Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Scale and Architecture

Es Devlin

Lesson time 11:29 min

Es explains how three-dimensional modeling has inspired her since she was a child, and how models can help a worldbuilder play with the idea of scale and perspective. She also demonstrates how she takes sketches and shapes them into 3D models.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Scale and Architecture • "Carmen Hands": A Lesson In Scale • Making Giant Things • Invitation 1 • Invitation 2


[MUSIC PLAYING] I was, I guess like any child, surrounded by things in an Alice in Wonderland way, that were way larger than myself, which is a useful context to be placed in to recapture that moment of looking at things from a different perspective, of looking up. We so often look out. We look down. We don't look up. So even that, in itself, is valuable. I think experiencing ourselves at scale, experiencing ourselves as small creatures in relation to something larger than ourselves, experiencing ourselves as powerful creatures in relation to something tinier than ourselves-- these are all really useful mental and psychological exercises that you can play with if you're working at a sculptural scale in performance. One of the dreams of anyone who works in performance design is to design at Bregenz Festival on Lake Constance in Austria. It is singularly, perhaps, one of the most challenging environments in which to design because you are designing an object which is going to emerge from a lake which is tidal. So the water will rise by 1.8 meters, six foot, throughout the course of the run of the shows. So you need to design something that looks good no matter how high the water is. So if you want to make a connection between the water and the object, you've got to think really carefully about how performance might transition between water and object with this tidal variation. So it's quite an engineering adventure. And in terms of scale, these giant hands that you see, that just magically appeared behind me-- they are versions which are one-eighth of the size of the hands that we made at Bregenz which were 35 meters tall, 100 foot. And that gesture came to our minds. I was working with an opera director, Kasper Holton. And we always arrived at Bregenz from Zurich airport. So we had quite a long car journey. And we'd be in the back of the car talking about the opera. Was it going to be a giant bull? Was it going to be a giant matador? Was it going be a giant rose? It was for the opera "Carmen," so what of these things was going to work? What would be the big gesture? Then how would we account for all the moments in the opera that have to tell the story? How do we present the singers? How would we communicate the tragedy at the heart of that piece, the choices that are made by the protagonists? And one journey, Kasper threw his hands up like this and described the moment-- there's one very specific moment in the third act of the opera where Carmen deals out tarot cards and she sees her fate. And there's a piece of music that's called "The Death Theme." And that emerges when she comes up with the Death card in the tarot. And she doesn't want to accept her fate, so she takes the cards and she throws them in the air. And it was that gesture that we then wanted to memorialize and express in these two giant hands that emerged out from the lake, with cards being scattered between the sea and the sky. ...

About the Instructor

For more than 20 years, Es Devlin has sculpted immersive experiences for opera, drama, and performers like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and U2. Now the artist and designer shares her process so you can cultivate creativity in any form. From sketching to collaborating to creating powerful visual stories, learn how to turn the abstract—your ideas and imagination—into art you can see, feel, and share.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Es Devlin

Designer and artist Es Devlin teaches you her approach to creating powerful visual stories and cultivating creativity in any form.

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