This Floating World is a duet between a dancer and a 3D camera. More than screensaver chic, the stage is reincarnated as a force field of music and visuals within which Jan Lee's careful movements – all emanating from a controlled pulsing crouch – are mapped in real-time. Conjuring prehistoric cave drawings, star constellations and aerial cityscapes, the piece drives towards its crescendo with an intensity teetering on the dogged. In the final moments, Lee hangs with her arms above her head and the layered images dissipate like the cloudy wisps of a just blown dandelion. A startlingly emotive and natural end to a piece with technology at its core, showing just how much you can do with clarity, control and computer programming.
The tightness of This Floating World puts into relief the lack of direction in Kartarse Ensemble’s work-in progress Platisphere which is inspired by our relation to plastic. Bombarding the audience with props (plastic bags, plastic sheeting, plastic chairs) and sounds (live musicians, accapella singer, voiceover) only serves to confuse the narrative between the three dancers. Rui Peixoto’s head stand in a tyre is suggestively surreal, while Sara Cheu, stuffing plastic bags into her clothes until she resembles a Kim Kardashian caricature suggests themes of body image/plastic surgery that could be explored. In a piece ostensibly about consumption, they might find that less is more.
In casually faded primary colours, Rhys Dennis, Ajani Johnson-Goffe and Muti Musafiri spiral around each other initially to the sounds of their own claps and breath, later to a trio of live djembe drummers. They experience the stage-world as if new-born; nothing is accepted, everything is novelty. The introversion of the trio – constantly circulating and maintaining eye-contact with each other - emits a real sense of energy, although risks excluding the audience. The pivotal moment is a game of word-association that jumps from 'sound' and 'rhythm' to 'existence' and ends with the phrase 'we are here right now.'
Lilia Prier Tisdall
There’s a lot happening in The Floating World, yet nothing is muddled. Centre stage is dancer Jan Lee, her purposeful crouches and flexes picked up by a relay camera. Stage left, Tim Murray-Browne operates an audiovisual gizmo that crunches together synthesised sounds with signals from the camera, transforming them into abstract patterns projected onto a large backcloth, behind Lee. It’s a self-referential world of feedback loops: sea-of-sound wave patterns accompany floating arms, measured treads trigger palette-knife smears, tendril shapes twist into glowing neurone patterns. The effect is like watching a multimedia screensaver: fascinating, but you can easily zone out.
There’s a lot happening too in Rosana Ribeiro’s actually rather messy Plastisphere. Rui Peixoto sits on a plastic chair, in plastic sunglasses, by a plastic parasol. Angelo Cid Neto emerges like a lost sea creature from a drift of plastic bags. Sara Cheu sings 'I’m gonna live forever' – and you realise she’s referring to the plastic. She scrunches the bags beneath her clothes, like so much silicone, and musicians Nikolai Linnik and Daniel Rico pump the stage with reverb guitar. Plastisphere is clearly a work in progress, its pace choppy, its scenes as scattered as flotsam. Yet at its best it achieves the dystopian quality of nightmare – material worth saving for re-use or recycling.
A&R Company’s Progression begins with a stop-motion solo by Rhys Dennis, to the disembodied sound of clapping. He’s joined by Ajani Johnson-Goffe and Muti Musafiri, and the claps give way to sharp inhalations; rhythm entering the body. The trio speak single words – floor, heart, sound, continuity – as if culling keywords from broken phrases. They move in fragments too; nothing flows for long. Drummers join them on stage, and you sense both sound and motion beginning to knit back into phrases, stitched together by shape and rhythm, by hands and legs, by hearts and minds. Progression feels very unfinished, but its studious, introspective attitude certainly rewards attention.