Monday, October 17, 2011

the creators project: connection mediated by technology

I spent the afternoon in DUMBO today at the creators project
plowing my way through crowds drawn by the next generation of art making--
installations and projects from around the world, that had traveled the physical world,
to arrive in New York.

I described it to my Dad as "kinda like Macworld except more artsy, or rather more aesthetically oriented and less utilitarian." In particular, I was thinking of the iPhone app that recorded the duration of the fall using an internal accelerometer. Ok Free Fall High Score, I get the antagonism. That's fine.

Mostly, I walked away with the idea that we are moving into yet another level of interactive art. Relational Art of the '90s doesn't cut it anymore, sorry Rirkrit. In a world where you can tweet, text, and blog your vote in a matter of seconds (for the President or the Idol), art installations are engaging viewers to an extreme they never have before. It's not about the artist interacting with just the art piece, and it's not even about the artist interacting with the audience anymore. Now, art requires that the audience members interact with one another--all mediated through the medium of technology. Dialogue in 0s and 1s much as we do outside the walls of the gallery.

The majority of the pieces entice the viewer's direct action: SuperUber's SuperPong game that was a digital amalgamation of Pong and Foosball; Meditation by Minha Yang, which featured three speakers and red light beams that responded to viewers intentional salutes; and Six-Forty by Four-Eighty by Zigelbaum + Coelho, which was like a sophisticated version of those light up peg games. There was even a meta-articulation of the breakdown of communication as mediated by technology! Diskinect by Team Diskinect examined the failure of a Kinect console to accurately recreate a human's actions on a rigged marionette.

Most effective, however, was Jonathan Glazer and J. Spaceman's A physical manifestation of Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space. A dark winding corridor gives way to a hall with four diagonal skylights leading to overly iridescent lightbulbs sending shafts of light into the space. Hipsters and designers alike were sprawled out on the floor staring into thousands of watts of eye damage and I was thinking... kitsch. And then I lied down.


Glazer and Spaceman succeed in recreating the equivalent of stained glass windows to a peasant with bubonic plague. From the reverberations of sound waves through the floor, to the sunny glow of isolated wells of light, this small warehouse in Brooklyn had me looking for St. Peter's key. It was transcendent, ethereal, and perhaps even a bit extraterrestrial. And the reason why it succeeded was that in that moment, there was a transference of awe that was shared in and through the bodies of the witnesses. Organized religion and transubstantiation aside, the experience was wholly somatic, and thus, did not require translation.

This is what I strive for in my choreography.

To make work that is in and on the body, that is felt in and on the body.
Aesthetic appreciation and visual literacy aside, I want to make work that transfers from one body to another, so that there is no need for intermediaries.

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