The Alices
A Sculptural Opera in One Act

The Arts Club of Chicago
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Produced by Ellen Sandor and partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency
A piece by Claudia Hart  With live electronic and music erformance by Edmund Campion
Featuring Mikey McParlane with Cuisine by Michele Thursz / Seek Art
Costumes by Vincent Tiley
Sound Mix by Cassandra Jackson

The Alices: Jane Jerardi, Mikey McParlane, Natalia Nicole Nicholson, Yaloopop, Christin Shallenberg and Amanda Van Valkenberg

The Alices is an installation piece, yet at the same time it is an opera. Inspired by Lewis Carroll's classical children's tale Alice In Wonderland, it has been reimagined here as a living painting - what was once called a tableau vivant - which has at its center two works of art that both use and also comment upon the culture of high technology.

The first of these objects are the Nue Morte, a special porcelain dish using custom-designed augmented reality software that allows a viewer to see a perversely erotic illusion: a naked woman lying across one's food. Viewed through an clickable application easily uploaded from the Internet and installed on a smart phone, the tossing and turning body of the Nue Morte evokes early Surrealist cinema: a beautiful nude torso overrun by "artificially intelligent" cockroaches to create an intentionally paradoxical contradiction in terms of life and of death.

The second work is a piece of conceptual software created by designer Alon Zouartez. Zouartez's Spinabook ware takes an original text and processes it by using a legal form of plagiarism, substituting words with their synonyms to create a legitimate but unethical clone.

In The Alices, I spun a short excerpt of Lewis Carroll's original Alice in Wonderland, to create a text that slowly devolves as it is repetitively cloned. After six variations, the excerpt comes to mean its opposite - a succinct demonstration of the perversion of truth that occurs when things "go viral" on our public media.

Composer Edmund Campion, co-director of the Center for New Music and Technology at U.C. Berkeley, has composed a special score for the spun Alices. Campion performed his work on the Chicago Arts' Club Steinway along with live vocalizations by Mikey McParlane, countertenor and contemporary performance artist, using custom feedback audio-software designed by Campion.

The music was conceived of as a score for a living "performance sculpture" featuring six cloned Alices consuming a fantastic illusory meal: the Nue Morte which has all been integrated into a cycling choreography. My Alices dance was inspired by "Miss Manners" style instructional videos that I found on line, here transformed into a mechanical series of robotic movements. The Nue Morte is visible through the Nue Morte custom app, opened on all of the Alices' smart phones, displayed as part of the mis-en-scene.

Nue Morte dishes were designed in collaboration with augmented designer Geoffrey Alan Rhodes and produced by Michele Thursz / SEEK Art.

All photographies by Sophie Barrett-Kahn