised at an early age by the witches transformation scene in Disney’s Snow White. Turing often dwelt on the ambiguity of the red-green apple that gave life or death, echoes of how he ended his life, with a half eaten poisoned apple by the bedside. Central to Garner’s famous updating of the Blodeuwedd myth, The Owl Service, is a dinner plate on which the intricate floral pattern can be seen as either owls or flowers, the chosen perspective determining destruction or salvation.
The Nightmare room combines these reoccurring themes of pattern and transformation that wind through the narrative arc of Turing and Garner’s life and work. Meadowsweet and other materials gathered from Llanymawddwy, where The Owl Service was written and filmed, is manipulated so that shifting patterns evolve, as if mapping out the binding threads that form the fabric of our lives.
Find out more about other blinc commissions here.