PRESENCE is a performance which responds to the constraints put upon live performance and international travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and uses live-motion capture of the artists face in Hong Kong, projection mapped as a digital avatar onto the face of a performer in Europe through the design of a headset which allows the remote artist to see and hear the audience, move with the performer and have their ‘presence’ teleported into a geographically distant location. The premise of the piece is to test the limits of the audience’s perception of the artist’s virtual presence despite their physical absence given the minimal threshold of their technological representation in the theatre. The artist will give a performance lecture, which begins with an explanation of the concept of presence, which opens up the broader theme of having our experience of the world technologically determined by the software we use. This relation becomes more complex when those technologies involve the virtual teleportation of consciousness itself, as is the case with teleconferencing technologies like ZOOM. The performance lecture then opens up to become a ‘conference’, but where multiple subjectivities are allowed to inhabit the digital avatar of the artist, speaking through his voice, swapping his face and voice with their own. The performer removes the headset as the avatar becomes overwhelmed by the multiple subjectivities and the face becomes a glitching, datamoshed cacophony of competing identities and voices. The final part of the performance removes the artist’s avatar and the performer’s physical presence entirely, leaving only an empty theatre and a voice, where the theatre and its instruments become the performer itself, the lighting, sound and stage transforming into voice activated vectors for communicating the dissolved presence of the artist.
Commissioned by Zurcher Theatre Spektakel, Zurich, Switzerland, Kampnagel Hamburg, Germany, Kaserne Basel, Switzerland ObScene Festival, Seoul, South Korea, Taipei International Arts Festival, Taiwan
- Zurcher Theatre Spektakel, Zurich Switzerland, https://rotefabrik.ch/de/programm.html#/events/16301
- Kaserne Basel, Basel, Switzerland, https://kaserne-basel.ch/en/programme/royceng_presence
- Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany, https://www.kampnagel.de/en/program/presence/?rubrik=archiv
- Arko Theatre, Seoul, South Korea, http://ob-scene.com/?fbclid=IwAR0KGIuQaDFwi-hz9QEvgV9Z2jsbEoEnSMioegc8aNApu2XNPebHd9Tv57g#rental
- Theatre Liege, Liege, Belgium
- Spring Theatre Festival, Utrecht, the Netherlands, https://festivalaandewerf.nl/programma/presence?language=en
- Taipei International Art Festival
THE POLYPHONOUS AVATAR
The Polyphonous Avatar is a work-in-progress preview of the performance PRESENCE, while features a discussion between artist Royce Ng and Alvaro Cassinelli on the topic of telepresence, consciousness and technology.
The work was commissioned by Kampnagel – Internationales Zentrum für schönere Künste in Hamburb Germany and can be viewed here.
- Ng, R. & Cassinelli, A., Live Art Festival #11 & Claiming Common Spaces III, Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany (online performance) [06.2021]
- Ng, R. & Cassinelli, A., Ars Electronica Garden Hong Kong / Art in the Cloud Exhibition, At the Edge of Reality (online), [9.2021]