Beyond the Electronic Connection: The Technologically Manufactured Cyber-Human and Its Physical Human Counterpart in Performance: A Theory Related to Convergence Identities
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This thesis is an investigation of the complex processes and relationships between the physical human performer and the technologically manufactured cyber-human counterpart. I acted as both researcher and the physical human performer, deeply engaged in the moment-to-moment creation of events unfolding within a shared virtual reality environment. As the primary instigator and activator of the cyber-human partner, I maintained a balance between the live and technological performance elements, prioritizing the production of content and meaning. By way of using practice as research, this thesis argues that in considering interactions between cyber-human and human performers, it is crucial to move beyond discussions of technology when considering interactions between cyber-humans and human performers to an analysis of emotional content, the powers of poetic imagery, the trust that is developed through sensory perception and the evocation of complex relationships. A theoretical model is constructed to describe the relationship between a cyber-human and a human performer in the five works created specifically for this thesis, which is not substantially different from that between human performers. Technological exploration allows for the observation and analysis of various relationships, furthering an expanded understanding of ‘movement as content’ beyond the electronic connection.
Each of the works created for this research used new and innovative technologies, including virtual reality, multiple interactive systems, six generations of wearable computers, motion capture technology, high-end digital lighting projectors, various projection screens, smart electronically charged fabrics, multiple sensory sensitive devices and intelligent sensory charged alternative performance spaces. They were most often collaboratively created in order to augment all aspects of the performance and create the sense of community found in digital live dance performances/events. These works are identified as one continuous line of energy and discovery, each representing a slight variation on the premise that a working, caring, visceral and poetic content occurs beyond the technological tools. Consequently, a shift in the physical human’s psyche overwhelms the act of performance. Scholarship and reflection on the works have been integral to my creative process throughout.
The goals of this thesis, the works created and the resulting methodologies are to investigate performance to heighten the multiple ways we experience and interact with the world. This maximizes connection and results in a highly interactive, improvisational, dynamic, non-linear, immediate, accessible, agential, reciprocal, emotional, visceral and transformative experience without boundaries between the virtual and physical for physical humans, cyborgs and cyber-humans alike.
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