The Alices Walking, 2014
A Sculptural Opera and Fashion Show
Created in collaboration with performer,
composer, and sound designer Edmund Campion
Mashing augmented reality, sculpture, cocktails and opera, The Alices (Walking) is an experimental fashion show about spectacle, looking and looking at others looking. It portrays a culture so addicted to the devices of high technology that it can only bear a world that is filtered through them.
Using the words of Lewis Carroll's 1865 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a starting point, Hart expands the notion of madness to a live computational network. Steeped in the clichés of data-driven, punk and Romantic aesthetics, the live production is interactive and features five performers wearing "website dresses".
Crafted from patterned fabrics designed by Hart, the dresses are embedded with visual content that can be read with a networked camera. During the performance, select audience members are invited to launch an augmented-reality application on phones and tablets, which recognize the inscribed patterns. "While the performance investigates breakdowns between the natural and the technological, it is also conceived as a means to create new experiences of human-computer interaction," says Hart.
The Alices (Walking), crafts an Alice for our time with characters clothed in a cyborgian identity, one welded to the realm of smartphone devices. It is a system vulnerable to glitches and decay, as Carroll's original narrative is spun into text graphics that evoke pop-up banner ads and trashy web design. The novel's text evolves into animations of strobing concrete poetry. Phrases from the novel also form the basis for a libretto, sung and recorded by Claudia Hart with countertenor vocalist Mikey McParlane.
Edmund Campion's score for the performance treats and adapts this libretto electronically. As each Alice on the runway is plugged into the system, a new code tree is activated. Tags and patterns of animated signage change, signaling the spaces of cloning, duplication, mutation and transformation. Staging an irrational cycle of haptic communication between the human and the machine, Hart's production ultimately channels death, rebirth, and an ambivalent desire for eternal life.
This performance of The Alices (Walking) is part of a larger series of augmented reality sculptures, fabrics and live multimedia events by Claudia Hart. Constantly evolving, this body of work is also the subject of her third solo exhibition at bitforms gallery, presented May 3, 2014, in New York. The Alices Walking was created summer 2013 - spring 2014, when Hart was an Honorary Fellow at the Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology in Chelsea, NY. It premiered on March 8, 2014 and was a co-production of Eyebeam and The Moving Image Art Fair, with support from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Center For New Music and Audio Technology at the University of California, Berkeley. The event was sponsored by KOREA SOJU HWAYO, INC. and Yamaha Pianos.
The Alices (Walking) were performed by Nayland Blake, Claudia Hart, Joon Lee, Julie Robinson, Adrian Saich. Music, sound, narration, custom interactive software, created and performed by Edmund Campion
Onstage audience: Doo-eun Choi, Kathleen Flood, Carla Gannis, Holly Hager Jane Harris, Mostafa Heddaya, Tiffany Holmes, Tom McGlynn, Jean Marie Offenbacher, Justin Petropoulos, Christopher Phillips, Ellen Sandor, Susan Silas, Elissa Tenny,
The Alices Walking introduced Alice's Website Dresses, a collection of 5 sculptural wearables featuring a custom augmented-reality application by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes using poetic text animations created by Claudia Hart. The libretto evolved from Lewis Carroll's original Alice in Wonderland by using the Spinabook software designed by Alon Zouartez (http://spinabook.com/).
Software fabric tags were created by Hart with Costumes designed by Hart with Julie Robinson who engineered and fabricated them with assistance from Colleen Chen and Trudie Reif.
The Alices Walking, A film by Artur Ratton, 2014, 15 minutes-13 seconds. Directed by Artur Ratton; Produced by Genoa Mungin, Cameras: Artur Ratton, Rui Hu, Lilka Hara; Editor: Artur Ratton; Special thanks: Eyebeam Center for Art + Technology, Pixel Playground. Filmed at Eyebeam, March 8, 2014 where it was presented as part of the Moving Image Art Fair.
Julie Robinson, aka Alice #4, as viewed through the Alices App; photo: Sophie Kahn; animated text: Claudia Hart written by Lewis Carroll and manipulated by Spinabook software by Alon Zouartez