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da:ns Fest 2014: Forecasting goes full stream ahead with YouTube videos

SINGAPORE — From ALPHA’s steel pole and pole dancing, da:ns Fest moved on to a piece that used a laptop and lots of YouTube videos yesterday.

da:ns Fest 2014: Forecasting goes full stream ahead with YouTube videos

Turtle power! Barbara Matijevic in Forecasting. Photo: Olivier Heinry.

SINGAPORE — From ALPHA’s steel pole and pole dancing, da:ns Fest moved on to a piece that used a laptop and lots of YouTube videos yesterday.

The videos were central in the playful and often hilarious Forecasting by the collaborative duo of Croatian Barbara Matijevic and Italian Giuseppe Chico. It’s essentially a piece hinged on a series of snippets compiled from YouTube and played on a normal laptop with which Matijevic performed as the three-dimensional bodily extension of the flat, two-dimensional images seen on it.

The videos were seemingly chosen at random but it was actually painstakingly assembled by Chico for some sense of continuity, or at least an associative visual flow — that occasionally did a badge-carrying surrealist proud, as when a close-up video of a larynx was placed between Matijevic’s legs to stand in for a vagina.

The range of videos was crazy: Instructional ones, confessional ones, the gross and the nonsensical, the fetishistic and the cutesy. From videos of tying shoelaces and ties to food and cooking videos to pet videos to a close-up of a very realistic prosthetic wound, Matijevic was the performer who linked all of these together.

Forecasting played on hybridity (and for some reason, I was reminded of Choy Ka Fai’s lecture performance Notion: Dance Fiction back in 2012, where, if we conveniently ignore the punchline of everything actually being staged, also brought up the relationship between choreography, body and technology, i.e. electrical charges that are pre-programmed to mimic and consequently dictate certain choreographic movements of famous dancers. By the way, he’s also got a da:ns Fest-related exhibition on at the Esplanade Tunnel looking at Asian choreographers).

Matijevic became, in some sense, a virtual cyborg. Hers was the body of the disembodied hands that prop up a book or cut carrots. She’s the head of a body in the video, the body of a head in the video. At times, too, her speech or act of speaking formed another extension, speaking lines from or lip-synching to the video.

The “choreography” may not be obvious or even dance-like but seeing as she didn’t look at the computer screen, it’s pretty obvious how tight and intricate it was. Besides, it’s this very natural, erm, nature of her body moments in this unnatural situation that’s likely one of the points.

Another was the idea of framing — what a computer screen, what a video frames and what happens outside of it, which is essentially imagined and created by Matijevic, who riffs off of these, like a jazz player creating shapes, to create various images from various perspectives—smoothly transitioning from someone assembling, holding and shooting a gun to being the one at whom the gun was pointed. (Incidentally, this gun section was the most coherently assembled and the most pointed topical commentary in the entire piece—pretty scary how there are so many gun-related videos one can dig up on YouTube, which is prudish when it comes to sex.)

Forecasting was a blast. Also, I don’t feel it’s gimmicky so much as it felt exploratory. It was, after all, the third in the duo’s trilogy of pieces based on Internet surfing. And because of the wealth of data available on these online video platforms, it could take on various permutations depending on, say language and what else it wants to say apart from this duet between human and laptop, between 2D and 3D.

For more details, visit http://www.dansfestival.com/2014/

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