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The Builders Association and dbox, SUPER VISION: PRESENCE ON STAGE

SUPER VISION tells three stories

1. As he crosses successive borders, a solitary traveller gradually is forced to reveal all of his personal information, until his identity becomes transparent, with no part of his life left outside the boundaries of datasurveillance.

2. A young woman (Jen), addicted to the white noise of constant connection, maintains a long-distance relationship with her Grandmother. As she makes efforts to digitally archive her Grandmother's past, the Grandmother slips into senility.

3. A father covertly exploits his young son's personal data to meet the demands of the family's lifestyle. This ploy escalates beyond the father's control, until he is compelled to disappear. His wife and son are left with a starkly diminished data portrait, and his escape is shadowed by the long reach of the datasphere.

Uploaded Image

Left to right: Moe Angelos (the Grandmother), forestage and mediated live;
Tanya Selvaratnam (Jen) mediated live and onstage; Moe Angelos mediated
live onto computer screen.
photo by dbox

Marianne Weems

Nick Kaye: Is an address to presence an explicit part of your thinking in your work with The Builders Association?

Marianne Weems: Yes. So many people have asked me - why don’t you just do film? But clearly it is partly the pleasure of staging the idea of presence - and what is happening to these very strong performers in a very strong media environment, and how their presence is either – as you say – extended in some ways and amplified or compromised or endangered. And the frictions in there are really what to me is the most fascinating thing about presence on the stage. No performer in this project, I think, is ever really fully present in an unmediatized way. There is always some encroachment. And some audience members receive that as being very cold. But there is a kind of virtuosity in the play between image and performers, and the tension and excitement of unfolding this mediatic spectacle live in front of an audience.

There is a kind of a Brechtian moment where you get to see the live performer and then you see the tools that are being used to complete the magnification. For me, the pleasure is in looking at both of those things. The skill that the performers bring to using the technology is quite virtuosic - the way that Joe Silovsky can actually ‘talk’ to Rizwan Mirza on camera even though his live face is two inches from a wall. It’s an added layer of performance that I find very entertaining –actually seeing the tools of the production constantly being used. The real team players, the people who are in this ensemble, understand that they are a part of this larger stage picture and this stage picture is contributing to their performance.

Nick Kaye: I think it tends to heighten the presence of the performers.

Marianne Weems: I have worked with people who have said: ‘Nobody is going looking at me, they are just going to be looking at the screen

Nick Kaye: That is often the assumption, but I think curiously, also, when, Moe Angelos has her back to you, yet the screen refers to her, it seems to amplify her live presence, or your focus on her live presence.

Marianne Weems: Yes, absolutely. The subtlety of her live presence draws your focus because she’s not jumping up and down saying ‘look at me!’ What distinguishes this work, as you say, is the that the performers are engaged in the whole web of making the show; every thing around them brings them out, brings their 'humanness' out in a different way than if they were just on stage alone. It is in dialogue with whole machine that surrounds them - their presence does become more articulated and magnified.

see also: electronic network | performer presence | playing to camera | theatre presence |


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