Written by Ruta Kruliauskaite on June 27, 2016, 7:40pm
What were your favorite moments at ITP Camp so far? My favorite moment so far was the sound and movement workshop. I got to co-lead that with a group of people and it was nice because it had different sections -- there were some physical warm-ups in the beginning, there was a moment with tubes later. I got to lead a section on sound composition using found sounds that are in your environment and creating music or a soundscape out of it. That was a lot of fun because it was a hodgepodge of different things and then after that we were just jamming on different devices so it was pretty cool.
What’s your latest passion? I would say virtual reality. I wasn’t expecting that it would be as fascinating but it’s really interesting because it’s like cracking a puzzle on how to tell a story with it. There are still so many different things that you could try out and there’s no one solid way to do it, there’s not like theories and books on it, it’s all still just one giant mystery so it just leaves a lot of room to play around and make mistakes and put new things together. It’s pretty exciting.
Can you explain a bit more on cyborg theatre? The term “cyborg theatre” was coined by Jennifer Parker-Starbuck. It’s what I believe the synthesis of art and technology on stage. To me the definition of a ‘cyborg’ can be manifested physically where you have the physical unity of technology with the human body, with human senses and behaviors leading the technology rather than the other way around. The other thing about cyborg theory that I find interesting is that it’s also of the mind. So thinking in a technological sense as well, which a lot of us do now because we have smart phones, we play on our computers all day. We have our digital calendars. So the thing about the technology that’s being used, whether that’s thinking technologically and artistically or actually creating something physical is that it doesn’t have an identity. We prescribe it an identity. It’s not defined by race, it’s not defined by gender, it’s not defined by social status or anything. It can be whatever we want it to be, but it can also be none of the above. So how do you combine that with the human body and challenge what it is to be a person of color, or challenge what it is to be a working class person. I feel that -- I don’t want to say it would help us transcend because we still have those conditions in everyday life -- but it would allow us to think about the future in different ways. Like, how we can construct a future as we imagine it. And one of those ways is to embrace that unity of tech and people.
What are the additional benefits of adding more technology for the spectator as well as the artist compared to the traditional theatre? I think it’s something that we use everyday and it’s already in our vocabulary. So just like we have lights on stage or we have costumes on stage, there’s a certain understanding -- certain costumes mean certain positions or certain conditions people that have. Costumes let us know a lot about a person. Lights -- we use lights to determine mood. You know, the way that lighting is affects the mood of a person. Technology is something that we do use everyday as well. Again, we use smartphones, we use cell phones, we use computers but also, you know, there’s sensors, there’s microcontrollers, there’s costumes with lights, wearable technology, things that read your biological data. Those are things that are part of our life and because they’re part of our life, like the other elements that we’ve added into theatre, we should also bring that on stage and see what new ways we can look at that with. It is something that we engage with everyday. At the end of the day, performance is about the actor and the spectator and nothing else is needed; the costumes, the lights, the sound, the scenery -- all of those are added things because those are things that we see in our world that we try to bring on stage to either recreate the world that we see around us or use those elements of the world to help us understand new things. So just like all of those things are not necessarily needed in the theatre but we have them, technology should also join and we’ll see what happens.
What is one thing that you cannot live without? My mom. It sucks because we’re all getting older but...my mom. She’s always been really supportive and really inspiring and she’s one of those parents that supports me doing art when I was the one pushing back -- I had not wanted to embrace the arts -- but she, you know, was like “go for it.” She encouraged me. When I also started figuring out what kind of tech stuff I loved in performance, and my mom knew I grew up playing video games and online MMOs, so she also encouraged me to embrace that. She’s the one person that doesn’t find the way I want to synthesize them weird at all. Being in graduate school, she’s been really supportive. I wouldn’t be in it or in anything I am without her love and support. So she’s definitely the one.
Explain to a five-year old in one sentence…
Physical computing… Physical computing is like taking all of the wonders of Times Square or Disney or Disney magic and shrinking it down to people size.
Laser cutter… It’s like taking a lightsaber and making cute little designs.
Any advice to future campers? Have an idea of what you want to do but also be free and explore. I came in here with one intention and through a series of events inside and outside of camp I’m now leaving with new things that I want to learn and use and that I’m also just going for. So I invite you to just experiment, play around: you never know what happens.
Watch video for more responses from Espii: https://vimeo.com/172489609