Work in Development | April 3 - 14, 2017
Bill Shannon comes to MANCC as a Visiting Artist for his first residency to develop Touch Update, which combines movement, wearable projection technology and video installation to explore the significant and often subtle implications of physical human contact in the digital era. The project dissects and dismantles the multiple online identities we create in order to offer the world a curated window into our lives—a version that masks and manipulates our lived experience.
As part of the creation process, Shannon stages performances in public spaces that are observed by a handful of “artist witnesses” who then document the experience through their creative lenses. These responses are shared as unique documents that replace the ubiquitous “proof” of digital photography and disrupt the primacy of video as an immutable form of record.
On stage, dancers inhabit sculptural fragmentations of themselves, breaking out via text messages and emoticons in search of an exquisite embrace. Cubist-inspired wearable video masks present the performers’ pre-recorded and scripted faces, as real emotions are expressed beneath—digital identities overlaid on “real" life. Embedded in technology, the performers reveal their yearning to connect, as a choreography emerges in which bodies learn to navigate mobility in the absence of apparatus.
For over 27 years, Shannon has been creating groundbreaking choreographies of personal, political and cultural significance by exploring the social constructions that surround disabled bodies, and developing movement techniques that formulate virtuosic new mobilities. He also has a noted history of examining and experimenting with urban art forms through translating them into theatrical contexts, inventing audience solutions to protect them in their naturally occurring street environs and mixing them with circus arts.
Touch Update will premiere at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in Pittsburgh, PA in 2018.