We checked out choreographer Wayne McGregor’s & art group Random International’s collaboration No One Is An Island today. The dance performance simply blew us away. Superblue and BMW are presenting this brilliant show.
MEET FIFTEEN POINTS/II
The 12-minute show explores the interaction between humans and machines. It involves two dancers and one robotic machine or kinetic sculpture called Fifteen Points/II on a track of about 20-metre long rails with 15 stick-like arms that each have very strong lights at the end. It can move forward and backward on the rails and move its arms with the lights up and down, forward and backward.
INPUT FROM HARVARD
The ideas for the machine were developed by Random International during various artist residences, including one at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
A MACHINE WITH SOME HUMAN FEATURES
Many of the moves of the machine feel almost human-like. This includes a sequence where its movements seem hesitant, shy, and almost thoughtful and another sequence where one set of arms appears to walk across the ground.
THE DANCERS IN NO ONE IS AN ISLAND
Rebecca Bassett-Graham’s and Jacob O’Connell’s performance in Random International’s No One Is An Island is very stylish and extremely well-choreographed. Their dance is not necessarily in line with the machine’s movement.
However, it is clear that every inch of movement and every second of timing have been meticulously planned out. Both dancers are part of Company Wayne McGregor. The acoustic background was created by musician Chihei Hatakeyama.
The best parts are when the room’s light is dimmed down and the dancers move inside the two wall-like sides of the machine while it moves. The arms of the robot create almost hypnotic patterns. It’s all very aesthetic and truly fascinating.
YOU CAN MOVE ALONGSIDE THE DANCERS
The audience is encouraged to move alongside the performers as long as they keep at least one metre’s distance from both dancers and the tracks.
HOW DO HUMANS EMPATHISE WITH A.I.
According to the brochure “No One is an Island is fuelled by science and explores electrified movement steered by advanced algorithms. It is a future-oriented reflection on how the human mind empathises with artificial intelligence and automated processes.”
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DYNAMICS BETWEEN TECHNOLOGY AND HUMANITY
Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, the co-founder and CEO of Superblue, is being quoted as saying that “creating new platforms for experiential artists to collaborate is core to [Superblue’s] mission.” According to her, the project “provokes questions about the dynamics between technology and humanity that are critical to deepening our understanding of our relationship to the world and each other.”
MINIMAL AMOUNT OF INPUT NEEDED TO DEVELOP HUMAN FEATURES
We learn that the robotic sculpture experiments with the minimal amount of information that is necessary for an animated form to be attributed human features.
WHAT CHANGES WHEN THAT INPUT CHANGES
On the same token, the artwork looks at the impact created by subtle changes within that information. The dancers interact with the sculpture, further exploring the relationship between technology and human beings as well as our capacity to empathise with a machine.
HOW STRONG IS OUR NEED TO RELATE TO OUR SURROUNDINGS
How strong is our need as humans to relate to our surroundings? In an era of ever-increasing automation and digitisation, how will this need play out? Will it make us more vulnerable?
At the end of the show the two dancers lie down peacefully on the floor surrounded by the machine’s parts. It feels harmonious, not ominous.
THE DANCERS DEVELOPED A CONNECTION WITH THE MACHINE
McGregor says the dancers and he himself quickly developed a connection with the robot which he likens to the one he had as a kid with his Tamagotchi.
I’ll be frank, we didn’t really get much out of Random International’s second artwork, “Body/Light.” Everything is on the same premises. “Body/Light” was inspired by Picasso’s light drawings and premiered during Frieze New York. We, the visitors, were able to create our own lines of light and to capture movement and electricity visually.
“NO ONE IS AN ISLAND”
No One Is An Island is one of the most fascinating performances we’ve ever seen. 5 out of 5. Don’t miss it.
Looking for more artsy-fartsy stuff? Check out our posts about Frieze Sculpture 2022, Sculpture In The City 2022, Frameless, the immersive art experience, Anish Kapoor at the Lisson Gallery, Curiouser and Curiouser (Alice in Wonderland) at the V&A, or about the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens.