#CdnCult

Reporting and commentary about Canadian performance culture in Internet times • July 21, 2016


#CdnCult Volume 7, Edition 6: DIGITAL PERFORMANCE

POWEr : audiovisual performance by Alexandre Burton and Julien Roy at ISEA in Vancouver 2015.

Last month, Elon Musk (whose current projects include Hyperloop trains, Tesla electric cars, and Space X missions to Mars) stated it was more likely than not that humans are living in a computer simulation. The argument is that humans are either going to go extinct, or will survive. And if we survive, given advances in virtual reality, the expansion of processing speeds and digital storage, and our taste for simulation games, we must be in a simulation now.

That’s a lot of givens.

Musk’s argument, and the cascade of responses from tech industry heads, speaks to the ongoing love affair humanity has with technology and the possibilities that technology create.

At SpiderWebShow, we are, obviously, head over heels. We are in deep.

In this edition of #CdnCult, SpiderWebShow Co-Creators Sarah Garton Stanley and Michael Wheeler discuss with dramaturg Alison Bowie and technologist Joel Adria the first test of #CdnStudio – our online rehearsal hall designed to connect artists in different cities within one creative space. Choreographer Natalie Gan discusses her relationship to technology, decolonizing practice and the body. And Adrienne Wong examines the performative aspects of the latest digital sensation, Pokémon GO.

What is performance in the digital age? Probably a lot different from what it was even 10 years ago. Would theatre-goers from the world before the use of electric light recognize the form that is pervasive now from 50-seat black box houses to proscenium arch theatre for the multitudes? Probably – but it would be much different than anything they had seen before.

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The Birth of a Digital Rehearsal Process for Live Performance: A Slack Convo

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I have been dreaming about this project for the better part of two years. The balance of the time was spent trying to find terms of reference to explain my dream to my colleagues. At several points along the path I abandoned hope. My desires far outstripped my technical acumen and it was only through a kind of patience, that has been a major part of SpiderWebShow’s success, that I was able to hold on.


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Rage-ing With and Against The Machine

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SEX. I realize now I prefer to write about sex. Maybe I can meander my way from technology to my preferred topic. Facebook friends chimed in on my wall with ideas. Many offered up suggestive descriptions of banal tasks, like “plugging in” USB keys, or “turning on” electricity. Techroticism, I’ll call it. Aside from the innuendo, people seem to believe that technology is mostly about sex anyway, that our interactions with it are laden with sexual gestures and motifs.


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Performativity and Pokémon GO

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Ultimately, players of Pokémon GO are taking on roles and those roles are emboldening, inspiring, and driving them to action. The city is no longer the site of day-to-day transactions and travel: it is now the setting for adventure. As gamers move away from static positions locked to screens and into physical intervention in the real world, their role expands from player to performer. They are performing actions, interacting with other players, and – knowingly or not – are watchable. And trust me, you’re being watched (unless you’re Justin Bieber).