Pictoplasma is the world’s leading platform for contemporary character design and art. The project pushes forward interdisciplinary discussion, development and promotion of a new breed of visual vocabulary—from illustration to animation, game to interactive design, urban to graphic arts. The brainchild of Peter Thaler and Lars Denicke was founded in 1999 to investigate possibilities and limitations of current character representation.The focus is on how reduced and minimalist design can evoke maximal empathy—and help create meaningful interaction beyond the constrictions of narration.
From 2006 until 2012, we worked together on bringing a wide array of characters to life on the stage, in the streets, in parties, videos, print and more. ‘Get Into Character’ at the Haus Der Berliner Festspiele, ‘The Missing Link’ in the Volksbühne Berlin, and a week of street interventions in Bordeaux, France as a part of an Interactive Design Festival, curated by Mark Jenkins are a few highlights of my collaboration with Pictoplasma and all of the artists that contributed their work to make those characters come to life.
The Missing Link Show
In 2011 Pictoplasma conceived “The Missing Link Show”, a performative piece combining live music concerts, video projections and dance performances to create an over-the-top pop opera. While the live music acts function on their own as a pop concert, the parallel visuals and performances add a narrative layer, following the visual narration of the last mysterious entities without a clear depiction in our culture of visual overdose and instant google-search gratification: The Missing Link. The show plays out the fantasy of how these characters fell from their happy homogenous existence as a functional hippiesque tribe to turn into a hunted species of lonely, desperate creatures and outsiders, and culminates in an alternative synthesis of their return to fulfill an immersive ritual that involves us humans. Directed by Jared Gradinger, the show premiered 2011 on the revolving stage of the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, featuring Maximilian Hecker and Dan Deacon, and was re-staged in an adapted version at la Gaîté Lyrique, Paris, in collaboration with Jason Forrest.
GET INTO CHARACTER
In 2006 Pictoplasma transformed the most captivating, screwball and outstanding graphical characters of the times into fantastic costumes. Padded, hydraulic or helium-filled, the creatures literally came to life. Based on the designs of illustrators from Buenos Aires, Miami, Barcelona, Toronto, Osaka or Paris, the new inhabitants of the virtual PictoOrphanage allowed real-life donors to sponsor them – and thereby enable the production and birth of corporeal characters from the realm of the digital image.
Dancers and performers under the direction of choreograph Jared Gradinger (Constanza Macras / Dorky Park, Berlin) explored these new life forms and their individual character. Freed from the binds of storytelling and advertising, the characters developed their individual will, which they have proudly demonstrated in the 60 minute performance piece “Get into Character” on stage of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. Meanwhile, the orphans have absolved countless guerrilla style interventions and made memorable appearances in all corners of the globe, from France, the USA, The Netherlands, Sweden, all the way to China, turning the urban streets into a main stage for their adventures.