I’ve just uploaded a set of photos taken at the opening of the playful Tweetakt 2011 exhibition. As you may recall, I was asked to curate an interactive addition to this youth theatre festival. The works I selected are in my opinion all wonderful examples of the way play can lead to performance. Each was set up on the main festival pavilion, in a purpose-built greenhouse, turning it into something like a village of play.
The Hubbub studio is across the street from the square where Tweetakt’s pavilion was located so I had ample opportunity to observe people’s response to the exhibition. It was lovely to see how each got ample playtime and were for the most part instantly understandable and engaging – something often lacking in interactive art.
So we had Funky Forest (Emily Gobeille & Theo Watson) in which children plant trees and divert the flow of a river to make a forest grow. Watching children play with this is lovely. The river responds to their body movements, as do the forest’s animals. The trees grow in shapes mirror the children’s poses.
Watching people punch away at Love Hate Punch (Stella Boess & Stefan Gross) provides a visceral experience due to the booming subsonic bass sounds triggered on each punch and the bright flashes given off by the punching bag. You almost feel sorry for it.
Players of Bandjesland (Monobanda) collaborate to create a continuously changing dance music composition. It is a zillion times more interesting to watch than your average electronic live set as the tools used are old-fashioned cassette tapes placed on a large table. The recording station, which consists of a huge cap that players stick their heads in, adds an extra slightly absurd spectacle.
Hand From Above (Chris O’Shea) wasn’t set up in the aforementioned greenhouses, but was outside of course, on a large screen for all visitors of the square to see. The sheer range of behavior displayed by people as they discovered a large hand was playing with them is dizzying, from timid bemusement, to elaborate performances mainly put on by the smallest of kids.
And finally Sound Chaser (Yuri Suzuki) offset some of the more physical installations with its otherworldly soundscapes emerging from little cars tirelessly racing a track made out of broken records.
The icing on the cake was This happened – Utrecht #10, which took place on the second day of the festival. We were guests of the good old Academy Theatre, where we were given the small cozy room seating 70. An awesome line-up and a thoroughly engaged crowd (we filled each and every seat) made this into a magical night of honest but inspiring stories about how these projects get made, and great dialogue between speakers and audience.1
This was one of my first proper gigs as a curator of interactive work and I must say it has wet my appetite. I am already looking forward to my next chance.