3xperimentia: Live Cut
Felicity Arts @ Ron Radford Auditorium (Art Gallery)
9:30pm, Wed 24 Feb 2010
3xperimentia was the finale of last year’s assault, and director/choreographer Amanda Phillips contacted me after the event. I always felt a bit guilty that this was the final show I saw; I was most definitely suffering from Fringe burnout, and I never really felt like I gave the show the attention it deserved. Amanda offered me a comp to this year’s incarnation of the performance, which I politely declined (I don’t take freebies) on the proviso that I committed to seeing the show – earlier, rather than later. And so, after a quick dash down from the TuxCat (and discovering that I was splattered with some thick syrupy stage-blood goo from Inanimate Eats Rage), I found myself outside the Art Gallery Auditorium – a venue for which, for some reason, I hold a special fondness (which is odd in itself, given that the only performance I’ve seen there was the eugenically-charged A Large Attendance in the Ante Chamber… and a plethora of Festival of Ideas sessions).
I’m surprised to see Kate Skully (from my frustrating Fringe dance darlings Playground) outside the venue; we have a nice chat in the balmy night air as I feebly attempted to mop up the stage blood. The Auditorium is a decent space for 3xperimentia; the silver screen required to support the stereoscopic imagery stands proud at the front of the room, Amanda and partner Alexander Waite Mitchell’s performance rig off to the right. Once again, the audience dons polarised 3D glasses for this performance: Amanda used a large touch-screen interface to assemble various computerised models and pre-recorded footage into a live cinematic experience, Alexander constructed a live musical score that felt a lot like a Philip Glass piece – minus the repetition and boredom, but with an uplifting element to it. Nothing like a Philip Glass score at all, then.
And, unsurprisingly, it was very similar to the show from last year. And that’s not a bad thing; the music’s really quite good, and the virtually concocted visual element is compelling… but also a little remote from the audience. Because, unless you realise that the performance is not actually on the screen, you’re missing half the action.
But I already knew all that going in to tonight’s gig – so I found I spent most of my time watching Amanda and Alexander perform. And that was really interesting to me; there seemed to be a fair bit of interaction between the pair, leading me to believe that there was enough scope in 3xperimentia for a genuinely unique experience as they riff off each other. But when I did check out what they were producing, the 3D effect was as solid as ever (despite the very occasional model overlap)… and this time, I noticed some common thematic elements, such as the constant touching of faces.
After the show, Kate and I chatted again while I waited to speak to Amanda for the first time; and she’s lovely in person, very friendly (though understandably guarded when I started asking a few too many techy questions). I mentioned that the performance felt a lot shorter this year than last (the on-screen timer reported something in the region of 38 minutes); Amanda assured me it was pretty much the same length.
This type of performance still remains exciting to me, because it’s a different medium to the norm. The visual component is still human expression, but with a layer of computer-generated magic inbetween – and that, like the best VJing, can lead to amazingly immersive experiences. 3xperimentia has also been performed in a planetarium; I only wish that my Schedule could have permitted me to have indulged in that experience too. After all, if you’re going to treat your senses to something a little bit out-of-the-ordinary, you may as well go in with all guns blazing.