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Action Research

‘IF’: Planning, Research and Co-creation of an Existential Installation-performance

See full art and science research article: https://sciendo.com/article/10.2478/hsy-2019-0005#

ABSTRACT: In her article “‘IF’: Planning, Research and Co-creation of an Existential Installa-tion-performance” Rita Sebestyén offers an account of the research period and perfor-mances of the experimental, action-research based and interdisciplinary performance ‘IF’. The installation-performance was co-created by a group of Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Hungarian artists, and conceived and produced for an international au-dience. ‘IF’ poses a series of existential questions throughout four interactive installa-tions that allow the audience to interact and become co-creators of the performance, together with the performer-facilitator. Using biology, anthropology, mathematics, elements of gamification, sociology and futurology, this performance is a cross-dis-ciplinary and cross-genre experience, and its research cycles are of both scientific and artistic interest, as the author points it out. Keywords: art and science, performative pedagogy, gamification, co-creation, action research.

Photo by: Stine Ebbesen

IF is a cross-over genre: a participative performance using four interac-tive installations that invite the audience into different levels of action and interaction, by choosing life-circumstances: gender, lifespan, friends, relations, society and future. A performer leads the whole game of ex-istence, orientating the audience among the rules of the games; reacts and responds to their actions, and, at well-defined moments, acts out roles related to the four stages-installations. The stages are construct-ed around four different algorithms, which gradually lead the audience from strict rules to choices, this way giving the opportunity to them to take the performance over, step by step. Participants can choose at each stage the level of their activity from watching to acting, and can de-cide on the gender, lifespan, personal characteristics. They receive small human figures as avatars to represent their game-selves in this parallel world. In this specific space, the audience and the performer, even the light- and sound designer can freely mingle, without being confined by the classical partition of stage and auditorium. The first stage is a small laboratory: a microscope placed on a white glass table and connected to a computer. The samples placed under the microscope can be observed magnified on the screen of the computer. The second stage is a min-iature garden on a big size round mirror: soil, small stones, water and plants can be placed and arranged on it. Later on, the five-six centime-tres tall human figures will be placed here. The third stage seems to be a playground with five societal hardships, written in chalk on the ground, which, during the performance, will come alive similarly to a manipu-lative TV-show, with red and white elastic lightbulbs. The fourth stage is a transparent plastic cube, filled with water. Here, at the end of the game-performance, the participants will decide how and who can be saved from the former hardships and go towards the hope of smoother waves. We provide the audience with a set of rules at each stage to build a parallel identity, community, society, and their own interwoven nar-ratives. The performer oscillates between the role of an actor and that of a facilitator. From this phase we started researching together with various audiences. Due to the multitude of artistic and scientific fields included in our work, in the following I will refer exclusively to prima-ry literature. Further description proceeds along the following steps: 1) Research environment concerning venue, community, terminology and the text of the performance, 2) Research method including planning, action and evaluation and finally, 3) The outlook towards a new episte-mology of collaborative performances.

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