Mov­ing peo­ple

ARCOS

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - — Jennifer Levin

Though cell­phones have been in com­mon use for two decades, eti­quette still dic­tates that we turn them off dur­ing the­atri­cal per­for­mances. For­get­ting to si­lence a ringer will prob­a­bly get you yelled at from the stage; it would be nearly un­con­scionable for a cul­tured per­son to turn on his smart­phone and start tweet­ing dur­ing a play. Eliot Gray Fisher, a di­rec­tor of the trans­me­dia dance-per­for­mance com­pany ARCOS, is cog­nizant of this re­al­ity, but he wants to look at the sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ently, with an eye to­ward pos­si­bil­i­ties. Artists have al­ways had to ac­cept and in­te­grate new tech­nolo­gies, he said. “At one point in the per­form­ing arts, elec­tric­ity was a new tech­nol­ogy. We don’t need to be afraid to ex­plore what might help us tell a story.”

ARCOS was founded in Santa Fe, but in re­cent years the di­rec­tors — Erica Gion­friddo, Cur­tis Uh­le­mann, and Fisher — moved the op­er­a­tion to Austin. The com­pany trav­eled to Ed­in­burgh for the Fringe Fes­ti­val, where it re­ceived a Spirit of the Fringe award in 2014 for The War­riors: A Love Story, which com­bines dance, nar­ra­tive, history, and mul­ti­me­dia. The com­pany’s new project, Do­main, is a mul­ti­plat­form, multi-lo­ca­tion, trans­me­dia per­for­mance that be­gins in Austin on Fri­day, June 10, and con­tin­ues at the Cur­rents Fes­ti­val be­gin­ning Thurs­day, June 16, with a seg­ment en­ti­tled “El­egy.” Do­main then goes on to Kan­sas City, Mis­souri, in July, and Billings, Mon­tana, in Au­gust. Live per­for­mances are only one as­pect of the project. Per­for­mances are also ac­ces­si­ble through www.ar­cos­dance.com and on pop­u­lar smart­phone apps like Face­book and YouTube. The ba­sic nar­ra­tive arc, Fisher ex­plained, is about a young woman who wakes up in the wilder­ness with no mem­ory and then wan­ders into civ­i­liza­tion to try to piece to­gether her iden­tity.

“It’s sur­re­al­ist and dream­like at first, and it’s kind of in the mystery genre,” he said. “But the idea is that you can ex­pe­ri­ence a story that will be sat­is­fy­ing and stand-alone in its own way and also open up some ques­tions and pro­vide clues that view­ers can fol­low af­ter we leave Santa Fe, over the next few months, on­line.”

“El­egy” uti­lizes 360-de­gree video, a rel­a­tively new tech­nol­ogy that al­lows a viewer to move the point of view around in a video — up to the ceil­ing, down to the floor, and left or right all the way around in a cir­cle. It puts the viewer in the cen­ter of the ac­tion, sort of a re­verse theater-in-the-round. “It’s a new medium in which to fig­ure out how to di­rect at­ten­tion,” Fisher said, “which is one of the ma­jor tasks of a dancer or per­form­ing artist, to guide the viewer through some sort of ex­pe­ri­ence.”

When au­di­ence mem­bers ar­rive at the Rai­l­yard Plaza, they will be in­structed through sig­nage how to use their smart­phones to gain ac­cess to me­dia con­tent, as well as where the next pieces of “El­egy” take place around Santa Fe. “This per­for­mance isn’t in a theater on a cer­tain night, re­peated for the next sev­eral nights. This per­for­mance takes us out into the world in a way that en­cour­ages tech­nol­ogy rather than dis­cour­ages it,” Fisher said. “Maybe we can give an ex­pe­ri­ence like noth­ing peo­ple have had be­fore and re­ally re-con­tex­tu­al­ize what a the­atri­cal per­for­mance ex­pe­ri­ence can be.”

ARCOS presents El­egy at 6 p.m. on Thurs­day, June 16, at the Rai­l­yard Plaza. Other per­for­mances take place at var­i­ous times and venues. Visit www.cur­rentsnew­me­dia.org/events/el­egy-arcos-dance for an up-to-date sched­ule.

Top and be­low, ARCOS: im­ages from a per­for­mance of “El­egy” (a seg­ment of Do­main), cour­tesy ARCOS; op­po­site page, top, Yakun Chen: a mo­ment from Nev­erend (Land), 2015, holo­graphic-pro­jec­tion an­i­ma­tion; bot­tom left and right, Matthew Chase-Daniel: Ra­dio­th­ing (de­tail), 2016, 32 ra­dios with speak­ers, wood frame

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