a dance-video-music-laser performance
Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House
January 17-20, 2008
Mortal Engine is a dance-video-music-laser performance using movement and sound responsive projections to portray an ever-shifting, shimmering world in which the limits of the human body are an illusion. Crackling light and staining shadows represent the most perfect or sinister of souls. Kinetic energy fluidly metamorphoses from the human figure into light image, into sound and back again. Choreography is focused on movement of unformed beings in an unfamiliar landscape searching to connect and evolve in a constant state of becoming. Veering between moments of exquisite cosmological perfection and grotesque evolutionary accidents of existence, we are driven forward by the reality of permanent change.
DIRECTION AND CHOREOGRAPHY Gideon Obarzanek
INTERACTIVE SYSTEM DESIGN Frieder Weiss
LASER AND SOUND ARTIST Robin Fox
COMPOSER Ben Frost
COSTUME DESIGNER Paula Levis
LIGHTING DESIGNER Damien Cooper
SET DESIGN Richard Dinnen and Gideon Obarzanek
MULTIMEDIA ENGINEER Nick Roux
*Performing in current tour
Duration: 60 minutes
WARNING this production contains partial nudity, smoke, laser and strobe lighting effects and loud volume audio.
2008 Live Performance Australia Helpmann Awards
Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production - Mortal Engine
Mortal Engine Highlights Footage
A NOTE FROM GIDEON OBARZANEK
As a development from the original solo GLOW, Mortal Engine looks at relationships, connection and disconnection, isolation and togetherness, in a state of continual flux. Conflicts between the self and shadowy other – the other within as well as the other as the other. Duets are seen as both couples and as singular selves struggling to escape inner darkness – mortality, sexuality, desire.
Soft, expressive sounds are dangerously tensioned between abrasive noise disturbances in Ben Frost’s music. At times delicate beauty can emerge from intense sonic harshness while seductive tones threaten to disintegrate into dark clouds of rumbling distortion
Robin Fox’s laser and video images have a brutal and direct relationship to the sound they illustrate and when experienced exclusively, their connection with dance is not immediately apparent. When fed information of the dancers’ movements however, they become a powerful extension to the performers’ bodies and their own capacity for explosive brute force or controlled subtlety.
Created by a team of individual artists, the aesthetic/kinetic world of Mortal Engine is pulled together through the computer engineering of Frieder Weiss. As an engineer he often claims that he has no aesthetic position on the productions he is involved with, however his unique software distinguishes all his work in a very powerful way. Frieder’s interactive systems make it possible for instruments and bodies that generate light, video, sound and movement to all share a common language and respond to each other in real time. Mortal Engine has no pre-rendered video, light or laser images. Similarly the music mix is open allowing various sounds to be completely generated from movement data. In addition, pre-composed phrases are triggered by the dancers’ motion or by the operator in relation to where the performers are in any given sequence. This essentially means that there are no fixed timelines and the production flexes according to the rhythm of the performers. While the scenes are always in the same order, the work is truly live every night, not completely predictable and ever changing.
I would like to thank Reka Szabo and The Symptoms who I worked with in Budapest for a short but intense period of time. In teaching a workshop involving similar technology at the beginning of their rehearsal period for Nothing There, shared themes emerged and also differences that helped me clarify my ideas and directions for Mortal Engine. Any possible similarity with elements of our work is no coincidence.
All Chunky Move productions demand great effort from a large group of people and Mortal Engine is no exception. I am very fortunate to be able to create work with an excellent producing, technical and artistic team within the company and outside. It would not be possible to achieve these works without their great personal initiative and generous collaborative spirit.
Mortal Engine wins Honours at Prix Ars Electronica
Chunky Move's Mortal Engine was the recipient of an "Honourable Mention - Hybrid Art" in the Prix Ars Electronica.
The Prix Ars Electronica is widely regarded as the most important international award for creativity and pioneering spirit in the field of digital media. It serves as an interdisciplinary platform for everyone who uses the computer as a universal medium for implementing and designing their creative projects at the interface of art, technology and society.
Mortal Engine was one of 97 award winners, selected from the 3017 entries received from 68 countries in 2009.