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Mixed Realities and Inflatable Tits

Layers and stacks of the surreal, ATOM-R overlays virtual reality onto nearly naked and tattooed bodies scrunched onto wooden boards, thin attractive bodies galavanting haphazardly around a balloon-filled space. The gallery, to the audience’s discovery, has hidden words—poetic collections found when a performer’s phone is scanned over the area, their placement projected on screen. Jubilantly read aloud we follow the performer’s moves, wanting to search and search and uncover with him. What other area needs be digitally scratched? What else can we find behind the wall? What else can we find above the ceiling? What words are hiding behind our own face, his face, that woman across the room’s face?

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Kjell Theory re-works Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play “Les mamelles de Tirésias,” the work in which the author invented the word surrealism. Also explored in the performance is the work of gay computing pioneer Alan Turing. The two concepts are mixed, folded and surgically dissected throughout real and virtual space. Augmented reality is embedded in the performance, both found within the text surrounding the performers as well as on their own bodies, custom-designed temporary tattoos (found on butts and back and thighs) holding the intelligence of augmented reality in their design.

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My favorite layer of the performance (beside finding myself on screen, attempting to capture my own movements against the chaos being performed) were meta-reflections seen when performers faced cell phone cameras at themselves. Their face was then see in reality, reflected in cell phone screen, and projected onto the back wall. When glancing at themselves they seem to glance forever, looking deep within their own motions and thoughts while dually staring at US.

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Although viewing the performance with knowledge of the performance’s points of origin, (Why is that performer growing balloon breasts?), the performance is not deflated if experienced fresh. (That performer is growing balloon breasts!!) Viewing is reading a poem, viewing is scrolling through data, viewing is watching butts, viewing is anticipating balloon pops, viewing is a multifaceted experience of engagement and translation all rooted in mathematics, code, surrealism, dance, and fabulous tits.

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Kate Sierzputowski is freelance writer and arts journalist based in Chicago, IL. Fascinated by artists’ studio processes, she founded the website INSIDE\WITHIN to physically explore the creative spaces of emerging and established artists. Kate regularly contributes to Colossal, Hyperallergic, Newcity, and Rabbit Hole.
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