Name: PETE OTTER MONTFORD
Mission: TO MAKE OTOPIA COME ALIVE AND CREATE THE MOST EXCITING INTERACTIVE GAMES EVER!
It was back in 2008 that I met Pete after stumbling across a wonderful collection of people from Reading at a festival called Bangface. We have kept in touch online and it’s been great seeing his project grow from concept to fruition.
Pete has been creating interactive installations and performances for over 7 years. “I started creating my interactive work initially as a reaction to the contemporary art that I was bombarded with at university. I studied Fine Art & Philosophy and was engulfed by concepts and theories about anything and everything. I wanted to create work that could be enjoyed by everyone. On one level it can be purely delightful, entertaining, unique and slightly challenging, but it also has some depth to it so anyone seeking to go further into the idea can.”
As a child Pete had a love of watching street performers and entertainers and his father was a magician so he grew up with a fascination for the mechanisms of tricks, “I think that can be seen in the shows that I create now. Artistically I’ve been inspired by Bridget Riley, Vasarely and Escher for their beautiful and mind-bending images. Also Jorge Luis Borges’ timeless short stories have stayed with me forever and helped create my own narrative around my life.”
The word OTTER has been a feature of Pete’s life since he was about 15 as it appeared on a number of occasions in strange circumstances. “After the first encounter I immediately felt some affinity with the word, but it didn’t take long until I had lost it. But then otter came back somewhere else and it happened enough times for me to start taking it seriously and those otters became my OTTER. Since then I have been on a ongoing quest to try and discover the true nature of OTTER.”
The OTTER crew has evolved and grown over the years. “I made friends with most of the team while I was at university. The Global Cafe in Reading is the central hub for creatives and makers in Reading, a lot of similar minded people gather and party together. After drinking and working there for a few years while creating OTTER projects, friends helped out with the building of the installations and performing with the Coin-Op, and gradually a solid team developed.”
Two years ago Pete set up the outdoor arts company OTTER Produces to represent the larger team involved in both the creation and performing of the shows. We are a group committed to creating outlandish interactive puzzle games to tour around festivals and street theatre events in the UK and eventually the whole world! “I owe a hell of a lot to all of the crew that have put in their time and effort into the projects and have been patient and relentlessly positive, even when they’re sitting through hours of makeup! OTTER Produces couldn’t exist without them and the public’s reactions make it all worth while for us. We have had and continue to receive a fantastic response and they are genuine and long-lasting experiences that stay with the us and audience for a long time.”
OTTER Produces first show was the Coin-Operated Artist which is a memory game with black and white striped hosts, OTTER, RETTO and ORTET running the machine. Inside their black and white box is Pete, the half-man/half-machine Coin-Operated Artist. Players are sent in to entertain him with 7 actions that they must complete in the right order to win their prize. “I had the idea and built the project but now OTTER is seemingly running the show. He’s the one who meets the public, he’s the face and character they rememeber, the company name is even his! The art is in control and the artist is now in the background, one of the cogs in OTTER’s unwieldy machine.”
The only issue the team have had is managing to work around the major height restrictions of their creation space. “Our workshop is just about at it’s limit now, we are looking for a new space that can allow us to expand to our full potential. It’s meant we have had to be a little novel in the way we think and put together our installations, not always to our advantage, but we’re doing it nonetheless!”
OTTER’s latest show is due for it’s first appearance in July after two years in the pipeline. “The Hall of Optical Obstacles is a hall of mirrors style laser assault course that tests agility and wits as players must try to pass through the corridor without tripping a laser. We are going to be saving scores online so people can compete with each other all over the country as we tour. We are super excited about this project!” Beyond this summer they have some big plans for 2016 in the form of the Ottertorium. “We’re working on a multi-stage show for festivals. We have also prototyped a smaller walkabout show, ‘eOTT’ that I hope to get going for the same time. Do come and say hello if you see us out and about this summer!”