The Avatar Condition

An UngaTur performance piece in collaboration with Interacting Arts

There is no audience.
There are no actors.
The Avatar Condition is something else.
Discover who you become when someone else makes your decisions.

The Avatar Condition is an invitation to being controlled. To act without having to make decisions. Through headphones, you are instructed to move, speak and act – collectively and individually. You don’t need any prior knowledge to participate. A voice will guide you through the piece, which takes place as much in your own head as it does in the space.

The Avatar Condition has been developed in Stockholm, Malmö, Västerås and Copenhagen during the last year. December 8-11 of 2011, The Avatar Condition takes over the Stockholm Theatre Turteatern.

Where will it go next? Maybe to a black box, dance studio, abandoned industrial building or inhabited villa close to you…

Take a decision to give up your freedom of choice! Bring us over and try out The Avatar Condition.

By: Albin Werle, Ebba Petrén, Elize Arvefjord, Gabriel Widing, Kerstin Weimers, Klara Backman, Moa Backman and Tova Gerge.

  • Duration: 90 min
  • Capacity: 18 guests/show
  • Contact and tech rider:

Staged Larceny – stealing attempt at Baltic Circle Festival

Last week I had the oppurtunity to go to Helsinki to make a performance together with Pekko Koskinen from Reality Research Center. It was performed at the Baltic Circle Festival under the title Staged Larceny:

This operation attempts to steal the fabric of one performance to create another. The theft is conjured by you, our assistants in this crime of fiction.

In order to perform this theft, we reframe our target, a piece called more than enough by Doris Uhlich, kidnapping it to a different context. With the frame we build, the piece will have connotations beyond itself, reasons that stem from our fabrications and falsehoods. In other words: we will lie and you will interpret.

The work consisted of three parts. A briefing, the “theft” and a debrief. Here are a couple of photos by Tani Simberg from the briefing.

The briefing consisted of a few diffrent parts. Here is an excerpt:

We will be entering the territory of this performance disguised as typical “spectators”. Now, what is a spectator? Spectator is a observatory being that operates near performances, staying mostly still and silent, thus making itself less noticeable — a spectral ghost, of a sort. From this, nearly invisible position, they observe and consume things such as performances. They also serve as cultural shields against the eruptions of performances — a buffer between the rawness of performance, and the regularity of everyday life.

To extract valuables from the performance, we will blend into a group of spectators hovering nearby in this territory. We will now show you the basics of spectating, to help you to blend in. You’ve already tried to sit on a chair in a spectatorial manner. But of course, there is a great variety of postures for such sitting.

We have chosen 5 basic postures to have a closer look at, if you can switch between them during the operation you will be fine. Please copy our movement.

Neutral – Hands on your knees. Not to much space between your knees.
Streched – If you are losing interest but want to keep it. Stretch your back and neck.
Forward leaning – When you have interest. Get support from your elbows. Put your hands together.
Backward leaning – When you get too comfortable or bored. (Go Sceptical by drossing your arms over the chest)
Uncomfortable – always shifting position, crossing legs, looking here and there.

The briefing was reinforced during the performance by a deck of cards consisting of text with questions and instructions. The card deck worked as a tool for exploration, to enable a “search for valuable fragments: moments in time, details of senses, peculiar thoughts”.

Here are a few examples of cards:

  • Discreetly mirror some of the movements happening on stage.
  • Concentrate on listening rather than looking.
  • Relax to the point that you might fall asleep.
  • How would it be to see this performance in your living room, kitchen or toilet?
  • Why are you here? What brought you into this situation?

The cards worked to produce alienation as well as engagement in the performance at stage. In the first iteration we had statement cards as well but they didn’t really make sense when we put them in use.

We tried two different ways to end our staged “theft” after the stolen performance was over, but non of them really worked out in a good way.

All in all it was interesting to attend the festival and try to play around a bit with the audience position.

Avatarerna kommer till Turteatern

Nu i veckan börjar vi jobba med verket Avatarvaro på Turteaterns stora scen. Det är ett gästspel av UngaTur och Interacting Arts. Verket består av ljudinstruktioner som navigerar besökarna i ett specialbyggt rum. Projektets konstnärliga idé har växt fram i samarbete mellan Tova Gerge, Ebba Petrén, Albin Werle, Gabriel Widing och alla de testgrupper, spelare och avatarer som vi träffat under det dryga år som projektet pågått. Med avatarer menar vi de personer som tar emot ljudinstruktioner och utför dem.

Verket har utarbetats genom speltest i bland annat Stockholm, Malmö och Västerås. Teaterhögskolan i Malmö har också ett finger med i spelet eftersom Ebba arbetar med det här projektet i sitt kanditdatarbete från kursen TTP.

Vi har tillsammans med våra speltestare utvecklat instruktioner som framkallar det tillstånd vi kallar “avatarvaro”: en känsla av koncentration i uppgivandet av det egna initiativet. Detta tillstånd kan vara både njutbart och kusligt att vara i. Avatarvaron skapar en behaglig och stark känsla av ansvarsfrihet. När två avatarer möts uppstår en märklig relation eftersom ingen av dem styr situationen eller vet vad som kommer att hända härnäst.

Många av oss som testat att uppleva världen i avatarvaro känner av tydliga gränser för avatarvaron. För oss som konstnärer har arbetet därför handlat mycket om att hitta rätt känsla i instruktionerna. När instruktionerna talar för mycket till en själv eller när kontrollen över ens kropp blir för stor så slutar vi känna oss som avatarer. Men vilka känner vi oss som då?

Verket Avatarvaro handlar om motsägelsen i att längta efter både frihet och tydlighet samtidigt. När är vi inte “oss själva”? Vilka röster är det som talar genom dem vi möter? Och vilka röster talar genom våra egna kroppar? Vilken politisk agens kan vi få genom att erkänna den njutning som det innebär att vara utelämnad till andra?

Vi hoppas verket kan förmedla några av de upplevelser, känslor och tankar som vi haft under speltesten.

Ta ett beslut om att ge upp din valfrihet! Kom hit och testa Avatarvaro.

/Tova, Ebba, Gabriel