Mixed Reality Laboratory
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Guest Speaker: Elly Clarke

Mixed Reality Lab Meeting Space
Friday 17th November 2017 (12:00-13:00)
Elly Clarke

Artist Elly Clarke will give a guest talk in the lab about her proposal for a tool to support global, open-source performances.

A Tool for Physical/Digital Machine/Human Collaborative Performances

In collaboration with scientists, technologists and researchers from the Mixed Reality Lab I would like to develop a tool for global, open-source performances to take place that explore and play with the ever-shifting relationship between the physical and digital worlds we occupy and create. I see this this happening through two key methods/outcomes, both of which require tools to faciliate their execution:

1. PERFORM: a large-scale, global, open-source simultaneous performance that people could participate in from wherever they are, in real time. This could involve projection mapping, live-coded musical composition, AI, VR, AR, wearable technologies and holograms alongside, crucially, organic bodies in physical spaces across the globe. This could be a used for a series of pre-designed performances and released as a system or app that others could also use, for their own online/offline performance ideas and output

2. CREATE: a means through which a performance (music, script, choreography) can be collaboratively created by people and machines in different physical spaces, where the production itself becomes part of the performance. For example, a script for a performance written by humans and algorithms, that is open to disruption in real time by other players/performers, that affects the action in real time and makes indiscernible (and irrelevant?) the sense of what or who is where as well as the difference between human and machine action.

This would follow on from work I have been developing over the last few years. Since my undergraduate degree in History of Art at Leeds (1995-8) I have been interested in the impact of the digital upon the physical body and object - and with this identity, in terms of sense of self, sense of body, sense of place, sense of geography and history, which I explore through photography (analogue and digital, screen-grabs and mobile phone pictures), music, performance, portraiture, video, text, curation and participatory projects. Since 2014 I have focussed mostly on developing #Sergina, my drag alter-ego who has become the muse through which I explore this subject of physical/digital presence - through songs she performs, in singular and plural-bodied format, about love and desire in the age of digitalism. In 2015, I was commissioned by The Lowry, Salford Quays (in association with Birmingham Open Media and SHOUT festival) to produce the first edition of my online/offline multi- bodied networked drag performance entitled #Sergina’s Stimulatingly Sexy Simultaneous Simulation of Herself, which took place simultaneously at The Lowry (where I was), and in Belgrade, Berlin, Birmingham and Brooklyn, where #Sergina (plural), dressed identically, dancing to the same choreography and lip-syncing to the same songs, appeared before live and online audiences in each city, linked up and live broadcast via Google Hangout. As far as I know this was the first time such a performance has taken place. Through this performance and way of working I want propose that identity need not be fixed to one organic body, but can be transferable, and to question hierarchies of digital vs. physical presence.At this stage of my career, the chance to work with experts from Mixed Reality Lab at Nottingham would offer an unprecedented opportunity for my practice to develop in directions I want, as well as those I cannot yet see. Since the work I am making relies heavily upon collaboration with, increasingly, people who have different skill-sets from my own, it would be of incredible benefit to be situated within an experimental/academic/technological context that offers this, alongside, of course, access to state-of- the-art facilities, support and space for experimentation.

In a world of distrust and untruths, of too much information and too little, I feel it is crucial to look at our relationship with technology on a personal and political level and to create works that as many people as possible can relate to and recognise - through music, participation and technology. I thrive in an interdisciplinary environment and know that collaboration feeds and challenges my work immensely, whilst the experimental time and space an association with Nottingham would give would be of equal benefit - to me, my work and, I hope, to the lab as well. 

Mixed Reality Laboratory

University of Nottingham
School of Computer Science
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 846 6780
email: mrl@cs.nott.ac.uk