Friday 24th May – Keynote Lectures
*For more information about the panels and demonstrations please click here*
Keynote Dialogue “Kris Verdonck (A Two Dogs Company) in dialogue with Peter Eckersall (CUNY)”
Many of Verdonck’s creations demonstrate the marvels of what Jon McKenzie (2001) has termed technoperformance: the performance of technological agents. Non-human performers are prominently present. In some works, they are the sole actors, like for example in Huminid, where the audience watches a projection of actor Johan Leysen on a doll and listens to his voice. Or DANCER#1, where a grinding wheel with a big steel ‘L’ hanging from the ceiling performs its unique movements. Or DANCER#2, in which Verdonck stages the performance of an engine. Or DANCER#3, a robot trying to stand up straight, and failing. Time and again, he falls down, but he does not give up. In other works, technological agents perform on an equal footing with human actors, like in END, where an engine, a fire and a set of loudspeakers crossed the stage independently. H, An Incident included several autonomously performing musical robots. In M, A Reflection, Johan Leysen performs together with a projection of a recording of himself and in which the difference between his live presence and the projection becomes indistinguishable. For the audience, at least. For the actor, performing this work requires careful attunement to his digital double and the acknowledgment of this technological agent as a co-performer in its own right. SPRING 2019 shows Verdonck’s latest work, titled Something (out of nothing), in which machines inflatable objects, projections, and humans are the performers in a reflection on the end of mankind.
Kris Verdonck studied visual arts, architecture, and theatre. His creations are positioned in the transit zone between visual arts and theatre, between installation and performance, between dance and architecture. As a theatre-maker and visual artist, he can look back over a wide variety of projects.
For Eckersall’s bio, you can click here.
Keynote Lecture “Uncanny Valley” – Stefan Kaegi (Rimini Protokoll)
Since 2014, Kaegi adapts the immersive Audio Walk Remote X—a work that deals with artificial intelligence—into such different urban landscapes and contexts as Santiago de Chile, Taipei, Moscow, Abu Dhabi or New York, and he tours the interactive installation Nachlass that portrays eight people who have not much time to live. In Society under Construction he invites up to 300 spectators to impersonate the conflicts on one of many oversized construction sites. In 2018, he created a humanoid robot to perform as a clone of the German writer Thomas Melle in Uncanny Valley.
‘Uncanny valley’ is a term used to describe the feeling machines cause in people when they are too similar to human beings. The robot (or Melle? Or Kaegi?) is delving into this uncanny valley to ask: what happens when a person is copied? What does it mean for the original? Does he get to know himself better through his electronic double? Do the copy and his original compete with each other, or do they help each other?
In his keynote address, Stefan Kaegi will speak about the ideas behind this creation and the process of creating this performance.
Stefan Kaegi produces documentary theatre plays, radio shows and works in the urban environment in a diverse variety of collaborative partnerships. Using research, public auditions and conceptual processes, he gives voice to ‘experts’ who are not trained actors but have something to tell. Kaegi co-produces works with Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel, under the label “Rimini Protokoll”. Rimini Protokoll’s purpose is to pry apart what we perceive as reality and present all its facets from unusual perspectives.