Humanity: From Survival to Revival is an interactive/participatory cinematic game that merges with a live improvisational performance on the violin and cello. The work depicts the transformation of the dystopian state of humanity to utopianism in both the visual and sonic realms by inviting audience participation as part of the performance. Not only do audiences play the characters in a film-like context, but the collaborative efforts are meant to represent saving humanity through collective transformation, healing, and renewal. This work will culminate in a participatory experimental performance where audiences and live music improvisation synergistically drive the work's visual storytelling framework.
This performance is divided into three movements. The first movement depicts how humanity can survive a crisis through the participatory efforts of audience members. In this movement, audiences will play an interactive survival game. They will be invited to stand in front of the camera installation for a brief moment. When the audience member walks up to the camera, his or her face will be captured and projected onto the screen in the form of a facial outline and the sound will be simultaneously triggered. Each time a person walks in, it will trigger different sonic responses. Survival can relate to varying aspects of the human condition of today; it may involve survival from a trauma, survival from an accident, survival from depression, survival from illness, survival from random gun violence and the senseless mass shootings which are happening frequently today. The first movement is a chaotic, solemn, idiosyncratic sonic maze.
In this movement, audiences can strive to resuscitate human lives and spirits. This will happen in two symbolic gestures. Audience members can either exhale a breath into the microphone, signifying giving CPR to another person to save a life. Audience members also can say positive words into the microphone; speaking a positive word affirms the power of speech, imitating a scenario where people in crisis can lift other people’s spirits to help them stay alive. These gestures further affect the video in an interactive way. When the audiences members blow air or speak into the microphone, their facial outlines will gradually brighten and move fluidly. To this effect, audience participation will have a gamifying aspect, whereby audiences are working together to save and transform humanity through the literal act of helping one another to survive.
While audience participation primarily drives the first movement, in the second movement, the audiences are seated but can still continue to personally engage with the work. The survivors of this game will be able to view their own facial images on the screen (not everyone will “survive,” since this will depend on the efforts of participants). In the second movement, the chaos gradually calms down, and the healing process begins, at which point my violin and cello performance will start and drive the visual and sonic narratives. In the third and final movement, humanity revives and imagines the peak utopian state. Each individual face will transform from an individualized self into a physical state of non-identification. The visual aspect will showcase the metamorphosis by creating a 3-D human sculpture (made with participants faces) via my musical sound. The underlying meaning of the work is loosely inspired by Eastern philosophies. What would be the visual and aural process of an individual transcending an egotistical self to a point of non-identification? Taming our individualized self is difficult in a competitive modern society since rewards are often associated with the development of the “ego.” At first, the narrative of “who I am” is of critical importance; however, as one moves through the progressive, evolutionary process, the participant will ultimately turn into a beacon of light without personal identification. In this final stage, the performance celebrates humanity at its peak utopian state.
Concept, Interaction Design, Music, Video, Performance: Cecilia Suhr
Programming: Martin Ritter