Madeleine: As a set designer what has the shift
into the virtual world been like for you?
Erin: It’s very interesting for me coming from being a set designer to designing in the digital world completely, out of 3D software, and trying to construct this 360 environment using only the digital.
Before, when I was working with a more traditional form of theatre, I was rejecting the digital world a little bit. I feel like a lot of people shared the same views as me. We wanted to retain that liveness and togetherness, watching something in the same space, and we thought that that was very important for what theatre is.
I believe that still, but I think that because of that, a lot of people hold back from digital mediums because they feel like somehow you lose that togetherness. Which I completely understand, but I feel like there are ways to achieve that or alternatively, with Chamber404 we just went okay this is a one person experience, that's it. Because you know, there are limitations in traditional theatre experiences as well. There is a stage, you can’t forget about the stage, everyone can see it's a stage and it's not real. That's a limitation of [traditional] theatre, but a limitation of digital spaces, I guess, like with Chamber404, is it's not a shared experience. But we can still make art out of limitation.
Madeleine: Tell us where the idea for Chamber404 came from?
Erin: I worked with my partner Sourrain, and it came out of our experience of working apart on two different sides of the world. For most of the making of Chamber404 we just had loads and loads of conversations online. Each sitting in our bedrooms. We came to this realisation that in Covid, and in this time of the internet age, our bedrooms have gone from a private space to a public space. You do everything there, you socialise on your phone, do your work, everything in your bedroom. I feel like lots of people don’t realise that transition; we all still view that as your private space. That's why we wanted to start from there [in a bedroom], it's a provocation for audiences to think differently.
Dylan: How do you go about designing it?
Did you make paper models of the set or...
Erin: We didn’t because I was kind of trying to be this ‘digital artist.’ I later found out that that was so hard; it would have been good for me to think of it as more of a tactile 3D piece.
But the whole thing did go through a transition, at the beginning of the project it was more of an abstract bedroom, we wanted the whole thing to be surreal and dreamy. But later we came to the conclusion that we wanted it to start somewhere that felt more grounded, somewhere that feels like a real space for the audience. There is that journey that they go on from their bedroom, to the show's bedroom (which feels similar to their world) and then into this completely crazy cyber world.