Bonemap’s Nerve Engine is influenced by encounters with the inherently liminal geography of earth, sea and sky that encase the landscape and cosmology in far northern Australia. The work creatively represents ephemeral forces that affect identity and perception in both overt and subtle ways.
The foundational impulses generating the themes for this project have their origins in the symbolism of the tropics. Exploring interpretations of dance and the landscape, Nerve Engine creates virtual environments revealed in the imagination of the audience and dancer as they share the space of the performance arena - one audience member at a time.
Terrain, wind, water and luminosity, reminiscent of meteorological events, are natural elements imaginatively represented in the form of an enchanted topographical world. Within the work audience participate to invoke their own journey through a magic geography as it responds to live interactions between performer and audience.
Nerve Engine is a repeating ten minute experience which offers audiences the opportunity to generate elements of the performance through movement and proximity. As a dance installation it transforms the interior of the venue into participatory zones where spacious translucent cylinders immerse the audience at the centre of an improvised collaboration within a projected virtual landscape cosmology.
The prototype for the project was the development of a system or ‘engine’ of electronic and human parts that could respond to live moments and movement. The performance engine is able to engage the audience and performer in an array of sensory feedback zones. Realtime computer data processing brings the space around the participants alive in a unique synesthetic immersion that begins to complement the improvisatory interactions of the live performance.
It is through this physical manifestation of a system that Nerve Engine derives its descriptive title. The work is framed as a performative experience; its corpus occupies an intermedial zone between performance, sculpture, image and cinema.
Sophisticated human movement motion tracking, choreographic augmented technologies, customised hand held devices and cinematic effects create an immersive scenographic world. The performance engine’s response to interactivity and performed human movement is intended to invoke the audience participant to reciprocate with their own human movement and in so doing generate a particular effect through the work.
Since 2010 Bonemap has been testing the format of presenting 10 – 15 minute sessions for individual audience participants. The format is effective for activating venues and spaces during the day. This format has been well attended and diversifies audiences. It has been well placed within a festival context and with venues that have the expectation of attracting patrons during the day and can be complemented with an evening full length performance with a mass audience.
The work is underpinned by an ecological focus. The audience is an active participant, rather than sedentary spectator, as each one engages in a relationship with the elements in the work. Every individual will have a different experience, a personal journey that they traverse with their own presence as baggage. How much they interact determines their experience, as each incarnation serves as a subtle reminder about how they themselves engage in the world, and the consequence of action/inaction.
Russell Milledge director, scenographic design and media
Rebecca Youdell co-director, choreographer performer
Steven Campbell sound design
Jason Holdsworth programmer
Catherine Hassall, sessional performer
Tai Inoue, production assistant
Queensland University of Technology, Creative Industries Precincts, Digital Associates Program, The Block.
Rachael Parsons, curator
Blair Walkinshaw, technical manager
Queensland Government Arts Queensland, James Cook University School of Creative Arts, The Cairns Institute, Ausdance Queensland, Centre of Contemporary Arts Cairns