This was the first piece I made with choreographer André Gingras, and was a collaboration with Fabio Iaquone (video) and Sue Jane Stoker (dramaturgy).
From the performance programme:
'The work is based on the stories of Gilles De Rais and Jeffrey Dahmer as well as the neurological studies of Dr. Oliver Saks and Dr. A.R. Luria.
The Sweet Flesh Room asks you a few questions about reality. Perceived reality. CNN reality. Reality TV. And all the realities in between.
The Sweet Flesh Room investigates what gives us a sense of security in our environment. In a world that is more and more uncertain, what do we know is true? Are we ever really safe? Through the examination of the relationships and minds of infamous serial killers, we dive into a new world of the absurd and macabre; where criminal psychological profiling is intertwined with blood rituals and werewolf myths. The need of our society to understand and cope with extremely violent acts has been prevalent for centuries; how do we relate to the disturbed and monstrous and how do they perceive us?'
This was a collaboration with my long-term friend and colleague, Jayachandran Palazhy (choreography), and media artist Christian Ziegler, from ZKM in Germany
At that time, Jay ran a London-based dance company called Imlata. Most of the dancers were from India, and most schooled in the Kerelan martial art of Kalari (Jay himself has this background). The movement vocabulary is very much contemporary dance, but ennabled by the physical skills which Kalari fosters.
A particular feature of this production was an extremely high-tech gauze screen in front of the stage. This was black and COMPLETELY invisible except where the light struck it, which gave an almost holographic effect.
Jay has since moved back to India, and set up a company in Bangalore - Attikalari. I've worked with them a number of times, as a workshop leader, teacher, composer and artist; in particular on the fantastic FACETS workshops.
I've made quite a number of pieces with choreographer Andre Gingras - over the years we've become very regular collaborators. In the meantime, the gigs have got bigger - this is possibly the biggest, with Nederlands Dans Theater, who I think are one of the best contemporary dance outfits in the world.
It was a big troupe of dancers, a big stage and a big audience (the premiere was at the Lucent Theater in Den Haag). I think both Andre and I felt the need to make things a little more 'mainstream' in comparison to some of the other work we've made. My brief for this section was very simple really - Andre simply wanted something 'big', extrovert, exciting... and in a very obvious FOUR (I found a constant challenge in working with so many dancers on such a big stage was simply ensuring they could hear the beat). I think he said it should sound like 'a great big party' or something...
The electric guitar at the end wasn't really my idea - it was more part of the theatre of the piece than part of the music (if you know what I mean). But Andre insisted, so I just went with it!
This was commissioned by Hewlett Packard, Alias Software (now part of Autodesk) and the Watershed Media Centre (Bristol, UK), as part of the SE3D project.
SE3D was essentially a Research and Development project initiated by HP. They're developing something called the 'Utility Render Service', which is basically an enormous server 'farm' (literally thousands of computers sitting in a room somewhere in California) for 3D animation. This facility can be rented as required, potentially giving access to the kind of render power the likes of Pixar and Dreamworks use to... well, people who aren't Pixar or Dreamworks. So, to test the service, 11 projects were commissioned from small media companies or individuals, and I was one of them. With some extra funding from Arts and Business, I was paired up with Supernatural Studios, a new production company in London.
This was really an R&D project on a personal level too. Much of the project was devoted to developing a piece of software (imaginatively titled 'soundtracker'), which allows various parameters of sounds to be extracted and applied to any aspect of animation (in, in this case, Maya). So, the motion, cameras, lighting and even geometry are all derived from the sound in this demonstration piece.
I think there's a lot of potential in these techniques, and that we only just scratched the surface here. One day I'll do a follow-up (and more substantial) piece. One day...