“In the depths of the post-humanistic ocean, the sea flora has evolved into a predatory colony, shielded by a wall that protects them from polluted seas and trick predators through the power of illusion. See An Enemy peeks out from its abode, searching for its next collective meal that will feed the queen who sits high above the main dwell. Colourful and electric, it dances across the ocean in a mesmerising dance, its beauty bewitching, sending many an ocean dweller to their death.”
Our concept is based on sea anemones, as they find themselves in the hostile seas in a post-humanistic climate, 100 years from now.
Post-humanism is already happening at a rapid pace around us. In a world where our very existence is changing our environment, and thus evolution, we believe that the effects of our excessive consumerism is at the cost of other forms of life, and with the stresses created by constantly evolving and all-consuming technologies, we will see species evolve into more menacing and defensive beings.
See An Enemy is a water dwelling predatory colony of flora, that, in the post-humanistic world that it exists, has evolved to have a shield of amour, which is used not only to protect the living organism within, but also acts as a way to a) trap prey to be consumed for survival, and b) trick predators through play of light and refraction, so that See An Enemy’s position can’t be easily determined, allowing it to frustrate the predator into giving up the hunt.
See An Enemy floats in its underwater world, lifting its shield now and then to peek out at its world, snapping closed if it feels threatened. Within the shell, there is an order of status, the worker flora who capture the food and bare the risk of being attacked, living in the main body of the structure. Above, in a small protected bubble is the royal flora for which the others work to feed and protect.
We developed our costume with minimalist principles in mind, believing that less is more. Our costume makes use of only 2 main materials, synthetic wigs and a plastic fabric with refractive properties. See An Enemy’s shape is a simple cone, allowing focus on the visual effects that are created by the combination of the materials under a UV light. The plastic shell has been created to encourage performative movement, and the aluminium structures have been kept light to not encumber the wearer.
Our costume developed over several iterations. In the beginning, we started playing with the idea of containment, using a cube that was filled with a variety of materials that would move within the box with the help of fans. This concept turned out to be near impossible to manufacture in a way that would allow movement without the use of castors.
Abandoning this idea, a chance discovery of refractive plastic tablecloth materials ended up being the inspiration that we needed.
With this new material, we built See An Enemy as a predatory sea organism that floated along the sea bed. We incorporated the concept of action and reaction to the manual mechanism whereby the outer shell could be lifted and lowered with the use of pulleys, rope and sticks.
Kylie Clarke and I had delegated different tasks for each of us to complete. My role was to construct the outer shell and the mechanics. Kylie created the “hair suit”.
Our first version of See An Enemy proved to be too small to have the impact necessary on the stage of World of Wearable Art. This was a costly mistake, as the materials used are expensive.
The second iteration of our costume saw the outer shell reach two meters in diameter. At this point, we knew that the outfit was at a size that would be impactful on the stage. The addition of a hat that represented the “queen bee” of the colony tied the outfit together.
Through the development of our concept, the creation of a backstory that includes post-humanism, bioluminescence, climate change and sea anemones has helped to shape the way we developed the performative aspect of our costume.
Made of aluminium, the structure of the outer shell was kept as light as possible. Also, we made the decision to have the fewest structural elements to allow the shell to move freely when worn, as well as allowing for the bottom of the shell to lift and reveal the hair suit underneath. Thus, the only structures are a hoop at the top and bottom of the shell and in the harness. The success of this decision can be clearly seen when filming and photographing See An Enemy.