virtual bozo

tony reck: il pixel rosso, and the birds fell from the sky

 And the Birds Fell from the Sky, Il Pixel Rosso

And the Birds Fell from the Sky, Il Pixel Rosso

And the Birds Fell from the Sky, Il Pixel Rosso

I ARRIVE ON TIME AT ARTS HOUSE ONLY TO DISCOVER THAT THIS PERFORMANCE IS AT THE WAREHOUSE. ONCE INSIDE, I FIND I’M LATE FOR AN AUDIENCE WITH THREE CLOWNS. THE CLOWNS ARE CRUDE, MUCH LIKE THE EQUIPMENT THAT AN USHER HAS ATTACHED TO MY HEAD. YES, THESE DEBAUCHED ESCAPEES FROM A MISFIT’S CIRCUS EXIST NOWHERE ELSE BUT AS PROJECTIONS ON-SCREEN INSIDE A LOW-TECH, VIRTUAL REALITY HEADPIECE.

We’re sitting inside a Jaguar, travelling at night along an obtuse road. A recorded voice demands that I accept an envelope containing a mysterious letter. Made complicit by this acceptance, the clowns and I engage in our road-trip while the recorded voice directs me toward performing certain tasks. Beyond the fabulated interior of the Jaguar, an actual person sits beside me. Disconcerted because my sight has been co-opted by a virtual scenario, I can nullify this performance by not participating. But who can resist the temptation to be jocular with three dickheads wearing face-paint and speaking Spanish while sharing vodka from a filthy bottle? When the recorded voice demands that I look at my virtual hands, I realise they are covered in blood. Of course, my actual hands are clean. But as a man traversing life’s treadmill I have become the fourth clown, and therefore, the biggest dickhead of all.

We’re joined by a fifth clown, but not before a lone jogger is exterminated in a random act of violence. The recorded voice demands I stare out the passenger window. I see in my reflection not a clown but a handsome, yet slightly haunted male face. He stares at me, as I do at my unidentifiable self. Prompted to forget my present location, I nevertheless remember that I have not left The Warehouse. But when illusion is applied metaphorically, as a performance strategy within a technological context, it is difficult not to make conclusions. Actual human presence, once made cyberspatial, is also a revision of human presence. This revision is an amplification, or an augmentation, of what human presence might become once flesh and blood are replaced by mathematical equation. But this low-tech show is economically diminished because its creators wish to make a point. Faustian pacts with utopian technologies are deceitful, if not dangerous. When my road-trip ends and is replaced by a vision of my unidentifiable self standing in an open field (complete with wind on face, a sprinkle of rain and the scent of lavender), the conceptual framework for this show leaps from the technological into the philosophical.

Science, the same discipline that promotes the illusion of cyberspace, never allows us to forget that human presence, as perceived, is itself an illusion. Standing before me, as a play of light upon my optic nerve, my unidentifiable self hands me the talon of a bird that, presumably, has fallen from the sky. Then, like me, he vaporises, and my screen is black. Who are we but atomisations of energy passing through the labyrinth of Quantum Theory? Once outside The Warehouse, a person resembling myself disappears toward the end of the street. Somewhere, a clown flutters an eyelid, and I am gone.

Il Pixel Rosso (UK): And the Birds Fell from the Sky, writer-directors Simon Wilkinson, Sylvia Mercuriali, performers Xelis Del Toro, Sylvia Mercuriali, Simon Wilkinson, Matt Rudkin, Avis Cockbill, Sharon Honour Mission, Lucy Joy, Joe Kenney, Ulysses Black, Lewis Reid, Crystal Dave Reid, cinematographers Joe Murray, Simon Wilkinson, art director, script development Matt Rudkin, audio-visual editors Sylvia Mercuriali, Simon Wilkinson, supported by Brisbane Powerhouse, presented by Arts House, Melbourne, Feb 29-March 18

RealTime issue #108 April-May 2012 pg. 29

© Tony Reck; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

10 April 2012