McLuhan, Coupland, Jaynes. Why did you choose these authors as a point of departure for your new creation?
I became reacquainted with McLuhan in 2011, when I read his biography written by Douglas Coupland, “You Know Nothing of My Work!” I was intrigued by the context in which McLuhan, who came from a family of pioneers and grew up in an isolated city in Western Canada, developed his revolutionary theories on media. He was able to synthesize a complex new media environment, the explosion of tele- vision, telephone, radio and the huge on-slot and power of the media after WWII, and warn society of the implications that media might have on everyday life. He used aphorisms like “suicidal auto amputation” to describe the numbing effect of the electronic age. He predicted that the proliferation of electronic media would cast itself like a web over the globe, creating a “Global Village” and virtually extending our “central nervous systems” worldwide.
In effect, he predicted the Internet 25 years before its application.
Coupland was also born in the west of Canada, a place in search of identity, of extremes, of dreams, and utopian ideals. Coupland’s subjects became the middle-middle class, the Hollywood phenomenon, and suburbia. His essays on Brentwood, the Los Angeles suburb where Marilyn Monroe is buried and where O.J. Simpson’s wife was murdered, became an inspiration. The existence of these suburbs hinges on a false reality: the gated community, a safe, comfortable cocoon for the nuclear family, a perfect, clean and artificial environment, the image of a private Garden of Eden sold to middle-class Americans by spinners of dreams. A new generation was born out of these suburbs, lost in the “supersaturated information age” as Coupland put it. Generation X became the subject of his tales for an accelerated culture.
The work of Julian Jaynes entered later in my research for SOMETIME BETWEEN NOW AND WHEN THE SUN GOES SUPERNOVA. Jaynes’ thesis inves- tigates the origin of consciousness and its relationship to culture from an anthropological and psychological point of view.
What are the subjects that interest you in this investigation?
I am interested in the hybridization of identities and how culture shapes who we are. I am also interested in the old world/new world clash that exists very strongly in the American west.
I am from Calgary, a city that has only existed for a little over 100 years. The Native American Blackfoot population previously inhabited and lived off the land in their traditional ways for10 000 years. In less than 50 years an entire way of life changed: the land was cultivated and re-populated, the bison were exterminated, and the aboriginal populations were settled onto reserves. This colonization was brutally enforced with the intention of man’s total domination over the environment. There is fervor for “the new” in the west that is ferocious, a seemingly willful drive to erase history.
The phenomenon of the “suburb” – a continuation of the colonization of land based on utopian ideals – has developed at an alarming rate under the false pretense of the “American Dream”, propagated by marketing and mass consumption. It is terrifying to think that the suburban ideology reflects a majority position in much of the western world today. We live in a protected bubble, a world of illusions, a beautiful safe and empty box. And this illusion has become reality. Through my artistic practice and creating live performance, I am interested in breaking through this particular organization of reality.
What is your relationship to the actors and dancers as you create on stage?
I love the theatre because it is alive and ephemeral. The presence of an actor, of a musician, or of a dancer live on stage, is a reminder that we have a body. The presence of the performer that breathes in front of us is powerful, vital, and radical. I am working on embodied and disembodied consciousnesses by exploring the differences between live presences and presences manipulated through media. It is a work on disappearance, appearance, and displacement or the corporal self.
How does the universe that you describe translate to the scenography of your work?
I often imagine scenography before I start to write. For SOMETIME BETWEEN NOW AND WHEN THE SUN GOES SUPERNOVA, I started with the idea of a suburban landscape-a perfectly manicured neon green lawn, a resemblance of nature, without the weeds. I wanted to play with interior and exterior space simultaneously so, for example, the lawn extends into the living room. There is a BBQ and a refrigerator in the same space, both symbols of middle class consumption. Then I wanted to create a sense of isolation and disconnection, a sort of island, which manifested itself in an abandoned film-set. The action is watched live and on screen, all is being recorded, reality and fiction are blurred. The performance space fragments and reconfigures itself, a sort of observatory where everyone is permanently on stage.