Legs On The Wall – Open Source artist residency
Macrophonics collective – Julian Knowles, Donna Hewitt, Tim Bruniges and Wade Marynowsky will be one of two artist groups in residence at Legs On The Wall in Sydney in Nov/Dec 2012 as part of the Open Source program.
This project is supported by the Australia Council for the Arts and provides and opportunity for artists working with media technologies to undertake a month long residency with the company to explore an aspect of digital media in theatre/performance contexts.
The group plans to build on the work and momentum of Macrophonics in 2011 by establishing a group collaboration framework to explore the use of sensing technologies and instruments in a theatrical context. Each artist brings a different skill set and, in combination, they represent an extremely broad capability across sound and visual media technologies and physical computing. Much of our work to date has focused on sensing in an ‘instrumental music’ fashion, drawing upon music models for performer/technological interaction. In this project we will examine the ways in which we can work with live theatre performers as agents within a multi-performer sensing project. Video tracking, position, distance and touch sensors will be used to create a responsive space for performance. The performance space will output data as a result of the performer’s movement and this data will be drawn upon by the Macrophonics team to create a responsive sound and media scape. The objective will be to augment the expressive range of the theatre performer by situating them in a responsive environment – specifically to explore and define new direct relationships between the theatre performers, musicians and media artists who traditionally work with a network of indirect or interpretive relationships with one another.
The second area of investigation will be to examine in what ways a media performance ensemble might be integrated into the on stage context, such that the line between theatre performer and composer/performer/media artist is blurred. This echoes some of the pioneering work of The Wooster Group in the early 1990s in which the line between live action and recorded action was blurred in parallel with the line between performer and ‘technician’. We were lucky enough to see The Wooster Group’s performance of Chekov’s Three Sisters, called ‘BraceUp!’, at the Performing Garage in New York, directed by Elizabeth LeCompte. In bringing these media rich works to fruition, the ‘technical’ or ‘off stage’ creative team were treated as part of the performance ensemble in the development process. The media set-up (in the early 1990s it was TVs, videotape recorders, cameras, microphones etc.) was established at the beginning of the rehearsal process and informed all aspects of the dramaturgical rendering of the work (Mee, 1992).
What might now be possible if we pick up on these concepts in 2012, with contemporary technologies, and explore these liminal spaces between technology and bodies and the various creative roles in live theatre?
The members of the team all have strong individual practices in experimental music, sound and media arts. Our work is fundamentally research based and engages with the challenges of performance in heavily mediatised contexts. Whilst there are precedents in the world of theatre for media rich performance incorporating performer sensing, it is too rare in Australia. The major experiment however, is in the challenges and opportunities to see an ensemble of media artists brought into a set of direct performer to performer relationships through performance data exchange and to devise working methods and processes which might open up new dramaturgical potentials. Seeing the performance space as a fundamentally responsive space, changes most aspects of how one might approach the development of a work for theatre.