The Masquerade


Europe 1600-1815 Galleries, V&A
December 2015

18th-century Venice was celebrated for its worldly pleasures, including its masquerade, held at Carnival time. One of the essential stops on the 'Grand Tour', it was a period of revelry that enlivened Venice and offered Venetians and visitors a range of entertainments, from acrobatics and performances in the city's streets and piazzas, to balls, operas and gambling in private apartments.

The Masquerade film offers an interactive, fictional view of the Venetian masquerade. Visitors stand in front of a doorway that takes them on a journey in three acts: first at a ball, then in a gambling hall known as the ridotto, and finally at a commedia dell'arte performance in a Venetian piazza. The visitor is guided through the experience by a harlequin character who encourages them to copy poses and interact with the characters on screen.

Clay designed and produced the interactive film, bringing in a large group of community participants as extras, student volunteers as crew and specialist theatre company Slung Low to direct the action and choreography. Post-production happened in house and bespoke software was designed to allow full-body tracking of visitor's gestures in front of the glass door.

See The Making of The Masquerade on the V&A's blog.

Exhibition Design:
Theatrical Production
Slung Low