Becoming animal, talk to me, MOMA
Life-like attributes engage us in novel communication enabling active observation, evolving conversational forms of systemic play. Participants are performers co-evolving a process of becoming.
Becoming Animal is an interactive performance piece that was featured in the Museum of Modern Arts’ Talk to Me exhibition curated by Paola Antonelli. The project was originally performed for the experimental sonic performance festival, Faster than Sound. The performance was installed as the entry to the festival, housed in the K9 building of Bentwaters Military Air Base in Suffolk, England. The project explores the story of the mythical three-headed beast Kerberos, guardian of the underworld. The objective of the piece was to create an environment of performance through collective participation. Each participant’s presence stimulates the three heads of the Kerberos triggering behaviour-based interactions and exchanges. Interactions are expressed through sounds, facial expressions and general activity of the Kerberos. The continued dialogue between users and the system demonstrates emotive exchanges that exhibit love, anger and boredom.
The system was developed to exhibit life-like responses to enable playful interactions between participants and the back projection heads. The project became an experiment in communication based on the human tendency to project life into forms that exhibit complex and dynamic behaviour. The tendencies articulated in the seminal work of Valentino Braitenberg’s Vehicles and William Grey Walter’s Tortoises.
Beyond passive observation found in traditional art viewing contexts, the system would only actively participate through dynamic patterns of stimulus. Over two hundred fifty dog masks were created with embedded led lights placed at the forehead of each mask. Beyond recognition the masks allowed participants to behave in a playful manner. Participants became performers in a theatrical systemic play that exhibited collective playfulness that evolve and Become Animal.
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