Kjell Theøry is an Augmented Reality performance juxtaposing the writings of Alan Turing—a gay twentieth century computing pioneer—about pattern and shape in the natural world with algorithmic mutations of Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play The Breasts of Tiresias, a gender fluid spectacle for which the playwright invented the word “surrealism.” The performance considers the last two years of Turing’s life wherein he expanded his focus to include biology while seeking asylum and tolerance in Scandinavia following his prosecution for crimes of indecency in the United Kingdom. Turing named his theory of morphogenesis—the autonomous generation of flowers and other natural forms—for a Norwegian love interest, Kjell.
In Kjell Theøry, ATOM-r draws on Turing’s theory, turning it into a poetic and choreographic system to blur the boundaries between the binaries of physical and virtual space, past and future, male and female, and human and machine. The collective’s process creates a deeply entangled and fertile exchange between the live body and ubiquitously distributed data-driven systems. A project-specific ecology of source material is translated as movement, visualized on screens, and mapped onto bodies and geo-physical space through locative and computer-vision based augmented reality. The performance uses coded systems and augmentation to create a liminal theatre evolved in relation to the Graham Foundation’s specific spatial context. While the work is inherently variable, it is experienced as a tightly constrained, yet flexible, information pattern that allows for close attention, emergence, and interruption.
Collaborators on Kjell Theøry include: Grace DuVal (costumes); Elena Ailes, Claire Ashley, Bryan Saner, Laura Prieto-Velasco, Stephen Reynolds, and Oli Watt (objects); Leonardo Kaplan (performance); Mev Luna (research assistant); Joshua Patterson (sound); Josh Hoglund (lighting); Javier Lopez (graphic design); and Julia Pello (video).
This exhibition and Performance and marks the conclusion of ATOM-r’s Residency at the International Museum of Surgical Science and Graham Foundation.