Voyage into the Unknown

Voyage into the Unknown


Leave the everyday behind, and venture down river to a nether-world of eerie possibility. Experience rare audio-visual treats in a magical setting with sparkling company. A no-rent hybrid of Fitzcarraldo, Magical Mystery Tour and the drifty bits of Apocalypse Now.

Pyrotechnic intervention @ Crew's Hole Bridge - Photo credit: Pippa Taylor

The first Voyage into the Unknown event was a dramatic confluence of the Tunnel of Love fairground attraction, drive-in-movies, and iconic moments from classic cinema river journeys during which protagonists' undergo a process of transformation.

150 brave souls ventured down-river from the centre of Bristol towards Bath, and disembarked at a mystery location where Kid Carpet and IATMJ performed live. During the return journey the audience encountered a series of spectacular interventions combining pyrotechnics and performance.

In 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' (Woody Allen 1985), a matinee idol emerges from the screen to romance an unloved housewife. I reversed this conceit by encouraging the audience to project themselves into a cine-mythic space, as active participants rather than passive observers. This was achieved by invoking an atmosphere sufficient to trigger the suspension of disbelief, integral to the cinematic experience.

'Voyage was one of my 2003 highlights - it opened up new ways of experiencing well known parts of my city and re-defined multi-discipline multi-media performance - it was both breathtaking in its ambition, and magical in its subtlety.'

Dick Penny, Creative Director, Watershed Media Centre

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What was it?

A spectacular event featuring a unique hybrid of contemporary audio-visual and analogue-digital performance, which invited its' audience to participate in an atmospheric netherworld of mystery and surprise. Inspired by classic screen river journeys like 'Fitzcarraldo' and 'Apocalypse Now', a strong sense of the cinematic was achieved through a merger of digital technology, physical performance, improvised pyrotechnics, and the interplay of light and water.

At it's core was a mystery boat excursion, commencing Bristol city centre, towards Bath. It's early evening and the voyage begins with little out of the ordinary, just a trip through the industrial inner city and into nearby countryside. The enchantment meter jumps several notches as the boats are drawn to picturesque greenery at dusk, by a trail of floating candles. Flaming torches line the banks and a guitar-playing owl and glamourous pussy-cat are rowed through mist. The audience disembark wide-eyed and explore the site - a walled garden with many trees including a majestic willow, lit by glowing lanterns and a mirror-ball hanging inside the canopy of a large oak.

Inspired live performances quickly follow from Kid Carpet and I Am The Mighty Jungulator in a small A-frame tent at the intimate riverside location. The tent's far end is dressed to suggest a 1930's cinema with a deep red curtain framing the screen. Both performances showcase integrated audio-visual interplay that is both improvised and cohesively thematic. Ninety minutes later IATMJ's set ends with white smoke spiraling into the night sky, as the audience board the boats to commence a return journey along a river now solely lit by candles. The choreographed trip slows at key points, and exciting drama unfolds along the bank and overhead from footbridges, featuring 'hint and run' pyrotechnics that are both nuanced and spectacular. For a finale, pirate-technicians board the lead boat for a dramatic return to central Bristol.


VITU1 was supported with assistance from the following organisations:

Watershed Media Centre Pedestrian Performing Right Society Foundation I Am The Mighty Jungulator