Recorded in 03/09, SOS is an example of the company's use of a video/theatre hybrid. Although this piece is unique to the company's work in its humor and speed, it illustrates the Big Art Group's virtuosity with technology and displays the execution of Real Time Film. In this excerpt two characters are luma keyed onto video backgrounds and quickly edited and delivered to multiple screens on stage. In the second section characters are layered into one another's screens building up a complex image of a location and scene, all the while showing the audience the live construction of the event. This demonstrates how the audience is invited to make critical participatory decisions about their interpretation of the performance, choosing where to look, how to assimilate the layering and framing of information, and questioning their identification with quickly shifting roles and viewpoints.
An action media performance exploring futureness, survivalism, revolutionary movements and contemporary rituals, the performance examines the notion of sacrifice to make space for a new beginning.
SOS began as an investigation into the nature of sacrifice within a supersaturated, hyper-acquisitive society. Set in a forest of technology the performance unwinds through overlapping abstract narratives. Animals lost in their native habitat turn on each other in a hopeless contest for survival. Revolutionaries broadcasting from a skeletal studio implode under the pressure of their own rhetoric, and technology addicts enmeshed in a self-created universe seek escape from a tightening web of perception. As these environments collide and overturn, the stage transforms into a celebration of chaos verging towards the freedom of annihilation.
SOS continues and advances Big Art Group’s Real-Time Film technique, a conceptual model conflating performance, television and movies. Using live performance and video, Real-Time Film plays cinematic composition and controlled perspective against the verity of TV broadcast and the immediacy of live performance. In SOS, a multi-camera and multi-screen forest of technology located within a landscape of refuse gives the audience a corrupted panoptic view of colliding narratives. Unlike traditional theatrical performance, Big Art Group’s extended mediated performances reposition viewers into active editors, challenging audience members to problem-solve complex issues of sexuality, race, narrative and truth as a theatrical mirror to the process of navigation through contemporary society.
CAST AND CREW
Created by Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson
Direction, Video Installation, Set, Costumes by Caden Manson
Text, Sound by Jemma Nelson
Performed by David Commander, Michael Helland, Mikeah Ernest Jennings, Heather
Litteer, Willie Mullins and Edward Stresen-Reuter
Technical Director Lighting and Set by Hillery Makatura
Videos by Caden Manson, Jemma Nelson, David Commander, and Edwards Stresen-
Production Manager Ana Mari de Quesada
Assistant Director Kathleen Amshoff
Video System Design by Caden Manson, Jared Mezzocchi
Video System Tech Dan Hansell
Intern Charlie Conway
Produced by Big Art Group and Diane White
Co-produced by The Wiener Festwochen and The Kitchen.
Wiener Festwochen (Vienna, Austria)
Théâtre Garonne (Toulouse, France)
Temps d’Image Festival (Montreal, Canada)
The Kitchen (NYC, USA)
REDCAT (Los Angeles, USA)
Yerba Buena Arts Center (San Fransisco, USA)
Prospettiva 09 (Turin, Italy)
SOS points to a category of experiment under way in alternative theater, which might be described as Internet dramaturgy: live performances structured around nonlinear associations, a continual or escalating series of non sequiturs, or constantly regenerated narrative frames. These dramatic forms echo our now-daily experiences of clicking through multiple sites and toggling between realities. Stage compositions increasingly reflect structures and patterns from the Web, a development ripe with potential. … But in the next era—now under way—there’s an appetite and opportunity for enlarging the theatrical experience in New York. If anyone can seize the day, it may be Big Art Group, Nature Theater, and anyone else with the intellectual muscle to build up the vanguard.
- Village Voice
“The show is outrageous, brilliantly designed, and incredibly smart.”
– L Magazine
“Yes! Here is something with enough smarts, humor, speed, and daring for this moment: Big Art Group’s new hybrid production, SOS.”
– NY Theater
“Big Art Group mixes video and mystical rites for its mesmerizing spectacle SOS.”
– NY Time Out
“The final moment, was the single most visually compelling thing we have seen on stage, maybe ever, and likely worth the price of admission in and of itself. To that end, it also served as a reminder that Big Art Group remains one of the boldest crews around, and their work at the intersection of video and performance persists as uniquely important. ”
– Artcat Zine
“It’s like standing in the big-screen-TV section of a Best Buy, but with the volume on every set cranked to “maximum.”
– New York Times