VIRTUAL WORLD ORCHESTRA
Not many shows can offer live performance, art installation, robotics, bodily mutilation and storming club action in a single night.
So fasten your seatbelts for VIRTUAL WORLD ORCHESTRA, the brainchild of Glasgow-based performance collective NVA. Words: Deirdre Molloy
THE MAVERICKS OF performance like to mix their mediums in Glasgow. Last year was memorable for opera spliced with jungle rhythms in Kenny Davidson‘s The Aretology Onyme. and swordfights tricked up with mini videocams in Elsinore. Robert Lepage‘s hi- tech Hamlet. Now the city is poised to host a digital world party. Virtual ll’orltl Orchestra. a celebration of life on the cusp of the millen- nium and beyond. is upon us.
For three nights. a bevy of robots. Dls. painters and performers will alight in Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket for this multimedia extravaganza. Organised by Glasgow-based performance collective NVA. the event promises to pull technology off its icy cold altar and fuse it. quite literally. with some fundamental human energies.
Those who remember NVA‘s Stormy Waters. the rather chilly outdoor multimedia experience which brought together Internet technology. people and performing cranes on the banks of the River Clyde. will realise that the collective has been down this road before. So will Virtual World Orchestra simply be Stormy Waters indoors? Not if the line-up is anything to go by.
Stelarc. in Scotland for the first time. is the synergistic urge incarnate. The Cyprus-born Australian artist is famed for suspending himself from steel hooks for tip to 32 minutes and turning his stomach into a public gallery by lowering a surgical camera down his throat. Now he is perfecting a new technique of bodily
20 THE usr 4—17Apt 1997'
manipulation whereby his brain gives way to the whim of strangers who control his actions via electronic impulses triggered on the Internet and fed to pads attached to his mttscles.
‘Stelarc is a complete one—off.‘ says 34-- year—old Angus l‘arqtihar. the prime mover behind NVA’s pioneering performance e\ents. ‘llis polemic is that the body is now obsolete on an evolutionary level and the only way forward is through technological mutation. He has lectured to NASA. so it’s serious stuff. But taken on a simple level. his performance looks so incredible that you don’t need to be grounded in his theories.‘
And what degree of \‘oltage are we talking about'.’ ‘lt's strong btit not life-threatening.‘ Farquhar continues. ‘lle’s not a masochist I know that for a fact ~ btit he has quite a high tolerance of pain. I think with some people that‘s a genetic thing.‘
(ierman electronics \si/ard Nicholas Baginsky suits the tempo of eyents on account of his robotic sculptures. lhey will be seen scampering along passageways and bu/xiug (at a safe distance) overhead. Nick's robotics are very interesting because they imitate organic life.‘ l‘arcpihar explains. ‘Ile likes to work in unusual circumstances. sti hes making insectoid structures especially for the show‘
Those feeling at odds with all things digital have a representati\e in New York ‘renaissancc boet‘ l)ael ()rlandersmith. ‘l )ale‘s a true techno—phobe.‘ remarks l-‘artiuhar. who
initiated her into the ways of e—mail and
Stelarc: totally wired
received tnany a sweary phone call in return for his pains.
Audience members can choose toch in on the act in several ways. (lame voluntcet's cart donate stoi'ics’. blood samples and strands of hair. and .see them projected onto ten screens adorning the l"t‘ttitiii;ti‘kc‘t‘s interior. alongside stories sent to the .\'\'.'\ Website frotn lot) different countries. :\lternately. you can grab a quasi»-legitimate passport courtesy of NSK. the Slovenian arts group exhibiting on site.
’l‘o cap it all. live percussion from llr lx’apiniki and the Sativa drummers will de\ elop. each night. into a full—blow n club with from l’laid. Skin 'l’rade. l’anic and ’l'w itch tl’ttre. lidinburghi.
Is this digitally enhanced feast likely to \eramble our circuits'_’ l-artpihar thinks not. "l'he performances are \cry personal and people will find a straightforward emotional build through- out the uight.‘ he says/If l was setting them all off at once I'd say you'd get your brain scrambled. btit I‘m not into information oyerload. You sound like a politician if you say there's something for the heart. something for the head and something for the feet. btit that‘s the sort ofcltib I‘d want to go to.”
Smart talk like that could turn tis all into millennial optimists.
Virtual World Orchestra is at Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Fri 4, Sat 5, Sun 6 April, 9pm—2am
(£18/E1O conc). For more information contact the V50 Web site at: www.vwo.mcg.gla.ac.uk/