19 June 2014

QWOP Dance By Roberts Sweeny Syndrome 1 1 16Th May

An ambivalent relationship to control has been one of the pressing features of innovative music and art for the last century – brought into focus most strikingly during the 60s/70s in the US by artists and writers such as John Cage and William Burroughs who actively interrogated the degree of control necessary in artworks, and in the UK by a punk scene who politicised the drug and alcohol-fuelled desertion of control in their art and life. 

This politicisation and aesthetics of the lack of control has since been off-set by a modern fetish for technology and digital processes – uber-accurate and complex systems of control can now be exerted by human beings formerly limited by their own digital system of eight fingers and two thumbs. Bodies and voices are extended into algorithmic visual and audio outcomes which betray the role of any kind of material or physical influence. In response, glitch and post-digital artists return to the analogue and faulty to assert the bodily and material nature of their work.

Of course these aren’t linear trajectories, and there were anal-ytically conducted musical works in the 1970s, just as there are scatalogically chaotic digital-AV performances today. These are the complex conditions for control in the performance realm, and its implications in our understanding of personal agency.  The political context too is one of claim and counter-claim for the role of technological control in our lives – the notion of control itself becoming synonymous with both “libertarian” ideals of privacy and choice, and the ‘free market’ capitalism of “neo-liberal” and now "accelerationist" economics.

It’s into this fray of contemporary interaction and affect that the Syndrome programme engages. Our event in The Box at FACT contains four important and timely gestures exploring what control, and the lack of it, entail for contemporary performance – from new interfaces allowing thought or musculature to become the medium for instrumentation, to a hugely affecting partnership of delirious speech and virtuoso musicianship, and an exploration of the limitations necessary in even virtual worlds.


Syndrome 1.3: Control featuring Lawrence Lek / Joel Eaton / Marco Donnarumma / Erik Bunger takes place at FACT on 25 June at 7.30pm. Visit the What's On page for more information and tickets.