Monday, January 19, 2009

Without Risk of Excessive Loss

a performance installation of video, movement, spoken word and sound
in collaboration with artists Elizabeth Leister and Steve Roden
premiered at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA 2007

Without Risk of Excessive Loss

Choreographer Rae Shao-Lan Blum, visual artist Elizabeth Leister and sound artist Steve Roden collaborate in what is an evening length performance installation. The multi-layered performance explores the complex connectivity between evolution, global warming, the human condition and the human footprint.

Without Risk of Excessive Loss, the title is taken from a scientific text on desert plant photosynthesis focuses on the question “as inhabitants of a desert climate, what might we learn about conservation by observing desert ecosystems and how other inhabitants manage to thrive in their conditions?” as its theme.

The piece addresses what we leave behind- the human trace. Plastic bags are a constant presence. They get scattered about the stage, transported by the performers, compressed, bulked up, cradled into the body, thrown about recklessly and stuffed into receptacles that are too small to hold all there is. The plastic bags represent what will remain when we, the human race, are long gone.

One performer talks about the evolution from the ocean to life on land and about coral reefs being the remnants of ancient sea creatures. She talks about biodegradability and the man-made transformation from crude oil to plastic. She becomes the currents of the major seas and the collection of floating trash at the center of each oceanic maelstrom.

The text is sourced from a range of scientific data and provides one layer within the dynamic stream of multimedia. A video projection of a desert location provides the context of a setting, which interacts with the live action on stage. For the duration of the piece, an artist stands at a papered wall upon which the projection is being cast. On this paper, she etches a charcoal drawing of the landscape over the projected landscape.

Steve Roden’s original score provides an environment of sounds that range from melodic drones of human voices to staccato sound layers of electric static. At the end of the piece, the artist steps back from the wall and advances downstage. Dancers retreat, moving in slow-motion unison into the drawing. The light of the projection fades out to reveal remnants of the artist’s drawing and the shadow forms of the moving bodies superimposed.

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