This project is inspired by the Qiantang River which ows through Hangzhou, a region of canals, rivers and lakes. These waterways have played a central role in the region’s cultural and economic development throughout history.
As an architectural installation, “The Black Dragon” is a metaphorical representation of the Qiantang River. The installation consists of a long, wavy, modular surface that covers the full length of the celling in the lobby of the Hangzhou Cirque Du Soleil theatre. This is an actuated surface that shifts and undulates like the surface of a river. The triangular modules that comprise the surface maintain the industrial heritage of the building. The lighting effects that enhance the piece seek to recreate the reactions of moonlight on water, a universally known phenomenon.
The interactive aspect of the installation is driven by the movement of people below the surface and the response of the controlled lighting system. The audience, with the movement of their bodies, will be able to move and change the illumination of the surface. Each person will represent a small “ray” of light so that when people congregate into groups, bigger lighting effects are created.
The prototype consists of a manually operated scale model of the “Black Dragon” installation. The modular triangular surface has a multitude of connections to spring loaded pistons. By pressing on these pistons from above the surface is distorted in precisely the way it would occur in the full scale installation. A video camera captures the distortions of the surface and projects them onto the ceiling suggesting the effect of the full scale architectural version.