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Lately I have been exploring different processes in the creation of hybrid reality work, experimenting with how I can merge real life theatre, film, animation, dance, movement and/or choreography with virtual performances and events. At the end of a year of exploration I was surprised to find that I am most at home with the kinds of processes and results that dance has to offer – organic, responsive, exploratory. Dance has proven more receptive to incorporating new technologies and virtuality than any of the other traditional disciplines. In these photos by Justin Hall I am working without a net in a very spontaneous performance piece that took place last summer – Upside Down World, Pearls for Pigs – at the BBMC studio in St. John’s and simultaneously at the Odyssey Contemporary Art and Performance Simulator in Second Life.

Following a lees than ideal gallery experience this piece about taking control of the context within which I shows work. Avatar performers – Fau Ferdinand/Yael Gilks (UK) and Jo Ellsmere/Jane Leffler (USA) – interacted with me from virtual space via a large projection. There was very little script, only images and cues for certain actions to happen. The rest of the performance was an exploration. The avatars could see my actions via a webstream and so could also respond to me. The performance was a process that I went through with others, as opposed to being something that I stood up and performed, it was a direct response to the present. It marked a change in my approach to live performance.

Since then I have been actively seeking experiences that feed these impulses to reach, to explore the moment, to expose the boundary. It’s just more fun that way. I have been lucky to be able to work with dancers through programs offered by Neighbourhood Danceworks in contact improvisation and choreography. I am also working whenever I can with the amazing dancer/choreographer Tammy MacLeod to develop ideas. We are currently creating a new piece slated for a first viewing as part of Neighbourhood Danceworks’ First Look series in July.

Here is a video of the performance and the avatar audience from the virtual side. The machinima is made by UK artist Arahan Claveau:

Upside Down World (Pearls For Pigs) from Arahan Claveau on Vimeo.

Here is a photo series from the studio side – photo series by Justin Hall

Upside Down World (Pearls for Pigs) made possible by the support of the Canada Council for the Arts Media Arts Section and the Black Bag Media Collective in cooperation with Roles for Women Theatre Company.

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