By most accounts, the Holocene is our current geological epoch, which started at the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago. However, many argue that we are actually now living in the “Anthropocene” epoch, and have been since the industrial revolution began at the end of the 19th century. Anthropocene advocates suggest human development is quantifiably affecting our climate at a rate measured previously only on a geologic timeline, and thus this period deserves new “epoch” status.
Holoscenes is a public performance and series of multi-platform artworks that embody the trauma of flooding, as well as a cross-disciplinary research initiative supported by a global community Scouts driven by the concern that our troubled relationship to water will become the central issue of the 21st century.
The project directly connects the everyday actions of individuals to global climate change, while contemplating the evolution of our capacities for empathy and long-term thinking.
Presented in public space, the centerpiece of Holoscenes is a trio of large aquariums Aquariums that flood, drain, and flood again. Each flooding aquarium is inhabited by a performer conducting an everyday behavior Everyday Behaviors sourced from collaborators near 52 locations across the planet Everyday Behavior Origin Map.
“Aquariums have always been a personal fascination and touchstone for me — their fabricated ecologies and the spatial anachronism they embody, facilitated by a transparent but physical membrane, marries two natural systems that, for me, parallel the thin surface between real and dream space. I have imagined their aquatic ambassadors peering through their windows to imagine us on the outside as the entertainment, the imprisoned, the dreamed.”—Lars Jan
The floods occur within a trio of large aquariums that fill and drain with water at varying speeds, while performers inside them struggle to complete choreography based on documentation of everyday behaviors Everyday Behaviors collected from collaborators near 52 randomly-selected locations across the globe. As water fills each tank at varying speeds, the performers swim to the top for air and then dive below to carry on. As the water drains, the performers continue, soaked by these mini-floods that soon will rise again.
A custom-designed hydraulic system responds to real-time, global environmental data, determining the variable — and occasionally violent — water patterns coursing through the aquariums.
Lasting twenty-four hours a day for seven days, accessible to both invited viewers and unsuspecting passers-by, Holoscenes transcends mere event-status, occupying urban public space as a metaphoric, visual statement seeking to inspire an uncanny awakening in the minds of audiences, transforming the “popular attraction” into a meditation on the complex systems only illusorily beyond our control, and responsibility.
A remarkable run of devastating floods in
New York New Jersey the American gulf coast the American midwest northern Pakistan Nigeria India Malaysia Indonesia Japan the Maldives Central Europe Canada Korea Ethiopia Sumatra Mozambique Namibia Benin Angola the UK West Africa China Colombia Australia Brazil Thailand
have lost the veil of aberration and instead have assumed the mantle of the norm. These, and coming, floods are the inspiration for Holoscenes and the global nature of this collaboration.
At the core of Holoscenes is a semi-open source research initiative that will collect everyday behaviors from around the world. Everyday behaviors are therapeutic, repeated actions practiced alone. These behaviors can be sacred or secular. For example: shaving, trimming flowers, making tea, practicing Tai Chi, writing, running, washing dishes, drumming, flying a kite.
Through repetition, these everyday behaviors performed in aquariums flooded and flooding will conjure past and coming environmental tragedies, gaining a poetry of motion as studies in adaptation and persistence, as well as catastrophe.
We are currently recruiting a team of everyday behavior scouts through cascading chains of personal connection and an online open-source submission process, to identify and gather documentation of everyday actions from 52 randomly-determined global locations.
Each scout will travel as close to the geographic coordinate in question, and document—through video, photography, and / or a written description—an everyday behavior of an individual they meet in the immediate vicinity. The creative team will use this documentation as the source material for the choreography as well as costume and object design of the performers within the aquariums.
Scouts will follow a defined protocol in order to identify, document, and share the practices they encounter. Finding behaviors will often require and depend upon social connections, personal relations, and spontaneous interactions. Scouts must be adventurous, flexible, and outgoing. The action could be in public or private space, so the conversation may lead to travel to another place nearby, such as this person’s home.
There is no financial compensation for collaboration, or reimbursement for any costs incurred. There are no contracts. All exchanges are based on good will and a spirit of creative collaboration on global issues. All collaborators will have their pictures and a short biography included on the Holoscenes website and in a printed edition, and have the distinction of being part of this creative team working across the globe.
This semi-randomized gathering process recognizes the indiscriminate impact of global climate change on all geography and human culture; de-prioritizes catastrophic events as a lens through which to view distant locations; and alludes to the colonialist capture and representation of specimens (both animal and man) for imperial menageries, cabinets of curiosity, zoos, aquariums, natural history diorama, and other public entertainments. We embrace the complicated and problematic nature of this process because we believe working on a global scale— across national, cultural and linguistic barriers—is inherently imperfect and yet necessary to build new kinds of communities addressing issues of this urgency and magnitude.
Lars Jan is a director, designer, writer and media artist, and founding artistic director of Early Morning Opera, a multidisciplinary art lab based in Los Angeles specializing in live performance. His recent multimedia performance/installation, ABACUS, was commissioned by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC; Troy, NY). ABACUS premiered at EMPAC’s inaugural Filament Festival (2010) and was presented by the 2012 Sundance Film Festival (Park City) and REDCAT (Los Angeles). Jan’s original projects have been commissioned and presented by The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and many other venues in the US. The son of first generation émigrés from Afghanistan and Poland, Jan is committed to international artistic exchange. Jan is a 2013 TED Senior Fellow.
Geoff Sobelle is a Philadelphia-based theatre artist dedicated to the "sublime ridiculous." He is the co-artistic director of rainpan 43, a renegade absurdist outfit devoted to creating and touring original actor-driven performance works. R43's shows include: all wear bowlers, Amnesia Curiosa, the rube-goldberg-inspired kinetic junk play machines machines machines machines machines machines machines and the upcoming magic spectacular, Elephant Room (commissioned by Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles). He has been an active company member of Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company since 2001. Geoff's independent work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, US Artists International, the Wyncote Foundation, the Independence Foundation and the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. His work has received an Innovative Theatre Award, a Drama Desk nomination (all wear bowlers) an OBIE award for design (machines machines machines machines machines machines machines), and an Edinburgh Fringe First Award (Flesh and Blood & Fish and Fowl). Geoff received a 2006 Pew Fellowship in the Arts as a performance artist and is a 2009 Creative Capital grantee. He is a graduate of Stanford University, and trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France.
Check Kirivong is a dedicated and driven leader in the field of engineering and project management with a passion for design and the ability to get a job done well. Currently, he is a project manager overseeing design and construction services for various water/wastewater projects in the Washington DC Metro Area. Prior to his current role, Check was a Project Manager at WET where he managed the development of landmark water feature experiences. In addition to counseling architects, engineers, and designers, he also served as the engineering link between concept design and implementation. During his time at WET, he was directly involved with iconic water features including Columbus Circle in New York City and The Dubai Fountain in Dubai, UAE. He also led the team from design through opening for the water feature at the Harborside Fountain Park development in Bremerton, WA which received the Waterfront Center's 2008 "Excellence on the Waterfront" Award. Prior to joining WET, Check worked in the engineering consultant industry providing a comprehensive range of engineering and project management services on a wide variety of environmental, water and infrastructure projects. Check is a registered engineer in California, Maryland, and Virginia. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from Clemson University. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Pablo N. Molina is an LA and NYC based video, lighting and sound artist. He specializes in emerging technologies and custom software development. His design work has also been seen in numerous exhibitions, theatrical, music, and dance works at venues such as RedCat, BAM, The Wexner Center, Beta Level, the Katmandu International Theater Festival, LACMA, EMPAC, and many others. Most recently his animated video content was prominently featured in Linkin Park, Nickelback, Creed, and A.R. Rahman's world concert tours. He is an associate artist with MODE Studios in Seattle. Pablo also helped initiate the Video for Performance MFA Specialization at the California Institute of the Arts School of Theater, where he teaches.
Chris Kuhl is a lighting, scenic, installation and conceptual designer for new performance, theatre, dance and opera. Recent work includes ABACUS. Early Morning Opera (Sundance Film Festival, EMPAC Troy NY, REDCAT); John Cage Song Books (SF Symphony, Carnegie Hall); The Elephant Room. Rainpan 43 (Philly Live Arts, Arena Stage, St. Ann's Warehouse, Center Theatre Group); Under Polaris. Cloud Eye Control (REDCAT, EXIT Festival Paris, Fusebox Festival Austin); Trembler/Shifter, Watch her not know it now. Meg Wolfe (REDCAT); Tov. Rosanna Gamson. Horton Award. (REDCAT); There is an Elephant in this Dance. Lionel Popkin (REDCAT); Monster. Pappas and Dancers (UCLA); Motherhood Out Loud (Primary Stages, The Geffen); How to Completely Disappear. Ovation Award (Boston Court Theatre); The Author, Eclipsed (Center Theatre Group); Model Behavior, Monster of Happiness. Ovation Award Nomination (Theatre Movement Bazaar); Everyone Who Looks Like You, Uncanny Valley, Undine, My Mind Is Like A Open Meadow, (Hand2Mouth Theatre), Into The Dark Unknown (Holcombe Waller). He was Lighting Director for Ralph Lemon's How Can You Stay In The House All Day And Not Go Anywhere; Victoria Marks' Not about Iraq, and David Rousseve's Saudade. Kuhl has also had the pleasure of working and making art at REDCAT, On the Boards, The Walker, UCLA Live, BAM, Jacob's Pillow, The Krannert Center, YBCA, Portland Center Stage, Hartford Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Beijing Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Queer Zagreb, KVS Belgium, MAC France, Reed College, Columbia College and Duke University. In 2011 Kuhl received Sherwood, Drammy, Horton, and Ovation Awards. He is originally from New Mexico and is a graduate of CalArts.
Blaine O'Neill is a transdisciplinary artist, designer, and activist. He last collaborated with Early Morning Opera on ABACUS at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Jenna has a background in fabricating plumbing and custom components for large scale water features, show control programming, water feature design and engineering, prop and set fabrication, and special effects. She cut her teeth as a project manager working for clients Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan over a decade ago, and since then has continued working in the fountain industry as the president of her own fountain company. She is the Founding Director of the award-winning architecture and landscape research non-profit, Materials & Applications.
Barry A. Farley is an aquatic performance specialist and certified diver with over twenty years of experience. He is a certified AHA CPR instructor and Red Cross EMR trainer. Barry has been the Head of Aquatics at Circque du Soleil's "O" at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas since 2006.
Irina Kruzhilina is a theatre artist, painter, and fashion designer. Her work has been featured at internationally prestigious venues, and she has worked extensively with acclaimed directors and theatre organizations throughout the US and abroad. During the past year, Irina designed set and costumes for Three Graces with Marcy Arlin and Ruth Margraff at the 3-Legged Dog Theatre in New York, for the play Arctic Hysteria by Abi Basch, directed by Else Marie-Lauvik (Odin Theatret) in San Francisco, for the Hudson River Pageant in New York, and was involved in international collaborations including Mirandolina, at the Russian Drama Theatre in Baku, Azerbaijan, and King Lear at the Plovdiv Dramatischen Theatre in Bulgaria with director Stayko Murdjev. Planned collaborations for 2013 include Petrushka with director Doug Fitch for the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall, DAH theatre in Belgrade, Serbia, and Ruth Margraff in Chicago. Irina was the 2007/2009 recipient of the NEA/TCG career development program for designers.
Rick Valicenti is the founder and design director of Thirst/3st, communication design firm devoted to art, function, and real human presence. He has been influencing the design discourse internationally since 1988 and is a leading presence in design as a practitioner, educator, and mentor.
Valicenti was honored by the White House in 2011 with the Smithsonian Cooper‐Hewitt National Design Award for Communication Design. In 2006, he received the AIGA Medal, the highest honor of the graphic design profession, for his sustained contribution to design excellence and the development of the profession, and in 2004, was recognized as an AIGA/Chicago Fellow. Valicenti has been a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) since being invited in 1996.
Peter Zuspan is a founding principal of Bureau V, a New York-based studio that designs innovative architecture and experimental projects ranging from cultural institutions and commercial buildings to performances, installations, and events. Clients and collaborators have included cultural institutions such as the Original Music Workshop and the Montello Foundation, as well as artists and designers such as Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Early Morning Opera, Arto Lindsay, and Mary Ping. Bureau V projects have been exhibited or performed at the Guggenheim Museum, the Venice Biennale of Art, Inhotim, the Sophiensaele, the Performa Biennial, and Los Angeles’s REDCAT Theater. The studio’s projects has received support from Saatchi & Saatchi, the Art Production Fund, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Peter teaches architecture at Columbia University and has taught architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Kentucky’s College of Design. He holds a Bachelors of Arts and Master of Architecture from Columbia University.
Andrew LeClair grew up in New England, with a brief formative stint on an island in the Pacific, where he rode his bike everywhere and watched nuclear missile tests for fun. He received his BA from Swarthmore College, where he wrote his senior thesis on the visual perception of objects suspended in empty space. After graduation, Andrew realized he was as interested in the design of his research as the research itself — and decided to study graphic design. Since coming to RISD, Andrew has worked on a range of self-initiated projects and with startups in Boston MA, The Design Office in Providence RI, and Project Projects in New York NY.
Annie Saunders is a performer, theatermaker, and recreational freediver. Her company, Wilderness, debuted The Day Shall Declare It, a site-responsive, immersive production exploring themes of work, labor and economics at the Bush Theatre in London in 2012. The company will present its latest work, a study of identity and relationship, at REDCAT in 2013.
MAPP International Productions is dedicated to developing sustainable environments for artists to create, premiere and tour performing arts projects. We provide support and opportunities for challenging artistic voices to be fully heard and engaged by bringing together arts, humanities and public dialogue. This means not only placing live work on the stages of performing arts venues worldwide, but also creating opportunities for discussion, learning and civic engagement that encourage appreciation of different cultures and perspectives. We nurture contemporary artists who reside and create in many parts of the world, embracing multidirectional infiltration and invigoration, and contributing to the U.S.'s role as a valued partner in a global creative community.
MAPP is currently seeking lead commissioning partners. For more information, contact:
Co-Director & Producer
MAPP International Productions
The creation of Holoscenes is supported by a grant from The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and by the Panta Rhea Foundation.
Additional research and residency support is provided by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and the Center for the Art of Performance (CAP) at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA.