Mexe: Wearable Technology and Capoeira Performance (a Playformance Project)

Symposium:


Presentation Title:

  • Mexe: Wearable Technology and Capoeira Performance (a Playformance Project)

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • As part of the Pan Am Games’ Ignite Ontario program 1), Mexe is a dance performance that blends elements of capoeira, Afro-Brazilian (Maracatu) percussion, contemporary dance and live bio-sensor art. The premise of Mexe is to trace capoeira from to its African roots, to its criminalization in colonial Brazil, and finally to the transnational, multiethnic phenomenon it has become today. The Mexe project is interdisciplinary in nature due to the augmentation of cutting-edge wearable technology and immersive soundscape design to the performance.
    Mexe will take place at a park (Alexander or Trinity Bellwoods) whereby spectators sit around a custom-made capoeira roda and wear headphones to stream a soundscape 2) which is triggered by wireless sensors (gyroscopes, accelerometers) worn by the performers. The spectators will be instructed to bring their smartphones and ear/ headphones and visit a custom microsite, which distorts the live ambient sound gathered by the phone’s mic and maps it to the motion input of the sensors. An open LAN will be created for the show so attendees won’t have to use up their data to stream the soundscape. Performers will be wearing elegant custom-fitted luminous wire which
    will add to the feeling of “technological liveness” in the show and to the uniqueness of this open-air performative piece 3). The artistic intent of the Mexe project is to drive the
    theatrical narrative through abstract sound design and an experiential serendipity that live bio-sensor art can offer.

    1. The city will be abuzz from the Pan Am Games during July, and the Parapan Games in August. Being part of the Ignite Ontario program, Mexe has access to the Games’
      mascot, Pachi, social media promotion, and top athletes of the Games. Mexe offers a fruitful partnership between SummerWorks and Pan Am Games — a live art event that embodies conceptual performance art, cultural and technological innovation all in one.
    2. the industry term for this type of technical setup is augmented sound or augmented audio. More info on similar software at augmentedaudio.com
    3. to our knowledge a performance, and technical setup like this has never been done before. We hope to produce its inauguration at SummerWorks 2015.

    Artistic Practice
    Mexe is a direct emanation of Maziar’s internationally-acclaimed artistic practice, Playformance, which strives to situate the human body as the serendipitous actuator of conceptual audiovisual content to offer a live, undirected and visceral experience for the performer as well as for the audience. Maziar is motivated by the creative potential that amplifying technologies can introduce to performance art, and how this synthesis can inform and challenge the traditional principles of set design, lighting, choreography and human computer interaction (HCI).
    Playformance offers a space for performance artists to rethink their craft in unexpected ways through the incorporation of interactive technology. Live movements on stage serve as the kinetic form of creative articulation, and are digitally translated to trigger multimedia in real-time such as sound effects, projected motion graphics, cueing of media assets and stage lights. Playformance holds the potential to convey the user’s inner thoughts and/or motives, with technology as an enabler to metaphorically communicate that which the physical body cannot.
    Viewable on Playformance.ca, Maziar has produced 5 original technologically-mediated performances, (Blendism, Havabazi Tuno, Havabazi Avesta, Dissolving Self and Jadoo Banoo) which have sparked international attention from leading think tanks and curators in electronic art and new media production, namely The Creator’s Project (2015), SIGGRAPH (Anaheim, 2013), International Symposium on Electronic Art: The Fridge Gallery (Dubai, ISEA2014) and (Abu Dhabi, ISEA2014).

    Production Process
    Under the artistic direction of Maziar Ghaderi, the cultural and performative process will be led by our committed project partner, Axe Capoeira Toronto (the largest and most successful capoeira school in Toronto). Simultaneously, the technical process will also be led by Maziar Ghaderi, who will be responsible for hiring computer programmers, costume artists, sound artists, and motion design artists to the production of the Mexe project.
    The development of this augmentative technology will start with the research and development of a custom microprocessor embedded with sensors (namely accelerometers and gyroscopes). User-testing will be conducted to determined the form factor (position and orientation of technology on the body) as it relates to the unique kinetic nature of performative capoeira. The aesthetic and functional form of the garment used to fasten the technology to the performer’s body will also be prototyped and designed by Maziar Ghaderi and his curated team of media artists and wearable technologists. Maziar’s hands-on experience harnessed from his artistic practice, Playformance, in addition to the handpicked production team of Mexe will ensure the successful design and production of the appropriate augmentative technology required for this project.

    Themes:
    Cultural Intangibles
    Mexe was in part inspired by UNESCO’s “Global Strategy” which aims to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, such as dance traditions in Latin American and the Caribbean, from extinction. Intangible cultural practices such as capoeira (which was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in November 2014) can only be kept alive through active implementation and dissemination.
    Virtual Extension
    The augmentation of live performance art with technology can open new methods of self-expression for the performance artist. Interactive technology acts as an amplified extension of the artist, in the same way that a megaphone increases the volume of a speaker or an elaborate costume adds to a performer’s stage persona. Literary scholar and new media critic Marie-Laure Ryan traces the Latin root of the word virtuality to virtualis, meaning the potential: “The virtual is not what is deprived of existence, but that which possesses the potential, or force of developing into actual existence” (Cyberspace, Virtuality and the Text, p. 88).
    Cultural Concerns
    Maziar is a fluent Spanish and Portuguese speaker, an amateur capoeira practitioner, and well-connected to the Brazilian community in Toronto. In collaboration with Axe Capoeira Toronto, Maziar is the ideal artistic director to realize this project. Award winning, Axe Capoeira Toronto is Toronto’s chapter of the global Axe Capoeira academic community, which is found in 29 countries with over 20,000 members. Axe Capoeira Toronto specializes in the training of capoeira and the dissemination of various components of Afro-Brazilian culture. The historical trajectory of capoeira will be researched through the consultation of a historian with expertise in the region and time period. Mexe aims to bring together diverse groups of Canadians through the synthesis of this popular cultural practice and energetic spectacle that is capoeira with the unprecedented incorporation of custom cutting-edge media technologies to produce an innovative staged artwork suitable for the whole family.

    The goals of Mexe are:
    Innovational: Mexe aims to underline the fruits of Ontario’s efforts (namely OCADU’s Social Body Lab) in research and development in emerging technologies, which will be a driving creative element in the performance series. Mexe aims to proof the validity of the artistic applications of wearable technologies through performance art and theatre. Cultural: Mexe’s audience development and marketing strategy is aimed to bring together diverse groups of Canadians to immerse into the popular cultural practice and energetic spectacle that is capoeira.
    My artistic practice, entitled Playformance is the synthesis of performance art, interactive technology and multimedia design. I strive to situate the human body as the serendipitous actuator of audiovisual content in order to create a live, undirected and visceral experience for the performer as well as for the audience.
    The artistic intent of Playformance is to offer the space for performance artists to rethink their craft in unexpected ways through the incorporation of interactive technology. Live movements on-stage serve as the kinetic form of creative articulation, and are digitally translated to trigger multimedia in real-time (sound effects, projected motion graphics, cueing of media assets, stage lights), which holds the potential to metaphorically convey the user’s inner thoughts and/or motives.
    Interactive technology is framed as an extension of the self with the potential to amplify creative expression, in the same way that a megaphone increases the volume of a speaker or an elaborate costume adds to a performer’s stage persona. Literary scholar and new media critic Marie-Laure Ryan traces the Latin root of the word virtuality to virtualis, meaning the potential: “The virtual is not what is deprived of existence, but that which possesses the potential, or force of developing into actual existence” (Cyberspace, Virtuality and the Text, p. 88).
    I am motivated by the creative potential that amplifying technologies can introduce to performance art, and how this synthesis can inform principles of set design, lighting, and choreography. Playformance.ca

    Video: Playformance Demo Reel ISEA2014 Show
    SIGGRAPH 2013 presentation (PP)


Video:


Related Links:

Category: