VIRTUAL STRIPTEASE attempts a first step towards involving the passive television audience in a virtual studio production. The basic possibility of interaction by turning the swivel chairs to choose between the television image with actors integrated into the virtual sets, or the live dance performance in the empty blue stage, makes the event more attractive for the physically present audience. The traditional modes of perception are redefined through the motivation of the spectators to physical movement. This resembles to some strategies of active audience engagement in theatre, where the audience is made to move between multiple stages on which the theatre piece is simultaneously performed.
Commercial television productions such as magazine programmes or reviews of the year are performed in GMD's Virtual Studio by a number of German broadcast stations. Technical further developments match the Virtual Studio software to the practical needs of the market. At the same time, the European Commission is also promoting technical development as part of the ACTS programme. Unfortunately, however, there is no funding for developing flexible software geared to the needs of audience and performers. There is almost no support for the design and construction of virtual scenarios or for drama productions with their costly rehearsals.
The broadcast covering the award of the 1995 Video Art Prize can therefore only be realised through a technically oriented GMD research project (Distributed Video Production). For the first time ever, the Virtual Studio at GMD therefore undertakes collaboration between dance and stage which takes place at two different locations. The virtual sets are transmitted live from Bonn via a ATM broadband to the studio stage in Baden-Baden. Few Virtual Studio productions can lay claim to an image language that is adequate for the medium. In most cases, the individual image layers are not interwoven and presenters react dispassionately in the empty blue room. If they are indeed able to react to their visual environment and disappear through virtual doors, then they only succeed in doing so when working with a highly specialised team. The presenter is merely a puppet in this game. Be that as it may, the empty room is the interesting aspect in this scenario. To ensure that the actors do not get lost in this blue room, they must commit the scene to memory. They must really act and not just go through the motions. The emptiness is a challenge to their imagination, to a spatial mode of thinking and to reaffirming the body's gestures in space.