REACCLIMATING THE STAGE (SKENOMORPHOSES)
Artistic Research Doctoral project 2015-2020
Tutke/Performing Arts Research Centre, Theatre Academy, UNIARTS Helsinki
The Reacclimating the Stage (Skenomorphoses) artistic research doctoral project examines the actual transformations of the (notion of) stage, and therefore of scenic practices, in the face of climatic and anthropo-technological mutations of the 21st century. Through the art, the research looks into scenic thinking, time ecology, and queer-ed temporalities of the transforming (notion of) stage. The research is anchored in and executed through my practice as a metteur-en-scène, and fuelled by my doubts concerning what I perceive as a fundamental anthropocentrism embedded in the very mechanisms of western theatre, regarded as unsuitable in a time when human activity poses a profound biospheric and algorithmic impact on the environment. The artworks thus operate within the research framework as experiments on the following questions: How to re -design/-direct/-perform/-imagine a stage on the brink of environmental collapse and in the age of an algorithm-conditioned society based on the reflection that human-centered scenic forms, scales, and perspectives do not seem to enable a sustainable commons that include other-than-human beings? How to re-consider and give dramaturgical and performative hospitality to those other-than-human entities (plants, animals, minerals, meteorological phenomena, but also computational, algorithmic, artificial ones) as our contemporary stage co-actors? How to review and ecologically renegotiate the human aesthetic control of the stage letting enter other-than-human temporalities? What can deepening, reecologizing, and retemporizing the stage be? What is at stake, at work, and at play when shifting from directing to redirecting? What kind of stage(s) form(s) after the internalized dramaturgies of the postdramatic, in this radical movement toward the techno-eco-dramaturgies of a hyperdramatic theatre, or post-theatre drama?
Supervision / Direction de la recherche: Esa Kirkkopelto, philosopher, performing artist, researcher and Professor of Artistic Research at the Performing Arts Research Centre, Uniarts Helsinki (supervision period: 2015 – 2019) & Mika Elo, visual artist, researcher and Professor of Artistic Research at the Fine Arts Academy, Uniarts Helsinki (2016 – 2020)
Supported by / Soutien à la recherche: CIMO Fellowships Programme (2015-2016), KONE Foundation (2016 – 2020)
DATA OCEAN THEATRE (D.O.T.)
Post-Doctoral Artistic Research Project (2020 – 2025)
The four-year-long project DATA OCEAN THEATRE (D.O.T.) tangles myths, western theatre memory, new media, digital animism, climate emergency, seas and oceans transformations, queer subcultures, and technological mutations in relation to diverse aspects of «submersion» as a contemporary living condition. D.O.T. appears, disappears, and reappears through a series of polymorphic works based on the dramaturgical consideration of the simultaneous phenomenon of 1. the rising sea and ocean levels, 2. the exponential growth of big data in our informational age, and 3. the emotional overload caused by the latter two happening, projection, and prophecy.
DATA OCEAN THEATRE consists of three parts:
D.O.T. / Launching (In the Time of a Pandemic) (2020)
PART 1. D.O.T. / Tragedy & the Goddexxes (2021 – 2022)
PART 2. D.O.T. / Oceanȹunk (working title, 2023 – 2024)
Based on the claim of the unsustainability of fundamental anthropocentrism (considered as toxically) embedded in the very mechanisms of western theatre, the DATA OCEAN THEATRE (D.O.T.) project expands my artistic implementations on how the notion and the practice of the “stage” evolve through contemporary climate-morphing, technological conditioning, and transdisciplinary hybridizing. The project pushes the artistic and epistemic challenges further based on the transformations of my scenographic practice as a theatre director from a multi-environmental perspective that takes in, as a double milieu and a double condition, the biospheric mutations and the acceleration of information. While theatrically testing the qualities and quantities of the growing tech-environments, the research is looking at how the data swell potentially, and poetically, meets the biospheric transformations of the Earth, and especially the alarming rising of seas and oceans. In this sense, and building on my previous experiments, that drew, from the perspective of “redirecting/reacclimating” the stage and “re-ecologizing” theatre, on theoretical resources such as Actor-Network-Theory, Posthumanism, Ecodramaturgy, Queer theory, or Techno-eco-feminism, the D.O.T. project aesthetically pursues the artistic research from the metaphor of submersion. In this direction, the project explores inherited seas-and-oceans-oriented myths, simultaneously revisiting a series of theatre plays with a marine backdrop (1) and looking at the metaphorical use of nautical vocabulary, sea imagery, and meteorological analogies as a dramatic illustration of computational realities. Drawing on a cross-disciplinary methodology, based on environmental and media hybridity, the whole project seeks to contribute to changing human-inhuman political ecologies by triggering affective formations and opening imaginaries on the heterogeneous contemporary condition. It aims at generating art and research pieces within a new temporal ecology of the stage by examining how the very infrastructures of “ theatre-making”, might shake, possibly collapse, and then transition and reform within such a multi-agential dynamic of emergence. It proposes to revisit and reset western theatre mythological foundations by forming an alternative pantheon for a queer, aquafeminist and technoanimist reset of the “tragic”, at the intersection of a syncretic (Greek/Scandinavian/Basque/Japanese) marine mythology (2) and the ambiguities of “technology-as-monster” narratives. In the project, the simultaneous forces, and fragilities, of the transforming marine ecosystems meet the growing algorithmic-conditioned life and the crossbreeding of diverse art disciplines and research fields in order to make appear, flickering, fluent, and nebular scenographies, maybe seanographies, as imaginary prototypes for the societal constructions to come.
(1) REFERENCE PLAYS: Philoctetes, SOPHOCLES, 409 BC / Iphigenia in Aulis, EURIPIDES, 405 BC / The Tempest, William SHAKESPEARE, 1610 / Phèdre (Phaedra), Jean RACINE, 1677 / L’île des esclaves (Slave Island), Pierre de MARIVAUX a.k.a. MARIVAUX, 1725 / Fruen fra havet (The Lady from the Sea), Henrik IBSEN, 1888/ Le soulier de satin (The Satin Sleeper), Paul CLAUDEL, 1929 / Embers, Samuel BECKETT, 1957 / The Sea, Edward BOND, 1973 / L’Eden Cinéma, Marguerite DURAS, 1977 / Une Tempête (A Tempest), Aimé Césaire, 1979 I Am The Wind, Jon Fosse, 2007
(2) REFERENCE SEA MYTHS/MONSTERS: Amphitrite (Greece) / The Oceanides/Aallottaret (Greece/Finland) / Iku-Turso (Finland) / The Kraken (Scandinavia) / Itxaslaminak (Basque Country) / Hanzaki Daimyōjin (Japan)
Research affiliation: Visiting postdoctoral researcher in the Performing Arts Research Centre at Theatre Academy at the University of the Arts of Helsinki (1.1.2021-31.12.2024)