Chipping: Visual artist´s review


Investigating what it is to be confused and consumed by a dense urban landscape, this 2014 work by Munich based choreographer Anna Konjetzky made its Czech debut in Studio ALTA this evening.

Chipping employs a dynamic stage set, physically, dramatically, emotionally... in which our soloist runs the gamut of emotions from curious to confused, at ease to driven, and finally subverted to the greater forces or their world, our world.

Through a series of motor drives, pulleys and cables that laterally cross the stage, four wooden structures – resembling gymnast's vaulting boxes – glide, judder and sweep to reshape the set which our single androgynous and hooded inhabitant must navigate.

Chipping is driven by a soundtrack of glitches, rhythmic pulsations and heavy beats, changing in volume and intensity, briefly falling to silence about two-thirds through the performance, giving our dancer a brief moment of respite before she is turned by the machine, entering the beat of the city, emerging from the crash, a technically digested life form of the environment, the movements converted to a more rigorous, precise and digital form yet maintaining the low frequency vibration in movement that anchors almost the entire human movement.

Though the audience observes only one performer – the agile and unstoppable Sahra Huby – there are in fact two more performers (Timm Burkhardt and Anton Lukas) actively participating in the piece, yet their presence is confined to the gods of the theatre, unnoticed by the audience who assume them only to be the technicians necessary for the operation of a production which employs a wider range of technologies. The sole source of light for the performance is a single projector, it produces a digital light aesthetic which is in keeping with the sometimes dystopian nature of the work.  It is also used to play digital patterns and distorted facades of urban landscapes across the set, not in the form of precision mapping to individual structural elements but as a broad spectrum that encompasses all.

Control of much of the technical dynamics in the performance is manual and a performatively collaborative act with our dancer. Every small movement of each of the sliding boxes that harass, steer, intimidate and cajole our avatar, here, alone on the stage, is the result of momentary finger touches to control the motors that modify the landscape. Most of the projected lighting effects are rendered in real time and often the result of input to a touchpad. There is a hidden dialogue between our technicians and the dancer, one that is the result of a dynamically changing landscape, of physical motion and sweeping, isolating beams.

That the set is installed in a variety of theatre environments dictates the need for rehearsals at each venue between the three performers, to calibrate and coordinate their actions in each new setting. The fact that much of this semiotic choreography is unknown to the audience does not detract from the dynamism that this interaction surely brings to each new performance of Chipping.

The performance draws to a close with a ballet of urban elements manipulating and migrating our inhabitant in a near-death submissive body language to the edge of the space. Our figure momentarily rises to the peak of the set for the climax but it appears more the final realisation of consumption than it does a moment of conquering the environment.

A review of the performance that took place on May 12th, 2017 at Studio ALTA.

Chipping
Choreography, scene: Anna Konjetzky

Music: Brendan Dougherty
Video: Timm Burkhardt
Scene: Anton Lukas
Technical director: Barbara Westernach
Project coordinator: Laura Martegani
Premiere: 8th October 2014

Ian Biscoe
A visual artist, producer and engineer with degrees in architecture and landscape architecture and a background in systems engineering.  Ian's solo and collaborative practice is at the intersection of technology, visual art and performance. He is currently studying for a PhD in technology and performance at Falmouth University. www.studiobiscoe.com

By: Ian Biscoe
 
 

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