By HAIR (Hollie, Ramona, Annie)
On the end of the second week we had the task to build groups. For this we took a sheet of paper and wrote a question regarding ecologies and the text «The three ecologies» by Félix Guattari, which defines the semester topic, down. We then tried to organize them and based on similar questions the groups were built. One question was «Can new technology face the problems we are facing nowadays?». Next to that we had «natural?» on one sheet, which asked about the definition of nature. If concrete is made of ingredients that originate from nature, can a building be considerate a part of nature? If humans are the children of nature, are cyborgs just the grandkids? But our group found the questions «why does orgasm sound like organism?» was the most amusing and interesting one.
We started off with some brainstorming, because we wanted to open ourselves up again. During the process we still found ourselves discussing a lot about the differences between technology and orgasms. Orgasms being something very human, maybe even a metaphor of primal humanness. Technology on the other hand being the direct opposite. An achievement of humans with which we might try to overcome our irrational flaws. We use technology in our everyday life, merge and become temporary cyborgs. Finally we decided to find more aspects of orgasms and technology.
To gain more insight on the subject, we did more research on works already made on the subject of humanness and technology. There was a performance by Huang Yi where he danced together with a robot. It is interesting how humans apparently automatically search for or even project human elements onto their environment. We automatically assume so see emotional expressions in the robot’s dance, even though it’s just the code that makes it move that way. There are countless examples of movies where technology suddenly becomes human features – a machine that breaks, turns into a monster and attacks the city or a female robot that suddenly becomes sexual and seduces it’s maker. Therefore even if what we see is clearly technical, many things still feels human.
To get back to the keywords organism and orgasm we formed our temporary research question: What is an orgasm without organism? We can use technology for multiple ways of pleasure, but can technology feel pleasure? How would this look like? The idea was finding aspects of primal humanness in technology. There is also this interesting duality between pain and pleasure. For two humans to feel pleasure there is an interaction and hopefully an agreement. Technology needs to be turned on and does not ask questions. It will go on until someone turns it off or it breaks. There is no interaction, no agreement. To explore this subject further we started to collect material in the form of audio, photos and videos about orgasms without organisms. The material should be about technology but embody aspects of orgasms.
We really liked the videos and wanted to work with them. But simply making a video seemed not make the connection between the human bodies and the video. The final presentation should be multimedia, where the body can also be a form of media. Our biggest challenge was to get the audience into that state, where they would interpret our videos as sexual. But audience interaction just for the sake of interaction does not add value and we didn’t want anyone to feel forced. We tested projections with beamer onto the body of us as performance artists. Further we made a quick prototype of a program with progress bar that rose when a key was quickly pressed, as a form of stimulation of technology.
After some tests we had the idea to use two beamers facing opposite walls for the projection-part. The video would switch from side to side with stops where the performance would have a space. The audience would always have to be in motion to follow the performance / installation. After a few tests we were sure, that this was going to be our final set up. For the performance itself we discussed and tried different styles of moving. Dancing seemed to delicate compared to the machines. The movements should be rhythmical and repetitive, just like the movements of the machines. Meeting this criteria as well as not looking too sexual was quite a challenge. In the end we managed a way that suited our idea, the meaning of the project as well as the video installation as a whole.
Description of the final piece
There is a dark room and the word «organism» is projected onto both walls. The letters «n» and «i» are crossed out, so the word reads «orgasm». People are slowly filling the space between the projections, standing around the table in the middle. After a while, a video starts playing on one side of the room. A machine rotates around some sort of metal, making a hissing sound. The video stops and after a second or two a new one starts on the opposite side of the room. The audience turn around and reposition themselves. Another machine is shown, performing repetitive, even stimulating movements on a metal plate. The video stops again. The flash of a cellphone light upon a female performer standing next to a table in the middle of the room. She starts to move slowly. Repetitive, small movements. Then another video starts and the women freezes. The audience keeps moving to follow the happening. More videos of machines follow on alternating walls. They swirl and grind, turn and vibrate, trim, notch, steam, move and rotate. In between the videos the women wakes from her frozen positions. Her movements get faster as the machines start to speed up. She around the table, crawl onto it, bending and twisting. The pace of the piece gets faster, videos keep turning up and disappearing again, keeping the audience in motion. The women now left her table, she shakes and swirls, machine-like, repetitive movements, always freezes when a video starts playing. As the piece gets even faster the videos start to overlap and the women starts to move simultaneous with the videos, the machines projected onto her body. She, quiet in the beginning, is now heavily breathing and visibly exhausted. As the machines continue, she once again bursts into a final state of ecstatic motion and finally collapses onto the table where it all began. Her panting gasp nearly predominates the sound of the machines still speeding up. The image of a short circuit followed by a washing machine covered in foam initiates the ending. Steam blows off a chimney, followed by a washing machine that broke apart, the engine now rolling desperately down to the grassy ground. The room turns black again, the gasping of the women fills the room. After a few seconds a picture of a fan spinning out and eventually stopping appears. You can hear a men speaking unintelligible in the background. Maybe he turned the fan off. Maybe it went out of order.