Virtual Theatres: An Introduction

Virtual Theatres: An Introduction

Virtual Theatres: An Introduction

Virtual Theatres: An Introduction

Synopsis

The first full-length book of its kind to offer an investigation of the interface between theatre, performance and digital arts, Virtual Theatres presents the theatre of the twenty-first century in which everything - even the viewer - can be simulated.In this fascinating volume, Gabriella Giannachi analyzes the aesthetic concerns of current computer-arts practices through discussion of a variety of artists and performers including:* blast Theory* Merce Cunningham* Eduardo Kac* forced entertainment* Lynn Hershman* Jodi Orlan* Guillermo G¿[3]mez-Pe¿¿a* Marcel-l¿¿ Ant¿¿nez Roca* Jeffrey Shaw* Stelarc. Virtual Theatres not only allows for a reinterpretation of what is possible in the world of performance practice, but also demonstrates how 'virtuality' has come to represent a major parameter for our understanding and experience of contemporary art and life.

Excerpt

The etymology of the word 'technology', tekhnē, indicates that technology is also an art, a craft, and shows how profoundly technology and art are linked. Just as art has repeatedly advanced through technology, technology has, via art, acquired aesthetic signification. In the early twentieth century a movement evolved which not only made innovative use of technology in art, but also for the first time gave serious consideration to technology as a form of art. This movement derived from the First World War and was characterised by an obsession with mechanics across all arts, most importantly in Vsevolod Meyerhold's work with biomechanics, which in many ways represented a theatrical attempt to create a meeting-ground for the interplay of biology and technology. Likewise, with Oscar Schlemmer's 'puppets', the body was transformed into a machine through the use of stage costume composed of a mechanised system of parts. Here, dancers pursued precise series of kinematic sequences which followed the design of the costume and the structure of the piece. In Schlemmer's work, 'the body that appears on stage is a body extended through space, a body where costume and scenery merge, where anatomic and spatial geometric forms become a single form of nature and culture' (Palumbo 2000:19, original emphasis). This architectural biomechanical body of the Bauhaus was therefore literally 'extended through space' (ibid.: 16) and in many ways represented a theatrical proto-cyborg. As Sue-Ellen Case points out, this body, wearing geometric designs, and literally extending 'its gestures outward, through poles' resembled the image of the computer mouse as an extension of the arm (Case 1996:94), which transforms today's computer-user into a cyborg.

But Bauhaus was not the only avant-garde movement interested in experimentation with technology. Dada, especially through Francis

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