Christopher Knowlton

How can movement computing capture social movements, particularly as civic action begins to take place in digital space? How does internet activism translate to the physical world? Chicago-based Erica Mott Productions’ “Mycelial: Street Parliament” is an immersive performance installation that examines social movements, civic participation and interconnectedness in the digital age. This project is a multi-year interdisciplinary exchange between Egyptian and American artists and scientists. Sentiment analysis of relevant social media feeds during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and Occupy Wall Street movement decomposed both uprisings into 18 days of five basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, sadness and surprise. This data was then recomposed into five emotive soundscapes, emerging from our composers’ deep exchanges about each culture’s associations to sound. Dancers and audience create the sound score in real-time as they trigger infrared cameras mapped with these soundscapes. A custom-designed mobile app prompts and guides the audience, democratizing the performance and gamifying viewers into their own choreography. As part of our outreach, exhibition and performances, an interactive booth allows people to create a “movement tweet”. This five-second silhouetted movement response can overlay and interact with a library of other tweets, weaving together these individual threads into a larger digital choreographic conversation. These movement tweets are also projected into the space overlaying the live bodies and choreography. Ultimately, “Mycelial” strives to use technology to create an embodied experience that conflates corporeal movements with social movements, one that returns us to kinesthetic empathy where the artistic practice can serve as cultural diplomacy.

-Christopher Knowlton, Erica Mott Productions

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