The pandemic introduced virtual gatherings into many people’s lives. Team meetings, activist assemblies, even theater performances were now attended from kitchen chairs, sofas, and beds. Both activists and performance makers (usually strong believers in the need for bodily presence) resorted to screens–and if only because there was no choice. Where are we now and what comes after Zoom? Is the metaverse more than a promise or threat? In this edition of the Art of Assembly we look at how performing arts are approaching digital realms. Journalist Kent Bye, who hosted hundreds of game developers, academics, creatives, and enthusiasts in the VR and AR fields on his podcast “Voices of VR,” offers a brief overview of virtual gatherings in art and activism. Jaamil Olawale Kosoko speaks about their virtual performance suite Chameleon: The Living Installments, exploring the fugitive realities of living at the intersection of digitality, Blackness and queerness. Sarah Rothberg introduces her playful VR/AR experiences and talks about the intersection of interactivity and performance.
Author: brut Koproduktionshaus Wien
SARAH ROTHBERG ° Interfacing as Art
How does an interface distribute power? How does a social arrangement? How to imagine how to create both anew?
Sarah Rothberg presents artworks including NEW MEETINGS and THING.TUBE, which invite you to consider how the design of a communication technology shapes the way we connect. NEW MEETINGS is a real-time animated performance of avatars “meeting about whatever” broadcast from within a custom metaverse. THING.tube, a livestream network for artists made with the collective Is this THING On? (Christopher Clary, soft networks, and Molly Soda) is an experiment in software-development-as-performance.
KENT BYE ° VR Presence & Live Immersive Performance Trends
In his talk Kent Bye reflects on the affordances of different mediums through the perspective of VR presence, and then looks at some of the immersive theatre and performance trends happening at the intersection of VR and immersive storytelling. Agency, embodiment, social dynamics, and emotional immersion are elemental ingredients that are combined in different ways to modulate the phenomenological qualities of immersive experiences, whether they are virtual or physical. Breaking down some of these live performances from the immersive storytelling and film festival circuit will help to elucidate some of the deeper trends happening with the future of AI and VR/AR (aka XR).
jaamil olawale kosoko ° American Chameleon. The Living Installments
From the stage, to the living room, to outdoor screenings, to fantasy, to the privacy of one’s own bedroom, dance animates physical life—but with what? Over the years since the pandemic, dance artists have had to negotiate how their work meshes with digital social systems in order to create new channels for audience engagement.
XXII: Provoke me if you can. The crisis of artistic disturances (with Núria Güell, Renzo Marten & Florian Malzacher)
Provocations as a means of disturbance have long been part of artists’ as well as activists’ basic toolkits. But in a time when many already feel permanently snubbed, artistic provocations often seem stale and redundant. The demand for repair, care, and healing dominates artistic discourse. On the other hand, when climate activists glue themselves to highways or oil paintings, emotions run high throughout society. Meanwhile, the political far-right blatantly focuses on lowering inhibition thresholds: Continued taboo-breaking pushes the boundaries of what is say- and doable. Núria Güell’s artistic practice continuously challenges moral and legal conventions when, for example, she offers herself as a bride to random Cuban man who wants to get a Spanish passport, or when, in reverse, she tries to become stateless herself. Renzo Martens disturbed viewers with videos such as Enjoy Poverty in which he centered himself as a white man and propagated the self-gentrification of Congolese plantations. Meanwhile, however, his role as a performer as well as the relationship to the protagonists of his work has fundamentally changed. In time where confrontational practices are generally questioned, The Art of Assembly investigates how the concept of provocation has shifted in recent years.
RENZO MARTENS ° Building a World With Critique
How a white artist purposefully positioned himself as a beneficiary of murderous and exploitative policies, to later restitute the means of production to the very plantations that have funded European and American white cubes.
NÚRIA GÜELL ° When morality becomes immoral
Núria Güell’s artistic practice continuously challenges moral and legal conventions when, for example, she offers herself as a bride to random Cuban man who wants to get a Spanish passport, or when, in reverse, she tries to become stateless herself. Her lecture revolves around the use of provocation in contemporary art practice, and in her own practice in particular, closed and open meanings, political art, moral imperatives and the ethics of consequences.
XXI: The subversive Power of Music (with Phil Collins, Anne Hahn, Reyhan Şahin aka Lady Bitch Ray & Florian Malzacher)
Music is biggest business and at the same time a space for revolt against the status quo, the regulations and constraints of society. This edition of The Art of Assembly looks at the dissident side of music, how it can suggest alternative ways of living, create identities and foster feelings of belonging and support. Author Anne Hahn organized in punk concerts in the GDR, lost her study-permission and later was imprisoned: East German sub-cultures were one of the few ways to carve out a bit of freedom within the system. For visual artist Phil Collins, who grew up in the North of England in the ’70s and ’80s, clubbing has always been political. He organised a disco-dance marathon in Palestine, worked with fans of The Smiths across three continents, and recently released a benefit album of house music recorded with formerly incarcerated individuals. Linguist and author Reyhan Şahin aka Lady Bitch Ray – the most prominent and controversial female rapper in German language – lost her journalistic job fifteen years ago over lyrics that were considered as too sexually explicit. With her songs and writings, she fights against racism, sexism and discrimination – and has proved that hard rap and feminism may well go together.
XX: Nous Accusons! People’s Tribunals between Politics, Activism & Art (with Lisa Ito-Tapang / Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Wolfgang Kaleck / ECCHR, Madlyn Sauer & Florian Malzacher)
Inspired by People’s Tribunals like the one organized by philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1966 to investigate American war crimes in… Read more XX: Nous Accusons! People’s Tribunals between Politics, Activism & Art (with Lisa Ito-Tapang / Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Wolfgang Kaleck / ECCHR, Madlyn Sauer & Florian Malzacher)
PHIL COLLINS ° Bring Down the Walls
Bring Down The Walls looks at the prison industrial complex through the lens of house music and nightlife, proposing the dance… Read more PHIL COLLINS ° Bring Down the Walls