The COIL and Under the Radar Fests Meet Multimedia, 2012-Style

Up to our neck in tech

Some theater artists believe there's a danger inherent in confronting an audience with these mediated images uncritically. Mariano Pensotti, author of El pasado es un animal grotesco, which uses minimal tech, and Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande, creators of Alexis. A Greek Tragedy, which uses video, both at UTR, warn against technology used only, in the words of Nicolò and Casagrande, "for its aesthetic effect, a sort of decoration of the scene."

Rabih Mroué, a Lebanese performance artist with two shows in the COIL Festival, resists this decoration. He uses deliberately outmoded technology—VHS tapes and players—to help audiences question "the use of images today, how we deal with images, how we can have doubts about them, how we can understand them." Mroué says that in a culture like ours so overrun with images, we require art "to desacralize them and to deconstruct them in order to continue our lives."

Newyorkland: Cops + film
William Cusick
Newyorkland: Cops + film

However these artists choose to approach new technologies—decoratively/critically, high-tech/low-tech, distracting/enhancing—they know that any device they use always functions in tension and in concert with the core of theater, the live bodies of the performers. As Scheib says of his show, "The most complex technology onstage are the actors."

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