A cold and alienating dance in a cyborg dystopia


System_Error ★★ ½
Maison des Arts, until July 11

System error is an elusive and often alienating experience, an icy meditation on the transhumanist promise of immortality, bringing together minimalist dance, austere black and white projections and a soundscape of discord and distortion.

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System error combines minimalist dance and austere black and white projections.Credit:Pia johnson

The centerpiece is a large circuit laid out with conductive tape. This is connected to a computer preloaded with music production software designed by multi-talented dancer and choreographer Alisdair Macindoe.

The hall is, indeed, a great musical instrument. Two dancers, dressed in featureless black plastic coveralls, trigger different sounds – some musical and others more atmospheric – as they move through the space, touching the band with their hands and feet.

The work, co-created by Macindoe and Chamber Made Artistic Director Tamara Saulwick, also features interviews and quotes about the incorporation of technology into our bodies and minds, memory, and the mystery of aging. .

Overall, this expresses a sort of stern skepticism about the advisability of merging organic and inorganic systems. What will become of consciousness in the post-flesh techno-utopia? Will cyborg life, or life lived as a digital essence, be some kind of awakened death?

Melanie Huang’s visualizations, which respond in real time to sound peaks, often suggest the colorless austerity of the funeral decor. And lighting designer Amelia Lever-Davidson leaves the stage half in the shade and half in the light.

There are times when the detached, almost anomic aesthetic of System error reflects current anxieties about the loss of connection, but his attention is more often focused on a distant world of prismatic bodies and digitized memories.