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Transformit Builds Award-winning Giant Stretch-fabric Jellyfish for 'Drop in the Ocean' VR Experience
Transformit, the Maine based tension-fabric design studio, built a giant sculptural jellyfish virtual reality theater that starred at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, took up residency at the California Academy of Sciences, and was awarded an International Achievement Award (IAA) for design excellence and technical skill in specialty fabrics from the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI).
Designed by Thinc Design of New York City, the jellyfish is purpose-built to house Drop in the Ocean, an immersive virtual reality experience. Produced by Vision3 and Conservation International, Drop in the Ocean is an interactive, social, virtual-reality experience that immerses participants deep in the sea — and directly into the plastic pollution crisis plaguing the world’s oceans. The seven-minute-long experience is built from the photo archive of Academy Award-winning micro-photographer Peter Parks, narrated by explorers Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau, and features the ambient music of Gold Panda.
The jellyfish was designed and built to fulfill practical, artistic, and technical requirements. To create the physical environment for the Drop in the Ocean VR experience, it had to accommodate up to 30 people, including six participants as well as those in the queue and those in a transition space afterwards. Artistically—through form, visuals, and lighting—the jellyfish had to evoke the virtual deep-ocean experience within. And, the skeleture of the Jellyfish needed to support cables and hardware, such as cameras and lighting, necessary to the interactive VR technology. On top of all this, as a travelling exhibit, the entire structure needed to assemble in such a manner that it could be readily disassembled, packed for transport, and reassembled at its next installation. The lightweight aluminum tubing framework and tension-fabric skins with custom graphics enabled Transformit’s build to satisfy all of these key elements of the project and fabricate this fantastical jellyfish theater.
This extraordinary exhibit, that melds artistic design with cutting edge technology, was awarded an Award of Excellence in the IAA’s Fabric Environments Interior Display category earlier this month.
Transformit is a design / build studio founded in 1987 by sculptor Cynthia Thompson, MFA, to create fabric art and sculptural structures that transform built environments, events, and exhibits. Based outside of Portland, Maine, the studio conceives, designs, engineers, fabricates, and installs artful tension-fabric installations world-wide. Learn more at www.transformit.com.
About Thinc Design
Thinc Design exists to provoke meaningful conversations about the world in which we live. Through designing exhibitions and attractions as diverse as art museums, science centers, aquaria, zoos and brand experiences, New York City based Thinc transforms how people think about the world and each other.
About Drop in the Ocean
Co-produced by Conservation International and Vision3.
About IFAI’s International Achievement Awards
For seven decades, IAA has recognized excellence in design and innovation, highlighting truly spectacular work in the specialty fabrics and technical textiles industry. IFAI’s goal is to promote awareness of the specialty fabrics used in thousands of products and applications in the growing, $130 billion-plus dollar global fabrics marketplace. IFAI received a total of 255 entries from 24 countries in 42 categories for this year’s competition. Winners were selected based on complexity, design, workmanship, uniqueness and function. Judges included industry experts, editors, architects, educators and design professionals.
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