Once upon a time in 2001 I travelled to Maynooth in northern Ontario to take part in an event called ‘Tech-no-bondage’ with the Hijack Collective. This multi-media collective liked to hijack non-performance spaces and turn them in to interesting venues.
At this event my friend, film maker and media artist Lester Alfonso hijacked the Kathak dance form into digital media. I have yet to escape. Lester surrounded me with a series of television sets placed around the Arlington Hotel with project
ions and a sound track which would intermittently dissolve into digital static. As I improvised to the projected images, the Static would throw me into digital chaos every time.
A few months later we decided to collaborate on a more structure version of dance, the sound of bells and digital static. The Static piece was born. Text was written by Anna Greenspan of the CCRU (the erstwhile cybernetic culture research unit), a score was devised by Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys fame and a video projection was created by Lester Alfonso.
I designed a choreography with 4 dancers. Myself with Kathak. Kyla, Anjalie and Melissa with contemporary movement. The 3 dancers performing contemporary movement acted as futuristic antennae. They were choreographed with ascending and descending counts to move at different times as if receiving digital signals. The Kathak dancer with bells battled the chaos of static.
The piece evolved in 2007 for a proscenium performance with a 21-minute score by Hamilton dig
ital sound artist Matthew Boughner. The score combined digitally produces hums, squeaks and static with clicks and tabla rhythms. Lester Alfonso created a new video. The piece in 2007 still predated
the universal use of cellular devices and iPads. Yet I envisioned each dancer to be an antenna channeling her own signal, trying to communicate across static through a language of rhythms. Another dancer tried to engage in yoga practice, which seemed like a different kind of channeling, and also tried changing channels on an imaginary television.
Fast Forward. May 2019. Static is invited as a short solo to be performed in Peterborough. We are all now individual digital antennae. The strange distant concept of digital chaos has become a reality.
The piece is still evolving and
What happens if the signals stop?