28 November 2012

Karagoz goes digital

We knew it would eventually arrive and here it is... the digital iKaragoz for iPhone and Android. A little frightening if you ask me, but anything to keep our puppetry traditions alive.

The Turkish corporation Anakule has developed the first puppet application for mobile devices. Although there are other digital animation apps for smart phones, this is the first in the world dedicated exclusively to puppets. It is very simple to use: puppets move through the accelerometer of the device, so users can animate their characters just by moving the smart phone or tablet.

The relation of humans with their iconic objects or puppets might have a different approach in digital era. Now virtual realities and interfaces create a communication environment that uses ways of perception pretty similar to the ones through which object theatre is understood.  If puppets are a physic link between humans and the unknown, the immortal, now the digital world of electronic devices connects us with an abstract dimension of reality. The object itself is no longer important, it does not matter if we have a paper puppet, a tablet or a smart phone, an iPhone or tablet, the important thing is the reality they can create out of us. The movement of puppeteer’s hand is written into binary code for the device’s internal use and read again to animate the image of a character the audience might recognize. Instead of strings or rods, manipulation is now made through a digital interpretation out of human immediate reality.

Anakule puppet app is, by the moment, based on the characters of shadow theatres from all the world. It makes totally sense: shadows are more abstract than the real figures of the puppet show, they are in the halfway to cinema and animation. Anakule studio may program newer apps with 3D puppets in the future, but by now there are available shadow theatre packs with characters from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Greece and, of course, Turkey. (Click on country to see more)

iKaragöz have been released in different versions, containing up to 16 different characters. It has been designed by Uğur Doğan. The demos have been made with the contribution of the puppeteer Mehmet Saylan.  Our thanks to Puppetring for this story.

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