Created by Anonymous Ensemble
I had the pleasure of seeing this immersive, live theater performance just a few weeks ago, before I came back to school for the start of the semester. In this piece, you walk in and sit in a room full of the other members of the audience. What appears to be a human in a space-suit-like costume walks over to you and gestures that they would like to put headphones on you. When you consent, they place them over your ears and then you hear a voice call out, “what is your name?” You watch the performer gesticulate to the movements of the computerized voice; as you respond you hear yourself replying, and everyone else replying in turn. Behind this performer is a row of other performers operating various machines and instruments who will speak to you soon. They then ask for an audience member to offer a breath for a breathing ritual. Another for the sound of a heartbeat. As folks volunteer, you hear the breath and heartbeat become the underlying track to a 1000-breath countdown image (appearing on small screens in the corner of your view) that will be denote the length of the performance.
All the audio is created between the computer-like people asking questions and the audience responding. Eventually they put you into dialogue (through them) with other members of the audience. This piece is at its most difficult when you start to question who these seemingly benevolent robot-people are, and it starts to feel confused and potentially dangerous. The piece is at its best when you learn the rules of the live audio system and share in moments of learned and earned interaction. These moments conclude at the end of segments such as ‘politics’ and ‘environment’ when you hear an audio collage-song generated from everyone’s responses played back as the computer people nod and drift their eye contact. A sensation of uploading and analyzing pleasantly washes over you.
I know this piece relied heavily on Max/MSP in order to interface with the live audio and video system in the space, as well as for setting up the audio i/o between all of the performers and audience members.
Info and pictures below: