Strange Earth

Interactive Dance Installation
National Art Studio (Seoul)


Created and performed by 
Jeremy Neideck
Interactive media design:
Park Jong Hyon

Produced in collaboration with Red Moon Rising, Aphids, The Australia-Korea Foundation, The National Art Studio Changdong, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea.

PROGRAM NOTES

I am one-third of contemporary dance company Red Moon Rising. My collaborators Ellen Rijs and Polly Sara, and I presented The Oak’s Bride, a work of butoh dance theatre at the 2010 Next Wave Festival. This work was based on the text of Gaudete, a poetic novel, written by English author Ted Hughes and originally intended as a film scenario. Gaudete tells the story of a man who is abducted to the underworld where his soul is divided in two. This duplicate is then unleashed and wreaks havoc amongst the people living in the ‘real’ world, taking advantage of the women of the village, and setting himself on a path of destruction that leads ultimately to the man’s ‘cancellation by the powers of both worlds’.

Strange Earth is an initial sketch of my response to Gaudete, created in 2009 at the National Art Studio, Seoul in partnership with Aphids, the Australia-Korea Foundation and The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea. It takes the form of an interactive performance installation fusing images from the text with my experience of life in Korea

I am interested in pursuing ways to present performance in non-traditional theatre spaces, and in modes that encourage the audience to interact with the work. As a performer, I am used to dealing with the temporal nature of performance. For this project however, I have found myself working within the framework of a visual arts institution, which has encouraged me to find ways to prolong the performative act. Rather than use ‘static’ video and photography, I have collaborated with Seoul-based interactive installation artist, Park Jong Hyon, who has programmed technology that allows filmic material to be triggered remotely using infrared sensors.

Therefore, I created this work using the concept of a ‘living space’. I have been working on ways to invite the viewer into the performance, without the presence of a physical performer.

During the day, Strange Earth is presented as an installation, with the audience free to roam the studio space, exploring certain artifacts of the performance. The audience has the opportunity to contribute to the soundscape, by selecting and playing a range of cassette tapes on portable players. As the audience member passes a pool of glucose in the middle of the floor, the scene changes from that of gently rippling water, to visions of a shadowy, black-painted dancer, which seems to respond to their presence, while simultaneously responding to images from Hughes’ text. The viewer is confronted by a reflection of themselves distorted through the lens of butoh, a dance form that is grotesque, primal, confronting and beautiful.

My intention was to create the impression of an ‘after-image’, similar to an accidental glance at the sun which blinking cannot erase. A space with the potential for a performative act, where the viewer is not certain if they have arrived too early, or too late.

In the evening, this exchange between the viewer and the space is mediated by the performer, who constructs the world as he sees it, allowing the audience to interact with both the environment, and the live body.

Jeremy Neideck