A Cluster of 17 Cases

  • Style: Motion Control
  • Client: Blast Theory
  • Year: 2021

Blast Theory are known internationally as one of the most adventurous artists’ groups in interactive media. The innovative company creates interactive art to explore social and political questions. They place audiences at the centre of their work. A Cluster of 17 Cases explores the events leading up to the outbreak of SARS in 2003.

Our job was to film a miniature replica of the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong where a 64-year-old doctor infected 16 people with SARS. Using a subminiature camera, (about the size of a sugar cube) we could take viewers on an ‘eye level’ interactive journey. Inside hotel rooms we identify 3 of the 17 infected people; using VO we discover the onward journey they took.

The work is a mobile centric website. Upon arrival the visitor gets a short introduction to the work, transitioning to full screen video shot within the model of the Metropole Hotel. The experience places you emerging from the elevator into the lobby on the 9th floor, at ‘eye level’. You can choose to enter and exit any of the 3 rooms wherein you hear the experiences of the 3 occupants. At this point you have no idea if they lived or if they died.

Afterwards, the scene changes and now smoke (created using dry ice) flows through the corridors to demonstrate the negative air pressure at work in the ventilation system which enabled the virus to spread. Epidemiologists used this technique in their investigations following the outbreak.


The interactive piece is part of Science Gallery Bengaluru exhibition Contagion and exhibited as part of Contagious! at the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave from 16 July 2020 to 9 January 2022. In 2018 the Museum of New York City exhibited the work as well as Tai Kwun in Hong Kong in 2019. The New York Times labelled the experience ‘nerve-shredding’.

  • Motion Control
  • Miniature Photography
  • High-speed photography
  • Visual Effects
  • Interactive