Lounge, performance, audience participation and party With a view towards the future, Klaus Obermaier and the Ars Electronica Futurelab have recourse to a historical art movement that still packs a punch even as it nears 100: the anti-art movement Dada with its predilection for the anarchic and absurd. 98 years after the first Salon Dada in Zürich's Cabaret Voltaire, a unique setting entitled Take a Number, Leave Your Head takes the Dada mentality that once rained down abuse on the bourgeoisie and lets it loose on our high-tech present.
In the basement beneath the Ars Electronica Futurelab, a temporary club is set up featuring a bar and interactive zones in which visitors can get acquainted with Dada poetry. The space's soundscape can be distorted by mere gestures. And suddenly the ludicrous dramatics begin: actors and dancers morphing into virtual copies of those present. In this dramaturgical setting, audience members together with professional performers and high-tech tools create a setting for digital and physical absurdities.
Klaus Obermaier: artistic director, choreography, sound | Christopher Lindinger: scientific project management | Martina Mara: dramaturgy, text dance/performance: Michael Gross, Katharina Pfiel, Barbara Vuzem | technical management: Roland Haring | software and content development: Roland Aigner, Benjamin Mayr, Michael Mayr, Otto Naderer | stage set: Max Helbig | stage and lighting technology: Patrick Müller, Erwin Reitböck. Special thanks to Rose Breuss, Institute of Dance Arts, Anton Bruckner Private University Linz as well as Kyle McDonald for his incredible work.
How do you get the public involved?
But keep in mind that this is more than an art history allusion. Take a Number, Leave Your Head is the interim result of a research project entitled (St)Age of Participation that, since 2011, has been investigating new possibilities of audience participation in stage-based media art. What dramaturgical factors have to be considered when spectators co-determine in real time what occurs in a performance? Which interfaces are suited to the collective design of a work's sounds, visuals and other content? Can participation heighten an audience's emotional involvement in an artistic experience? And can sustained involvement even be expected of spectators, or do they also need places for retreat and phases of passive reception?
To wrestle with these issues, the staff of (St)Age of Participation developed several approximately half-hour-long micro-performances conceived as dramaturgical proving grounds. This series entitled Letterbox was staged in 2012 at Deep Space in the Ars Electronica Center.