DANCE MACHINE

installation  play dialogue

64 pieces of bamboo are suspended from a central copper disk and can be moved independently by artists and audience members to create an immersive experience.

ma·chine
məˈSHēn/
noun
1. an apparatus consisting of interrelated parts with separate functions, used in the performance of some kind of work
2. a mechanical apparatus or contrivance; mechanism
3. a device that transmits or modifies force or motion.

INSTALLATION
Dance Machine is a kinetic sculpture that can be transformed into multiple configurations by the actions and movement of the bodies within it.

DIALOGUE
In each place, before the Dance Machine is open to the public, a diverse group of artists gather in the Dance Machine to play, converse and develop a Manifesto of Relations - a set of principles that will govern how artists can relate to each other, to the environment and to the public. These conversations include a meeting with an elder or representative of the indigenous nation or people on whose territory the Dance Machine stands: this is an invitation to consider the history of the land from an indigenous point of view. The Manifesto forms the basis for subsequent encounters with other artists and expands as the Dance Machine journeys from one place to another.
 

PLAY
The public is invited to enter: share tasks, play, rest and converse with a small group of artists who act as hosts, guides and facilitators. An embodied experience that has the potential to inspire deep rest as well as mindful play, the Dance Machine can also simply, be a beautiful dynamic object to witness from multiple perspectives. Both artists and public are guided by a simple set of “instructions” that open up to many possibilities. They are:
 

Change shape
Use what is there
Occupy centre
Relinquish centre
Value the marginal
Find rhythm
Don’t be a jerk

 

Dance Machine began in 2009 as an exchange, a conversation between myself and Paris-based designer Alexandra Bertaut, about the energetic relationship between the body, objects and matter. It has evolved, through a long period of wide-ranging research into the body and its relationship to objects and machines, into an exploration on ceremony and what that might entail.

It is also part of a larger consideration on place and belonging. I was born in Malaysia, a former British colony with a complicated set of socio-political realities. When I immigrated to Canada in 1988, these complexities were then juxtaposed onto the complexity of Canada, with its history of settler-colonial oppression, its history of displacement of indigenous peoples from their land and culture. As an immigrant, I confront and grapple with my role in the settler-colonial machine. In my recent works, my focus has simply been: how to acknowledge who we are and where we are - how to embed this acknowledgement in all the works in a way that is unique and coherent to each work, so that this acknowledgement becomes part of the protocol of making work here in the Americas. This continues to be my concern with Dance Machine, and I am interested in inviting others - artists and the public - into a dialogue about how the history in our bodies encounter the history of where we are.

Dance Machine posits dance-making as a communal process: dancing as an act of being together - woven into the fabric of labour, rest and play. It also puts into question the notion of authorship and creative territory: asking when a work stops being mine and becomes another’s. It invites others - artists and public alike - into a conversation about what dance is, what dance can be and what dance can speak to. It invites them into a conversation around issues that concern me – philosophically, politically and aesthetically.

Dance Machine is an attempt at expressing my body through the construction of a set/costume rather than through an orthodox “dance”-making i.e. making gesture and movement. It remains “choreography” because it deals with time, space and the human body – both mine, and others. As an extension of myself, it must contain principles that matter to me and yet must be open to ideas of others. - Lee Su-Feh
 

Produced by battery opera performance
Co-producer: Festival Trans-Amériques
Conceived by Lee Su-Feh
Designed by Jesse Garlick
Assisted by Justine Chambers
Guest artists: TBA according to site and context.