Water puppetry is a Vietnamese art performance where puppets made of wood and lacquered perform on water. Characteristic of puppets are usually expressed through its face and motion controlled by the puppeteers who are hidden behind the screen. Performance of the puppets are very diverse as they can move, dance, dive, fly, and even breathe fire.
A play of water puppets reveals daily life of Vietnamese farmers reflecting the culture and spirits of Vietnamese people, the Red Delta River civilization.
Today I watched a VTV show named Cultures, Events and Personage about a story of the artist, Chu Luong. He is an artist of the water puppetry, whose life is for the art. He told about his passion of the water puppetry, the working condition of the puppeteers, the status of the water puppetry in Vietnam, impact of the water puppetry introducing Vietnamese culture to the world and of course his puppets. As he said, soul of the puppets is mostly expressed on its face. This information together with my awareness of the body motion of the water puppets seen in past triggered a crazy idea in my mind about how to embed robotics in the water puppets. As seen, the puppet is a rigid body with very few degree of freedom. I do not know why there are only few (I have to ask puppeteers), but I guess that the puppeteers can only control the puppets with a limited few degree of freedom, especially standing in water and hidden behind the screen. However, I strongly believe that the puppet with high degree of freedom in their body reveals more meaning through their body motion. The robotic technology embedded in the puppets might:
- issue more control degree for the puppeteers
- allow sophisticated motion of the puppets
- synchronize the puppets' degree of freedom along with the puppeteers control
- and if all the puppets are programmed to perform a play, the control role of the puppeteers is released and they can freely act as a DJ in musics to add their feeling to the performance stream.
One thing I am wondering is is I do no know whether this creative changes the traditional property of the water puppetry. But I know, it is definitely a crazy idea . Will see!
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