Weidong Yang is a physicist who invented a method to detect movement as fine as a tenth of an atom. With Kinetech, a collective of artists and scientists he assembled earlier this year, Yang works on a human scale, drawing on years of martial arts and dance training and performance, as well as his skills as an engineer, to produce a tactile and visual experience inspired by fluid dynamics, quantum mechanics, entropy, fractal noise, and infinite loops.
Combining technological contributions by Florian Hoenig, Sachin Deshpande, and Marc Fawzi, and choreography by Bay Area favorites Daiane Lopes da Silva and Karla Quintero, Kinetech presents Open Lab--Sensory Awakening May 20-21 at KUNST-STOFF arts with three modes of aesthetic experimentation: Mosaic, Rag Doll, and Flo, each built of codes, projections, and dancers in motion.
The logic behind each piece bears resemblances to the philosopher's thought experiment: Suppose, as in Rag Doll, a dancer were placed in a box with another being, neither sentient nor quite inanimate, programmed to attempt to stand using a random array of joints and forces -- at what point would they have collectively touched every point in the box? In Flo, suppose that instead of gypsum, plaster, and paper, a wall were made of a liquid that lit up like phosphorescent algae when touched into an agitated state -- what kind of environment could be created if there were more than one foci of agitation? What if the distance between points were limited by the length of the human body? What if the bodies were to work together?
If, as Mosaic tries to demonstrate, a body is discrete in itself but consists of parts of other bodies, how can a whole be achieved? Still, rather than succumb to purely clinical inquiry, the choreography by Lopes da Silva and Quintero explores the technological jungle gym while remaining grounded in feelings of love, community, and loss.
Kinetech aims to bring together the different languages of computer engineers and artists: one abstract and logical, the other visual, intuitive, and corporeal. However, Yang explains that there has never been a separation between the artistic and scientific modes of discovery in his own work: "My experience of research is very intuitive. You see the light first, then find a way."
At the same time, it's no surprise that tech collaborator Hoenig, who built the software for Rag Doll and Flo, is also a video game developer. As with any interdisciplinary project, Kinetech is about connection and cooperation, but importantly it is also about unexpected moments of beauty and humor that emerge through improvisation and play. Following the performance, audience members are invited to experience the installations first hand.
Kinetech presents Open Lab--Sensory Awakening as part of the KUNST-STOFF arts fest at 8:30 May 20-21 in the KUNST-STOFF arts underground Basement Studio, 1 Grove St., S.F. Tickets are $10; go to kunst-stoffarts.eventbrite.com