REMOTE CONTROL TOMATO / THOMAS BELL, CHRISTINA DEROOS
“Con(text)” was created as a site-specific work tackling the subjects of conformity, privacy and surveillance. The performance, presented during a residency at AS220, included 20 feet of video projections, two sonic stations, a live DJ, a dancer, a musician/performance artist, a visualist/performance artist and a performance artist. There was also a 2-channel video projection pulled from five live feed cameras and a selection of pre-recorded visuals mixed in real-time through Isadora, as well as two sonic stations that included a laptop with Ableton Live and a Microkorg synthesizer through a delay pedal.
Participants were required to be individually processed into the performance, completing conformity steps such as waiting in line, filling out paperwork, receiving a photo ID and signing a waiver. The sterile feeling of the processing room, with pre-recorded announcements and slow, irrelevant video scenes, was the direct opposite of the detached lounge where participants were sent post-processing to enjoy a live DJ and a dance party vibe.
All participants were then returned to the first room for two performance scenes. “Airplane” mixed pre-recorded videos of transportation vehicles with audio samples, all triggered in real-time. The scene ended with a screaming saxophone sonically forcing the dancer to the ground and ejecting her from the room, with a backdrop of viral images of cops pepper spraying protesters. “Con(text)” began with a visual and sonic mix of talking political leaders and news shows and ended with a musician conducting participants through a recitation of advertising slogans and into a frenzied message of gibberish. Participants then returned to the lounge for an intermission.
During intermission, participants were instructed to return to their processing paperwork to complete the “Privacy Is” statement. One at a time, individuals were selected to return to the performance room by a male performer dressed in a hazardous materials suit and with a surveillance camera attached to his helmet. The first room now projected images from multiple surveillance cameras that had been set up in the lounge, plus from the helmet camera.
Upon reentry, participants surrendered their written “Privacy Is” responses, which were read aloud to the room and projected onto the wall. One by one, participants realized their movements had been watched by the performers and by all audience members who were brought in previously. After all the participants’ privacy had been ignored, the performance ended with “Crapitalism,” a multimedia performance exploring the distance between the myth of the “American Dream” and the truth of colonialism, oppression and disaster capitalism.