Monday, April 20, 2009

Locus Solus

Locus Solus is a intermedia project exploring the idea of science in relation to accounts of contemporary and historical utopic imagination. This performance based installation project draws on the novel Locus Solus ('Solitary or Unique Place', 1914) by Raymond Roussel (1877-1933), a proto-Surrealist text in which a scientist named Martial Canterel fits out luxurious laboratories in a villa near Paris. Each room demonstrates one of the ingenious inventions of his encyclopaedic mind.
The production appeals to the temporal sense of the viewer, while it deploys a model based on an analogy between Canterel's laboratories and a museum. The luxurious laboratories with the ingenious inventions represent the gallery where visual artists will exhibit their work. Canterel offers an insight into the work of visual artists.
These art works have in common an approach to site that is actual and imaginary, a play between fact and fiction. Site may be an existing location, an activity, or a small found object. Acoustic and electric sounds audible in the installation, will be produced by the performers and viewers interacting with the architectural spaces (reflective cylindrical mirrors). Surveillance cameras will transmit these different spaces and activities. During the sound system/architecture interface, the viewers will feel as if they are in different spaces of Locus Solus.
By investigating the potentials generated through interactive technologies of digital and immersive media, the project aims to generate new understandings of and research into the impact and significance of perception in multiple sensory registers (auditory, visual, tactile), as well as the importance of non-verbal communication.
The project will develop an approach to spatial use, through the application of augmented reality systems for spatial visualisation. Augmented reality overlays virtual objects over the real space. Parallel to this, the project will integrate a contemporary approach to anamorphic art; artists will experiment with the use of the geometry of perspective.

Roussel was preoccupied with the prefabrication of language, with the “readymade” and artifactual quality of words and his narrative was interrupted by parenthetical thought. His work has intrigued the Surrealists, Duchamp, Michel Foucault, John Ashbery, Cocteau and writers of the nouveau roman like Alain Robbe-Grillet who said that “the clarity and transparency of his works, exclude the existence of other worlds behind things and yet we discover that we can't get out of this world. Everything is at a standstill, everything is always happening all over again.”
Roussel explored the boundaries and possibilities of language and representation in the form of “trompe-l'oeil” and of the labyrinth, while his works unleashed cascades of mirrors and strange machines. His text have seldom been presented in a theatrical context, however, he has been rediscovered and is now considered an ancestor of much experimental writing being done today in Europe and America.
The Rousselian cosmos and the notion of “trompe l'oeil” and of “mise en abyme” represents a dynamic fusion, where we can research on the relationship of the image, the object, the sound and the word. Moreover, the group has a core interest in the contrasting methods used in theatre practice and in curatorial practices in the visual arts, as well as the juncture where the two collide and possibly make a new field altogether. Therefore, research will focus on the relationships between 'matrixed' and 'open-matrixed' compositional methods.

The production seeks to present issues involving private (solitary) and public space, hence it will deal with space, in terms of its physical transformation, through the movement of both the spectators and the performers. The procedural acoustic and visual installations, constructed by the architects, the visual artists and the scenographers will remain "in situ," and will only be transformed during the interaction with the performers for the actual performance.
Parallel to this, researchers from the School of Architecture, University of Patras, will investigate points of intersection (connections, linkages, overlaps) between the project and the public domain of the City.
The dramaturgy will draw on the analogy between text, image and sound, in order to present an open work of literary allusions and echoes, narrative episodes and descriptive scenes, 'verbal found' objects, shifting aesthetic styles and registers.
The production will be the locus for dynamic interactions between the body and material objects (including machines and technological devices) inside and outside, living and anti-organic, and for the problematization and blurring of these distinctions. Four performers and four dancers will embody eight figures within eight "Tableaux Vivants,” as John Ashbery described
A prominent scientist and inventor, Martial Canterel, has invited a group of colleagues to visit the park of his country estate, Locus Solus. As the group tours the estate, Canterel shows them inventions of ever-increasing complexity and strangeness. Again, exposition is invariably followed by explanation, the cold hysteria of the former giving way to the innumerable ramifications of the latter. After an aerial pile driver which is constructing a mosaic of teeth and a huge glass diamond filled with water in which float a dancing girl, a hairless cat, and the preserved head of Danton, we come to the central and longest passage: a description of eight curious tableaux vivants taking place inside an enormous glass cage. We learn that the actors are actually dead people whom Canterel has revived with 'resurrectine,' a fluid of his invention which if injected into a fresh corpse causes it continually to act out the most important incident of its life. " Foucault, Death & The Labyrinth, epilogue John Ashbery"

Locus Solus

These moving tableaux (as imagined by Roussel), their poetic facets and incarnations of flânerie (drifting) will be transposed beyond the empirical spaces of the city. The processual, as a form and these constructed textual, visual and aural environments, will be the framework for thinking about the relationships between “private-solitary” and “public” space.

Locus Solus is a two year project will be devised during a period of five months and will be presented, as a processual project (based on the structure of process art) in art galleries theatrical spaces, conferences, academic research centres: Shunt Vaults, London bridge, The museum of contemporary art in Novi Sad, The Fourth International Conference on the Arts in Society, which will be held in Venice, Italy, 29-31 July 2009, in conjunction with the Venice Biennale. At the 10th Conference of Utopian Studies Society, University of Porto, July, 2009. At the PSi conference Misperformance : Misfiring, Misfitting, Misreading will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, June 24 – 28 2009 and will be part of London European Festival and other venues.

Conceived and directed by Sozita Goudouna

Contributors : Kostas Moschos (IEMA), The Erasers, Alexander Mistriotis, Margarita Bofiliou, Christina Sgouromiti, Kostis Velonis, Polyxeni Aklidi, Anna Elefanti, Ieronimos Kaletsanos, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Melia Kreiling, Nefeli Skarmea, Kostis Alivizatos, Lina Dima, Zoe Langi, Yorgis Noukakis, Dimitra Stamatiou, Panos Kouros, Christina Penna, Dejan Garbos, Srdjan Segan, Ladislav Zajac,Eszter Jagica, Alexandra Waierstall, Mischa Twitchin, Julieta Kindermann

Shunt Vaults, 24 april-3 May, London
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