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Reconciling the Body with Technology through Cyborgs, Virtual Worlds, and Altered States

Choreographers and creative technologists team up in CounterPulse’s new Combustible Residency.

Image from CPA [Consistent Partial Attention] by Freya Björg Olafson, performed / research with James Phillips, and Lise McMillan (photo by Josh Doohkie)
How does technology destabilize the meaning of the corporeal body? Will our physical bodies become avatars for our virtual selves? Are we cyborgs yet?

Combustible, the newest residency program at CounterPulse, brings together choreographers and technologists to create new staged performance works that explore the relationship of body-based art and new technologies. This September, inaugural residents Freya Olafson and Yagiz Mungan present MÆ — Motion Aftereffect, a bold new performance that antagonizes and rediscovers the physical body using virtual reality technology.The MÆ project is interested in the slippage — the lost in translation — from our bodies to VR and back. Olafson and Mungan frame the understanding of VR systems like a form of modern magic, VR as an altered state, even a psychedelic experience. From the perspective of sitting in a black box theater, this calls to mind how theater too is an experience of an altered state.

Modern technologies like VR are blurring the boundaries of reality, a job formerly performed by the arts. How are modern technologies taking on this role? The MÆ project works to undermine the spectacle-status of the VR medium and speculate how these technologies will come to cohabitate with our lived corporeal experience.

The project engages with ready-made content from the Internet: motion capture libraries, 3D models and monologues of individuals recounting their experiences with VR in live gameplay, explorative worlds, and VR porn catalyzing conversations about contemporary culture and performance while imagining society’s future with advances in VR technologies.

Don’t miss MÆ — Motion Aftereffect by Freya Olafson with Yagiz Mungan, presented in a double bill with Kinetech Arts’ new work MESH, a work exploring resistance to body economics.

Only at CounterPulse September 7–16, 2017, Thursday–Saturday. Fridays are pay-what-you-can.

Get tickets at counterpulse.org.