Last night, a full audience in Wish Theater was presented again, again and again by the stark themes of loopdriver.
The creators of the project describe it as the "aftermath of an encounter with violence," a theme which is expanded to include the daily assault of various electronic stimuli on the human psyche.
Loopdriver, a multimedia dance performance, was originally commissioned by the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is the brainchild of Mark Coniglio, Dawn Stoppiello and Peter C. von Salis, and is performed by six dancers of the Troika Ranch company.
This hour-long performance is based on the concept of digital looping. According to the company's website, the piece aims to "explore...a structure pervasive in culture since the popularization of the computer."
What began as a five-minute long, chronological dance was re-mastered by the computer program Isadora to follow a repetitive structure.
The original movements and accompanying music, video and lights became a complex, hour long score that traverses various human themes.
Consequently, the artists behind loopdriver make no effort to conceal its necessary human flaws.
"While the digital materials...maintain the absolute precision of the computer, the learned choreography is necessarily imperfect due to human interpretation."
It is the inability of the performers to completely assimilate to the digital formula of the choreography which ultimately lends the piece its artistic value.
To Ed Simmons, a Yarmouth resident, the performance "seemed to be an emergence of a species in the electronic world, going through a series of interactions and then retreating to the beginning."
The concept of "interaction" is crucial to the artistic mission of loopdiver, whose creators believe that "The relationships—between man and machine, man and woman, action and image—exist to drive expression and present—and translate—the essence of the human condition."
This human condition is not always easy to face: it was "agonizing to watch" said Simmons.
The intention to "present a dense and highly physical theater of ideas that echoes the multiplicity and maximum sensory capacity of our time and culture" also daunted Tiffany Maltos '11 who found the performance "intense."
For Topsham resident Neil Culpepper, the most impressive aspect of the piece was the mechanics of the set.
Throughout the course of the performance, three black panels unfold and then imperceptibly begin to close. Meanwhile, these sculptures act as video projection surfaces for images of the performers, further echoing the repetition of their movement.
Said loopdriver's creators, "the meaning of the materials grows and changes as it appears again and again and again, ultimately challenging us to dive in and break free of our own repetitive and potentially destructive behavior."
The overall effect of the performance struck a deep chord with those in attendance. Brunswick resident Jody Holt lauded the sheer endurance of the repetition of the dancer's movement.
For Atilano Rodriguez '12, this repetition hinted at struggle, the constant robotic movement a lament for this modern age: "We [humans] act as if we're robots...we're programmed to act in certain ways."
The director's statement summarizes the goal of loopdriver's performance in the most direct way, stating, "In the end, our aim is to examine an ongoing human effort: the desire to integrate the most basic expressions of the soul with the most complex creations of the mind."