multimedia performance

The Mirror Has Six Billion Faces

Multimedia Dance Theater Performance, at the Performática Festival, Peubla, Mexico, 2009, and at the Redfield Theater, University of Nevada Reno, 2009.

The Mirror Has Six Billion Faces was a collaboration with Kristin Heavey, Artistic Director of Element Dance Theater, and the dancers Cari Cunningham and Rick Southerland. It was inspired by the article How the Mind Works: Revelations, by Israel Rosenfield and Edward Ziff, published in the New York Review of Books. The article discussed mirror neurons:

“The importance of body image and motor activity for perception, physical movement, and thought is suggested by the recent discovery of ‘mirror neurons’ by Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues. They observed that the neurons that fired when a monkey grasped an object also fired when the monkey watched a scientist grasp the same object. The monkey apparently understood the action of the experimenter because the activity within its brain was similar when the monkey was observing the experimenter and when the monkey was grasping the object. What was surprising was that the same neurons that produced ‘motor actions,’ i.e., actions involving muscular movement, were active when the monkey was perceiving those actions performed by others.”


In the performance, the two dancers mirrored and refracted each others’ movements. A large video projection both showed prior footage of the dancers’ bodies, their symmetry tweaked by interlacing the image with its own flipped reflection, and live footage of the dancers, interlaced so that at times the two bodies seemed to inhabit each other.


The Mapping Project

Multimedia Dance Theater Performance and Art Installation, at CounterPULSE, 2008.

A performance created in collaboration with Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater, Element Dance Theater, and artist Ilya Noé, staged as part of the San Francisco International Art Festival. The Mapping Project included video projection, animation, live music, and an exhibition of digital prints. The theme of the performance was the involuntary crossing of borders. Half of the dancers enacted images culled from stories from their grandparents, who suffered various displacements from the Second World War; the other half played out scenes of contemporary migration, making border crossings into shadow economies. The stage was dominated by a sculptural aluminum house, which was assembled, moved about, taken apart and reconfigured over the course of the performance.

My contributions included the creation of animation and digital projection, introducing staging and performance ideas, interviewing the dancers, creating and exhibiting digital prints based on those interviews, and running the projections for the live show.

Below is the text from one of the dancer interviews (it accompanied the print in the gallery above showing the screaming child with the elongated neck):

My family lived in Frankfurt while it was being bombed. There was an air raid and the family went down to go to the shelter. But my dad, he was about seven, he didn’t want to go. He got absolutely hysterical about it, screaming that he didn’t want to go. They gave up, and went back to their house. And found out, the next day, that the shelter had suffered a direct hit. Everyone in it had died. Dad doesn’t like to talk about this. Whenever Oma talked about it, her voice would get full of emotion, quivering, almost crying. That seemed to be one of the reasons Dad didn’t like to bring up the war – it would make Oma very emotional. He didn’t want us to learn German.

I didn’t understand all the implications. I knew my grandfather was in the army, but Oma said he wasn’t in the Nazi army, he was in the “other” army. It wasn’t until much later, somehow this came up with my boyfriend, who was Jewish. I told him my Opa was in the other army, and he said “Anna, there was no other army.” And a little light went off in my head.