An RMIT University-produced exhibition at the Melbourne Festival explores the fascinating history of Circus Oz.
Vault: The Non-Stop Performing History of Circus Oz (10-26 October) is a multi-screen kaleidoscope of interactive exhibits, never-before-seen archival footage, storytelling and mixed-media artworks.
The free exhibition is presented by Melbourne Festival in association with RMIT and the Circus Oz Living Archive.
Through dynamic visual and auditory experiences, the exhibition offers unique insights into the personalities and performances that have shaped one of Australia's best-loved performing arts institutions.
Vault is co-curated by Associate Professor David Carlin of the School of Media and Communication and RMIT alumni Chris Marmo and Rueben Stanton, of cross-disciplinary design and research firm Paper Giant.
Associate Professor Carlin said Vault invited attendees to immerse themselves in the Circus's exuberant history.
"Circus is the theatre of the impossible and Circus Oz has always approached the impossible in its own irreverent way," he said.
"Vault sets out to embody this spirit of playful wit in the form of its displays"
Associate Professor Carlin said attendees themselves will enjoy a special place in the Circus's rich history.
"Data from the exhibition itself is captured and visualised so that each visitor, like each Circus Oz audience-member at its performances, adds to the overall performance of the exhibition; to the Non-Stop Performing History of Circus Oz."
The exhibition comprises a series of 11 video artworks drawing upon footage from the Australian Research Council Linkage project, The Circus Oz Living Archive, in fantastical new ways.
Over the exhibition's 17 days, a Marathon of Marvels will play the entire 110 hours of the public archive, a Wall of Wonders will showcase a constantly changing series of spectacles on different platforms and a Memory Booth will see Circus Oz performers offering their recollections of classic performances.
Vault investigates new research questions flowing from the Circus Oz Living Archive, a four-year interdisciplinary research project conducted by RMIT in partnership with Circus Oz, the Australia Council and the Arts Centre (via their Performing Arts Collection).
Associate Professor Carlin said the project marks a shift of focus from the design of digital archives – to what can be designed with those archives.
"The performance history of Circus Oz across more than 35 years can be referred to through an online interactive database of video recordings," he said.
"The research proposition is that the novel design of this 'living archive' facilitates the creation of 'archive acts' (or 'digital sideshows') that attempt to convey important aspects of the spirit, politics and poetics of this circus."
Vault: The Non-Stop Performing History of Circus is at the Art Centre Melbourne, Gallery 1, from Friday, 10 October, to Sunday, 26 October.
All photos: Rob Blackburn.