The initial inspiration for the project results from the fields of interest of director, artist and researcher Elke Reinhuber:
Immersive Media, Counterfactual Thinking and Scientific Imaging
During her PhD studies, Elke Reinhuber was researching on how counterfactual thoughts might be triggered in media art installations and became particularly interested in multi-channel installations and immersive environments, such as 360° panoramas, full domes – or nowadays VR headsets. The viewer may choose the viewing direction, distance and duration and henceforth can become the editor of the material provided by the artists. By doing so, retrospective considerations might arise on how the listening- and viewing experience would have differed as a result of other decisions. During her residency at HfG/ZKM Karlsruhe, Ms. Reinhuber was also exposed to the stereoscopic 3D technologies on the rise and dreamt of a major production, combining architectural impressions and exploring the possibilities of 3D to visualise emotional conflicts between the actors.
The piece itself is based on two open interpretations of the Orpheus legend – the mythical figure, who ventured as the first human being into the underworld, to rescue his beloved wife. Although with the different interpretations throughout history, not much is said about Eurydice's feelings for him. Therefore the notion of a love-triangle with the ’lord of the underworld‘ is suggested, in one of the versions of Venomenon.
Orpheus himself serves as the symbol for counterfactual thoughts, according to the ideas of the artist: by the simple but explicit gesture of turning his head around, he lost his wife forever. Subsequently, he must have been pondering on all the ’what if’s‘ he did not turn around…
The concept of an aged Orpheus re-considering his life with Eurydice was the theme of a ballet production at Staatsballett Karlsruhe in 2014, choreographed by Tim Plegge with music by Philip Glass and video projections by Elke Reinhuber.
The stage-surrounding projections were envisioned consisting of several layers, providing an extended view on the physical and also the mental state of the protagonists. The images below show stills from the video and the stage with a projection of a thermographic video. It reveals Eurydice’s body temperature being too cold to be alive, as she returns to climb from the underworld.
Since, visualising the invisible with aid of scientific imaging technologies is part Elke Reinhuber's work. Venomenon was prepared to be displayed in many different ways. Supplementary to the 360° version featuring one scene and the 2-channel version with two different versions, the single channel video together with lenticular still images display a range of images, normally invisible to the human eye.
Stills from Elke Reinhuber's video projection for the ballet production Orpheus, choreographed by Tim Plegge, for Staatsballett Karlsruhe, 2014.
The stage with thermographic projection (kindly supported by Fraunhofer Institute Karlsruhe), Orpheus, Staatsballett Karlsruhe 2014