Tag Archives: Electric Company Theatre

September 2019’s science’ish’ events in Toronto and Vancouver (Canada)

There are movies, plays, a multimedia installation experience all in Vancouver, and the ‘CHAOSMOSIS mAchInesexhibition/performance/discussion/panel/in-situ experiments/art/ science/ techne/ philosophy’ event in Toronto. But first, there’s a a Vancouver talk about engaging scientists in the upcoming federal election. .

Science in the Age of Misinformation (and the upcoming federal election) in Vancouver

Dr. Katie Gibbs, co-founder and executive director of Evidence for Democracy, will be giving a talk today (Sept. 4, 2019) at the University of British Columbia (UBC; Vancouver). From the Eventbrite webpage for Science in the Age of Misinformation,

Science in the Age of Misinformation, with Katie Gibbs, Evidence for Democracy
In the lead up to the federal election, it is more important than ever to understand the role that researchers play in shaping policy. Join us in this special Policy in Practice event with Dr. Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, Canada’s leading, national, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization promoting science and the transparent use of evidence in government decision making. A Musqueam land acknowledgement, welcome remarks and moderation of this event will be provided by MPPGA students Joshua Tafel, and Chengkun Lv.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019
12:30 pm – 1:50 pm (Doors will open at noon)
Liu Institute for Global Issues – xʷθəθiqətəm (Place of Many Trees), 1st floor
Pizza will be provided starting at noon on first come, first serve basis. Please RSVP.

What role do researchers play in a political environment that is increasingly polarized and influenced by misinformation? Dr. Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, will give an overview of the current state of science integrity and science policy in Canada highlighting progress made over the past four years and what this means in a context of growing anti-expert movements in Canada and around the world. Dr. Gibbs will share concrete ways for researchers to engage heading into a critical federal election [emphasis mine], and how they can have lasting policy impact.

Bio: Katie Gibbs is a scientist, organizer and advocate for science and evidence-based policies. While completing her Ph.D. at the University of Ottawa in Biology, she was one of the lead organizers of the ‘Death of Evidence’—one of the largest science rallies in Canadian history. Katie co-founded Evidence for Democracy, Canada’s leading, national, non-partisan, and not-for-profit organization promoting science and the transparent use of evidence in government decision making. Her ongoing success in advocating for the restoration of public science in Canada has made Katie a go-to resource for national and international media outlets including Science, The Guardian and the Globe and Mail.

Katie has also been involved in international efforts to increase evidence-based decision-making and advises science integrity movements in other countries and is a member of the Open Government Partnership Multi-stakeholder Forum.

Disclaimer: Please note that by registering via Eventbrite, your information will be stored on the Eventbrite server, which is located outside Canada. If you do not wish to use this service, please email Joelle.Lee@ubc.ca directly to register. Thank you.

Location
Liu Institute for Global Issues – Place of Many Trees
6476 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2

Sadly I was not able to post the information about Dr. Gibbs’s more informal talk last night (Sept. 3, 2019) which was a special event with Café Scientifique but I do have a link to a website encouraging anyone who wants to help get science on the 2019 federal election agenda, Vote Science. P.S. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to post this in a more timely fashion.

Transmissions; a multimedia installation in Vancouver, September 6 -28, 2019

Here’s a description for the multimedia installation, Transmissions, in the August 28, 2019 Georgia Straight article by Janet Smith,

Lisa Jackson is a filmmaker, but she’s never allowed that job description to limit what she creates or where and how she screens her works.

The Anishinaabe artist’s breakout piece was last year’s haunting virtual-reality animation Biidaaban: First Light. In its eerie world, one that won a Canadian Screen Award, nature has overtaken a near-empty, future Toronto, with trees growing through cracks in the sidewalks, vines enveloping skyscrapers, and people commuting by canoe.

All that and more has brought her here, to Transmissions, a 6,000-square-foot, immersive film installation that invites visitors to wander through windy coastal forests, by hauntingly empty glass towers, into soundscapes of ancient languages, and more.

Through the labyrinthine multimedia work at SFU [Simon Fraser University] Woodward’s, Jackson asks big questions—about Earth’s future, about humanity’s relationship to it, and about time and Indigeneity.

Simultaneously, she mashes up not just disciplines like film and sculpture, but concepts of science, storytelling, and linguistics [emphasis mine].

“The tag lines I’m working with now are ‘the roots of meaning’ and ‘knitting the world together’,” she explains. “In western society, we tend to hive things off into ‘That’s culture. That’s science.’ But from an Indigenous point of view, it’s all connected.”

Transmissions is split into three parts, with what Jackson describes as a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like Biidaaban, it’s also visually stunning: the artist admits she’s playing with Hollywood spectacle.

Without giving too much away—a big part of the appeal of Jackson’s work is the sense of surprise—Vancouver audiences will first enter a 48-foot-long, six-foot-wide tunnel, surrounded by projections that morph from empty urban streets to a forest and a river. Further engulfing them is a soundscape that features strong winds, while black mirrors along the floor skew perspective and play with what’s above and below ground.

“You feel out of time and space,” says Jackson, who wants to challenge western society’s linear notions of minutes and hours. “I want the audience to have a physical response and an emotional response. To me, that gets closer to the Indigenous understanding. Because the Eurocentric way is more rational, where the intellectual is put ahead of everything else.”

Viewers then enter a room, where the highly collaborative Jackson has worked with artist Alan Storey, who’s helped create Plexiglas towers that look like the ghost high-rises of an abandoned city. (Storey has also designed other components of the installation.) As audience members wander through them on foot, projections make their shadows dance on the structures. Like Biidaaban, the section hints at a postapocalyptic or posthuman world. Jackson operates in an emerging realm of Indigenous futurism.

The words “science, storytelling, and linguistics” were emphasized due to a minor problem I have with terminology. Linguistics is defined as the scientific study of language combining elements from the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. I wish either Jackson or Smith had discussed the scientific element of Transmissions at more length and perhaps reconnected linguistics to science along with the physics of time and space, as well as, storytelling, film, and sculpture. It would have been helpful since it’s my understanding, Transmissions is designed to showcase all of those connections and more in ways that may not be obvious to everyone. On the plus side, perhaps the tour, which is part of this installation experience includes that information.

I have a bit .more detail (including logistics for the tours) from the SFU Events webpage for Transmissions,

Transmissions
September 6 – September 28, 2019

The Roots of Meaning
World Premiere
September 6 – 28, 2019

Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre
SFU Woodward’s, 149 West Hastings
Tuesday to Friday, 1pm to 7pm
Saturday and Sunday, 1pm to 5pm
FREE

In partnership with SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs and produced by Electric Company Theatre and Violator Films.

TRANSMISSIONS is a three-part, 6000 square foot multimedia installation by award-winning Anishinaabe filmmaker and artist Lisa Jackson. It extends her investigation into the connections between land, language, and people, most recently with her virtual reality work Biidaaban: First Light.

Projections, sculpture, and film combine to create urban and natural landscapes that are eerie and beautiful, familiar and foreign, concrete and magical. Past and future collide in a visceral and thought-provoking journey that questions our current moment and opens up the complexity of thought systems embedded in Indigenous languages. Radically different from European languages, they embody sets of relationships to the land, to each other, and to time itself.

Transmissions invites us to untether from our day-to-day world and imagine a possible future. It provides a platform to activate and cross-pollinate knowledge systems, from science to storytelling, ecology to linguistics, art to commerce. To begin conversations, to listen deeply, to engage varied perspectives and expertise, to knit the world together and find our place within the circle of all our relations.

Produced in association with McMaster University Socrates Project, Moving Images Distribution and Cobalt Connects Creativity.

….

Admission:  Free Public Tours
Tuesday through Sunday
Reservations accepted from 1pm to 3pm.  Reservations are booked in 15 minute increments.  Individuals and groups up to 10 welcome.
Please email: sfuw@sfu.ca for more information or to book groups of 10 or more.

Her Story: Canadian Women Scientists (short film subjects); Sept. 13 – 14, 2019

Curiosity Collider, producer of art/science events in Vancouver, is presenting a film series featuring Canadian women scientists, according to an August 27 ,2019 press release (received via email),

Her Story: Canadian Women Scientists,” a film series dedicated to sharing the stories of Canadian women scientists, will premiere on September 13th and 14th at the Annex theatre. Four pairs of local filmmakers and Canadian women scientists collaborated to create 5-6 minute videos; for each film in the series, a scientist tells her own story, interwoven with the story of an inspiring Canadian women scientist who came before her in her field of study.

Produced by Vancouver-based non-profit organization Curiosity Collider, this project was developed to address the lack of storytelling videos showcasing remarkable women scientists and their work available via popular online platforms. “Her Story reveals the lives of women working in science,” said Larissa Blokhuis, curator for Her Story. “This project acts as a beacon to girls and women who want to see themselves in the scientific community. The intergenerational nature of the project highlights the fact that women have always worked in and contributed to science.

This sentiment was reflected by Samantha Baglot as well, a PhD student in neuroscience who collaborated with filmmaker/science cartoonist Armin Mortazavi in Her Story. “It is empowering to share stories of previous Canadian female scientists… it is empowering for myself as a current female scientist to learn about other stories of success, and gain perspective of how these women fought through various hardships and inequality.”

When asked why seeing better representation of women in scientific work is important, artist/filmmaker Michael Markowsky shared his thoughts. “It’s important for women — and their male allies — to question and push back against these perceived social norms, and to occupy space which rightfully belongs to them.” In fact, his wife just gave birth to their first child, a daughter; “It’s personally very important to me that she has strong female role models to look up to.” His film will feature collaborating scientist Jade Shiller, and Kathleen Conlan – who was named one of Canada’s greatest explorers by Canadian Geographic in 2015.

Other participating filmmakers and collaborating scientists include: Leslie Kennah (Filmmaker), Kimberly Girling (scientist, Research and Policy Director at Evidence for Democracy), Lucas Kavanagh and Jesse Lupini (Filmmakers, Avocado Video), and Jessica Pilarczyk (SFU Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences).

This film series is supported by Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WWEST) and Eng.Cite. The venue for the events is provided by Vancouver Civic Theatres.

Event Information

Screening events will be hosted at Annex (823 Seymour St, Vancouver) on September 13th and 14th [2019]. Events will also include a talkback with filmmakers and collab scientists on the 13th, and a panel discussion on representations of women in science and culture on the 14th. Visit http://bit.ly/HerStoryTickets2019 for tickets ($14.99-19.99) and http://bit.ly/HerStoryWomenScientists for project information.

I have a film collage,

Courtesy: Curiosity Collider

I looks like they’re presenting films with a diversity of styles. You can find out more about Curiosity Collider and its various programmes and events here.

Vancouver Fringe Festival September 5 – 16, 2019

I found two plays in this year’s fringe festival programme that feature science in one way or another. Not having seen either play I make no guarantees as to content. First up is,

AI Love You
Exit Productions
London, UK
Playwright: Melanie Anne Ball
exitproductionsltd.com

Adam and April are a regular 20-something couple, very nearly blissfully generic, aside from one important detail: one of the pair is an “artificially intelligent companion.” Their joyful veneer has begun to crack and they need YOU to decide the future of their relationship. Is the freedom of a robot or the will of a human more important?
For AI Love You: 

***** “Magnificent, complex and beautifully addictive.” —Spy in the Stalls 
**** “Emotionally charged, deeply moving piece … I was left with goosebumps.” —West End Wilma 
**** —London City Nights 
Past shows: 
***** “The perfect show.” —Theatre Box

Intellectual / Intimate / Shocking / 14+ / 75 minutes

The first show is on Friday, September 6, 2019 at 5 pm. There are another five showings being presented. You can get tickets and more information here.

The second play is this,

Red Glimmer
Dusty Foot Productions
Vancouver, Canada
Written & Directed by Patricia Trinh

Abstract Sci-Fi dramedy. An interdimensional science experiment! Woman involuntarily takes an all inclusive internal trip after falling into a deep depression. A scientist is hired to navigate her neurological pathways from inside her mind – tackling the fact that humans cannot physically re-experience somatosensory sensation, like pain. What if that were the case for traumatic emotional pain? A creepy little girl is heard running by. What happens next?

Weird / Poetic / Intellectual / LGBTQ+ / Multicultural / 14+ / Sexual Content / 50 minutes

This show is created by an underrepresented Artist.
Written, directed, and produced by local theatre Artist Patricia Trinh, a Queer, Asian-Canadian female.

The first showing is tonight, September 5, 2019 at 8:30 pm. There are another six showings being presented. You can get tickets and more information here.

CHAOSMOSIS mAchInes exhibition/performance/discussion/panel/in-situ experiments/art/ science/ techne/ philosophy, 28 September, 2019 in Toronto

An Art/Sci Salon September 2, 2019 announcement (received via email), Note: I have made some formatting changes,

CHAOSMOSIS mAchInes

28 September, 2019 
7pm-11pm.
Helen-Gardiner-Phelan Theatre, 2nd floor
University of Toronto. 79 St. George St.

A playful co-presentation by the Topological Media Lab (Concordia U-Montreal) and The Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared (U of T-Toronto). This event is part of our collaboration with DDLsquared lab, the Topological Lab and the Leonardo LASER network


7pm-9.30pm, Installation-performances, 
9.30pm-11pm, Reception and cash bar, Front and Long Room, Ground floor


Description:
From responsive sculptures to atmosphere-creating machines; from sensorial machines to affective autonomous robots, Chaosmosis mAchInes is an eclectic series of installations and performances reflecting on today’s complex symbiotic relations between humans, machines and the environment.


This will be the first encounter between Montreal-based Topological Media Lab (Concordia University) and the Toronto-based Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared (U of T) to co-present current process-based and experimental works. Both labs have a history of notorious playfulness, conceptual abysmal depth, human-machine interplays, Art&Science speculations (what if?), collaborative messes, and a knack for A/I as in Artistic Intelligence.


Thanks to  Nina Czegledy (Laser series, Leonardo network) for inspiring the event and for initiating the collaboration


Visit our Facebook event page 
Register through Evenbrite


Supported by


Main sponsor: Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, U of T
Sponsors: Computational Arts Program (York U.), Cognitive Science Program (U of T), Knowledge Media Design Institute (U of T), Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IHPST)Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC)The Centre for Comparative Literature (U of T)
A collaboration between
Laser events, Leonardo networks – Science Artist, Nina Czegledy
ArtsSci Salon – Artistic Director, Roberta Buiani
Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared – Creative Research Director, Antje Budde
Topological Media Lab – Artistic-Research Co-directors, Michael Montanaro | Navid Navab


Project presentations will include:
Topological Media Lab
tangibleFlux φ plenumorphic ∴ chaosmosis
SPIEL
On Air
The Sound That Severs Now from Now
Cloud Chamber (2018) | Caustic Scenography, Responsive Cloud Formation
Liquid Light
Robots: Machine Menagerie
Phaze
Phase
Passing Light
Info projects
Digital Dramaturgy Labsquared
Btw Lf & Dth – interFACING disappearance
Info project

This is a very active September.

ETA September 4, 2019 at 1607 hours PDT: That last comment is even truer than I knew when I published earlier. I missed a Vancouver event, Maker Faire Vancouver will be hosted at Science World on Saturday, September 14. Here’s a little more about it from a Sept. 3, 2019 at Science World at Telus Science World blog posting,

Earlier last month [August 2019?], surgeons at St Paul’s Hospital performed an ankle replacement for a Cloverdale resident using a 3D printed bone. The first procedure of its kind in Western Canada, it saved the patient all of his ten toes — something doctors had originally decided to amputate due to the severity of the motorcycle accident.

Maker Faire Vancouver Co-producer, John Biehler, may not be using his 3D printer for medical breakthroughs, but he does see a subtle connection between his home 3D printer and the Health Canada-approved bone.

“I got into 3D printing to make fun stuff and gadgets,” John says of the box-sized machine that started as a hobby and turned into a side business. “But the fact that the very same technology can have life-changing and life-saving applications is amazing.”

When John showed up to Maker Faire Vancouver seven years ago, opportunities to access this hobby were limited. Armed with a 3D printer he had just finished assembling the night before, John was hoping to meet others in the community with similar interests to build, experiment and create. Much like the increase in accessibility to these portable machines has changed over the years—with universities, libraries and makerspaces making them readily available alongside CNC Machines, laser cutters and more — John says the excitement around crafting and tinkering has skyrocketed as well.

“The kind of technology that inspires people to print a bone or spinal insert all starts at ground zero in places like a Maker Faire where people get exposed to STEAM,” John says …

… From 3D printing enthusiasts like John to knitters, metal artists and roboticists, this full one-day event [Maker Faire Vancouver on Saturday, September 14, 2019] will facilitate cross-pollination between hobbyists, small businesses, artists and tinkerers. Described as part science fair, part county fair and part something entirely new, Maker Faire Vancouver hopes to facilitate discovery and what John calls “pure joy moments.”

Hopefully that’s it.

Review of ‘You Are Very Star’ transmedia show (in Vancouver, Canada)

Blasting backwards (1968) and forwards (2048) in time, the You Are Very Star immersive, transmedia experience offered by Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre is an exciting experiment as I discovered on opening night, June 15, 2013.

Don’t expect to sit passively in a theatre seat. We trotted around the building to visit or remember 1968 in one theatre, then zipped out to a 20 minute 2013 intermission where we played a game (they gave us maps with our programmes, which you are invited to return at the end of the intermission), and, finally, were escorted to the planetarium theatre to encounter 2048.

I’m not sure about the artistic intention for the 1968 portion of the show. It was one of those situations where my tiny bit of knowledge and considerable fund of ignorance combined to create confusion. For example, one of the characters, Earle Birney, a poet, writer, and titan of Canadian literature, did found the creative writing programme at the University of British Columbia as they note in the show but by 1968 he’d left Vancouver for Toronto. One of the other characters in this segment is called Esther, a black feminist and more, with whom Birney’s character appears to establish a liaison. Birney was married to an Esther whom I met some years ago. She was a white Englishwoman and a feminist but of a somewhat different character than the Esther of the play.

In addition, the clothing wasn’t quite right. No tie dye, no macrame, no beads, no granny dresses, and not enough fringe. Plus, I can’t recall seeing any bell bottom pants, mini dresses and skirts, and/or go go boots.

There were some interesting tonal changes in this section ranging from humour, political angst and anger, and pathos. The depiction of the professor who’s decided to let people grade themselves and who takes an hallucinogenic drug in front of his class seemed pretty typical of a few of the crackpot professors of the time.

Unexpectedly, the professor decides to get high on ayahuasca. LSD, magic mushrooms, marijuana and hashish would have been more typical. I can understand clothing and some of the dialogue not being typical of the period but getting the preferred drugs wrong seems odd, which is why I questioned *whether the artists introduced these incongruencies intentionally.

The actors all shone at one time or another as they delivered some pretty snappy dialogue . I’m hoping they tighten this section up so there’s less waiting for the snappy stuff and perhaps they could find some device other than xx hours/days earlier to signify a change in the timeframe. I lost count of how often they flashed a slide onscreen notifying us that the next scene had taken place at an earlier time. Finally, I loved the shadow puppets but they were on for a brief time only, never to return.

Our intermission was pretty active. There were lots of places on the map, given with the programme, where one was meant to discover things. I never did figure out what was happening with the stuffed toys that were being given out but I’m ok with those kinds of mysteries.

The last stop was the planetarium theatre for 2048. Very interesting costuming, especially the head gear. Still, I have to ask why do people in the future, in the more ‘optimistic’ versions of it, tend to wear white?

I found 2048 the most interesting part but that may be due to the references to human enhancement (a topic I’ve covered here a number of times). The playwrights also seem to have spent some time studying Ray Kurzweil and the singularity he’s predicting. From the Technological singularity essay on Wikipedia (Note: Links and footnotes have been removed),

The technological singularity is the theoretical emergence of superintelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the technological singularity is seen as an occurrence beyond which events cannot be predicted.

The first use of the term “singularity” in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. Neumann in the mid-1950s spoke of “ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue”. The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. Futurist Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the Brain.

Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an “intelligence explosion”, where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent’s cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045 whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030. At the 2012 Singularity Summit, Stuart Armstrong did a study of artificial generalized intelligence (AGI) predictions by experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. His own prediction on reviewing the data is that there’s an 80% probability that the singularity will occur in a range of 5 to 100 years. An alternative view, the “mitochondrial singularity,” proposed by microbiologist Joan Slonczewski, holds that the singularity is a gradual process that began centuries ago, as humans have outsourced our intelligence to machines, and that we may become reduced to vestigial power providers analogous to the mitochondria of living cells.

I thank the playwrights for introducing some of the more difficult aspects of the science and technology discussion that are taking place into this piece. For example, those who are enhanced and moving towards the singularity and those who are not enhanced are both represented here and so the playwrights have introduced some ideas about the social implications of employing new and emerging technologies.

You Are Very Star is not a perfect production but it is as I noted earlier very exciting both for the ways the company is trying to immerse audiences in an experience and for the ideas and dialogue they are attempting to stimulate.

The show goes on until June 29, 2013 and tickets are $30,

TO ORDER

youareverystar.brownpapertickets.com

1-800-838-3006

This production is being held at,

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
1100 Chestnut Street, in Vanier Park
8:00pm Tues – Sun
2:00pm Sun
12:00pm Thurs June 20

Do enjoy!

* Correction June 19,2013: ‘where’ changed to ‘whether’

ETA June 24, 2013: I noticed that where I use the word ‘enhancement’ other reviewers such as Colin Thomas in his June 17, 2013 review for the Georgia Straight are using ‘augment’

The Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science (play & installation) in Vancouver (Canada) and You Are Very Star (experience) online

Science hasn’t always been the science we think of and practice in the 21st century. For example, Isaac Newton, famed English physicist and mathematician was not the scientist we believe him to be as Stuart Clark’s Sept. 21, 2012 post for the UK’s Guardian newspaper online points out,

Often wrongly portrayed as a cold rationalist, Isaac Newton is one of history’s most compelling figures. It is true that he was capable of the most precise and logical thought it is possible for a human to achieve: his three years of obsessive work that gave birth to the Principia, containing his theory of gravity, stand as the greatest achievement in science.

Just as certainly, though, he was also consumed with what we would now view as completely unscientific pursuits: alchemy and biblical prophesy. [emphasis mine]

Tempting as it is to dismiss all of this as somehow removed from Newton’s science, his belief in spirits and what the alchemists called active principles almost certainly allowed him to conceive gravity in the mathematical form that we still use today. [emphasis mine]

Today’s science practice is the result of a long process and it includes the embarrassing (for some) such as alchemy and biblical prophecy, as well as, a 19th century scandal where an occultist, Madame Blavatsky, attempted to introduce Hindu and Buddhist teachings into Western Science.

A science installation featuring spiritualism à la Blavatsky, The Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science, and an environment resembling a 19th century laboratory that immerses the participant in a multi-media, multi-sensory experience is opening on Friday, June 14, 2013. From the June 10, 2013 Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) news release,

Imagine walking into a multi-media environment that looks like a 19th century science lab on the outside but, on the inside, immerses you into a sensory world where science, spirituality, illusion and intuition fuse.

Gruben [Patricia Gruben], a screenwriter, filmmaker and associate professor, and Gotfrit [Martin Gotfrit], a music composer, sound designer and professor, will unveil The Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science on Friday, June 14 at a reception. It is from 6 to 9 p.m. in Room 2205, Goldcorp Centre.

The duo’s free, public, cube-shaped, multi-sensory world will remain open until July 6. A presentation in its own right, the installation is also intended to prime the public’s creative appetite for The Secret Doctrine. The play, penned by Gruben, is about the intellectual triumphs and scandals that engulfed Helena Blavatsky, a 19th century Russian occultist.

The play runs July 2 to 6 at the Goldcorp Centre. [149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC Canada]

Scholars and scientists of Blavatsky’s day alternately lauded and defamed the co-founder of the Theosophical Society in India in 1881 for injecting Hindu and Buddhist teachings into western science. Blavatsky’s ideas are laid out in her tome, The Secret Doctrine, published in 1889. Gruben’s play is named after the book.

Gotfrit composed the music and soundscape for the installation as well as the play. Toronto-based designer Marian Wihak conceived of the installation’s innovative design. …

“We wanted to explore the threshold between rational science and intuition and we could only go so far in the play because we have to keep the story moving. The installation allows visitors to experience for themselves some of the questions that Blavatsky posed.

“For example, we play with the illusionary nature of our world, the interchangeability of matter and energy and the cyclical rather than linear progression of time.”

Adds Gotfrit: “The sound and music are designed to offer another sensory mode and to extend visitors’ experience beyond the visual, tactile and olfactory,” adds Gotfrit. “I use a multi-channel immersive audio system and my generative music software to trigger visitors’ aural experience and respond to it subtly.”

You can get more information about the installation and about Madame Blavatsky at the http://www.theveilofnature.net./,

June 14 – July 6, 2013, Tuesdays through Saturdays

Open 3 – 8 pm, Appointment recommended

Room 4350, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

149 W.Hastings, SFU Woodwards, Vancouver

I tried to make an appointment/sign up for a time but was unable (not sure if it was the system or me). You can try for yourself here. As for Gruben’s play, The Secret Doctrine, you can find out more and/or buy tickets here.

ETA June 12, 2013: Patricia Gruben very kindly noted (in response to my query) that you have to scroll over to the extreme  right to click on the SAVE button in the lower corner of the screen after filling in your name and choosing a date and time to book a viewing of the installation. (On my system the button had moved [disappeared from my perspective] and I didn’t scroll all the way to right.)

I wish them well with the installation. I last wrote about immersive experiences and installations in a March 6, 2013 posting about the Cleveland Museum of Art.

I recently posted (June 7, 2013) about an immersive, transmedia theatre production opening in Vancouver, Canada, You Are Very Star. For anyone who can’t get to Vancouver, you can get a bit of the show experience and, for those of us who will be attending the show, our experience can start at any time, from the *June 10, 2013 announcement (Note added June 12, 2013: The show opens on June 15, 2013 but there are previews in the days leading up to it),

Electric Company Theatre would like to invite you to begin your You Are Very Star experience. The show doesn’t begin when you walk through the doors at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vanier Park.
 
The show is now.
We recommend that you begin this endeavour as soon as possible, as you will have the opportunity to explore and investigate in the coming days before your scheduled performance.
As it is an online experience using innovative technology, we recommend that you take the following steps:
1. Use a computer, as you will not be able to view it on a tablet or smartphone.
2. Restart your computer (a fresh slate is good for all of us). Close other applications and browser tabs;
3. Viewing experience will be most optimal on Chrome. You may also use Firefox or Safari browsers- they should have the most recent update;
If you have any issues with the experience, please let me know by responding to this email.
Are you ready?

I’ve tried it both on Chrome and on Firefox. Both the Chrome and Firefox experiences were stunning although I experienced slightly better visuals on Chrome; I got further into the experience on Firefox (my system is held together with chewing gum and baling wire). Definitely try this out.

* Corrected June 14 to June 10.

You are very star—an immersive transmedia experience in Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre is launching a new show next week with previews June 12 – 14 and and an opening night on June 15, 2013. Here’s a trailer for this transmedia theatre event,

The trailer intrigues me as does this description of You Are Very Star, from the event page,

YOU ARE VERY STAR is an immersive, transmedia experience from Vancouver’s legendary ELECTRIC COMPANY THEATRE that will transport you back to 1968 and ahead to 2048, from the height of the Space Race to the dawn of a new augmented humanity, as characters in each story look forward or back to 2013 as a mysterious time of wonder.

Pushing at the boundaries of where theatre exists, You Are Very Star is encountered on-line, through social media, as a site-specific treasure hunt and as live theatre inside Vancouver’s beloved planetarium.

Perched like a spaceship in Vanier Park, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is, for a limited time, a portal to the most important moment in history: right now. Your presence will change the world.

As for the location (also noted in my Science events in Vancouver (Canada) for June 7 and June 13, 2013 posting), you really need to check out the map and the directions. The HR MacMillan Space Centre is one of two tenants (the other is the Museum of Vancouver) in a facility located in a park near Kitsilano beach. The Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival which takes place beside the facility starts June 12, 2013 and this is a very popular festival. Taking the bus means a 10 -15 minute hike, as well as, the festival hubbub and parking in that area is likely to be at a premium.

Despite any extra effort involved, I strongly suggest checking out You Are Very Star not just because the trailer is intriguing and mysterious. The Electric Company Theatre has a long history of innovative theatre integrated with feats of technical magic and is well known for this locally and nationally. The production I’m most familiar with is Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge. The production premiered in 2006 and featured the most breathtaking lighting design I’ve seen yet.  The show is mentioned in the Wikipedia essay on Eadweard Muybridge (for anyone unfamiliar with Muybridge, he was a photographer whose most outstanding contribution was a still series of studies on motion; he also pioneered motion-picture projection),

The play Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge (2006) was a co-production between Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre and the University of British Columbia Theatre. While blending fiction with fact, it conveys Muybridge’s obsession with cataloguing animal motion. The production started touring in 2010.

While it’s not possible to review a show before you’ve seen it, one can be inspired not just by descriptions of past productions but also with the company’s description of its artistic impulses,  Mission and Vision page,

We aim to defy audience expectations, and our love of theatrical spectacle drives us to work in expansive spaces – creating productions that go beyond the confines of the traditional stage to fully inhabit the venue and the audience. As with projects like No Exit and Tear the Curtain, the theatre itself is given a metaphoric presence and the role of the audience (the act of watching) becomes thematic content.

We have devised several plays where narrative is drawn directly from the venue; over the years our performances have inhabited a harbour, a swimming pool and a heavy equipment factory. This site-specific approach to storytelling extends to our work in traditional venues as well: our commissioned piece for the Arts Club Stanley Theatre is a film/theatre hybrid inspired by the Stanley’s dual identity as playhouse and historic cinema.

Frequently, our work looks to the past to define or uncover the present. These plays investigate the forces and historical figures that shape our perception of the modern world. We are fascinated by the role of technology in our lives, especially how it extends or replaces our physical senses. Invention, the obsession to change the world, the impulse to create, the spirit of the pioneer and the danger and promise of the frontier have been recurring themes in much of our work.

The tension between immediate and mediated remains a constant source of inspiration for a body of work that blends the boundary between stage and screen. The captivating, seductive allure of the ideal cinematic reproduction is in counterpoint with live presence, an athletic attempt at precision and the threat of the accidental. And while we are innovators in multimedia performance, we remain firm believers in the importance of live theatre to promote community interaction in the age of youtube.

As theatre-makers we continue to strive for a theatrical polyphony where narrative, choreography and design are developed in tandem, coexisting on stage without one element being subservient to the other. This continues to be a stimulating challenge within the expectation for popular theatre to be a purely narrative-driven art form.

Of course, this list is always in process. With each project we strive to build from what we know and to abandon it, jumping into territory we’ve never visited.

Getting back to this new show, the Electric Company Theatre’s May 15, 2013 news release provides some details about You Are Very Star,

The Electric Company, known for their innovative, spectacle-infused and thought-provoking work, is pleased to present You Are Very Star, an immersive, transmedia event. Part live theatre, part site-speciifc, interactive experience, You Are Very Star will take place at the H.R.
MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver’s beloved Planetarium, June 12-29, 2013.

Part One: Orbiting the Cusp of Greatness (written by Craig Erickson with story development with Kevin Kerr), takes place in 1968, and will be experienced in the auditorium of the basement of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. The Interlude (by Georgina Beaty, Kevin Kerr, Naomi Sider and Veronique West), takes place in the Cosmic Courtyard and Lobby.  Part Two: Transcendence (written by Kevin Kerr; story development with Sarah Sharkey), takes place in the Star Theatre in 2048, a world where we live inside technology, and are able to create conscious copies of ourselves. You Are Very Star struggles with centuries-old questions as large as the universe: Why are we here? What is our purpose? And can we transcend this earth—physically or mentally?

“The journey of the piece is an exploration of our relationship to dream and memory and how we negotiate the world we inhabit in relation to our expectations of the future and our memories of the past,” says writer Kevin Kerr. “Some believe that accelerating advancements in technology are destined to bring about an ultimate transformation of human consciousness and the birth of a new species that can design its future evolution. It sounds crazy, and it probably is, but there’s something in us that believes we can “beat the system”, to cheat death, to ultmately solve the riddle, why are we here? I love that we quest for that answer, but I wonder about the costs incurred as we do.”

There are a couple of pictures from the production. Here’s one from a rehearsal,

Rehearsal in progress for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

Rehearsal in progress for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

This too is a rehearsal shot,

Chirag Naik, Marsha Regis, and Dalal Badr in rehearsal for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

Chirag Naik, Marsha Regis, and Dalal Badr in rehearsal for Electric Company’s You Are Very Star. 2013, photo by Tim Matheson. Courtesy of Electric Company Theatre

If you’re ready for an adventure, here are details about show times and ticket prices,

June 12 – 29, 2013

H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
1100 Chestnut Street, in Vanier Park
8:00pm Tues – Sun
2:00pm Sun
12:00pm Thurs June 20

TICKET PRICES

Preview (June 12-14) $15
Regular $30
Weekday Matinee (June 20) $20

You can purchase your tickets here or call 1-800-838-3006.