designing using the camera as a tool

Sophisticated use of media entered experimental theatre productions in the 80’s, after the great influence of Robert Wilson and Phillip Glass’s ‘Einstein on the beach’. “[Einstein on the beach] it is a cultural icon in so far as it crystallises and transcends the experimental trends of all the arts across the board during the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States.” [Maria Shevtsova]

Even that Robert Wilson’s has done experimental film is his career; most of his stage productions don’t have the use of video, projections or technological media. What is significantly important about his work in the history of the video medium in theatre is that with ‘Einstein on the beach’ he has established the experimental theatre and non-traditional theatre into a big scale and also a theatre which transcends theatrical convention was recognized around the world, and it has allowed video experiments to grow in conventional theatre. “For Wilson, as for many other artists who incorporate media into their work, video and film provide additional architectural elements to the stage environment and allow for greater manipulations of time.” [Michael Rush, new media in art]

Robert Lepage’s work, with his company Ex Machina, is a big reference of how film medium is often used in theatre. The performance Lipsynch it’s for me a great reference of ability on how to design with video as tool; it creates complete different sets and locations with pieces of set, props and projections. The company recreates the space; the use of media art and video adds to the performance creating a space of imaginary senses and possibilities. There is a relationship between the live body and the live film image, once both relate to each other and follow the same language and intention. It is connected, as questions and answers from different vessels.

Recent projects of the company also include The Image Mill, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Québec City. It was the biggest outdoor architectural projection ever made in the world. In forty minutes, Robert Lepage and Ex Machina celebrated four centuries of human and materiel development using the huge surface of the Bunge grain elevators as a giant screen.

Ex Machina has as big influence Peter Brook’s work, even that Brook doesn’t use the video medium in his performances, with exception of “The man who” (1992), in which video projections were used because it was representing a part of the mind of the character, so was used with a certain purpose.

The best example for me of media sophistication is the company Complicite,  a British theatre company which had with “The elephant vanishes”(2003) a high level of video use, in a balanced way, aligned with the story and not over high tech; their use of film as I have also described earlier for Robert Lepage’s Ex Machina company, is beautifully composed with props, set, costume and movement.

Other company that is a reference in this subject is La fura dels baus; best known for physical performances and interaction with audience, now the theatre group has divided their work into different lines in which includes language performances, staged performances, film, special event and large-scale performances, opera, music and ‘new perceptions’, which they define explaining  “The Internet has become a frequent and fruitful setting for La Fura dels Baus’s creations. The World Wide Web, accessible from every corner of the planet, has been used by the company to put forward and develop interactive theatrical actions. La Fura has defined this genre as digital theatre, “the combination of actors and bits.”

The development of innovative websites and the inclusion of Internet as a dramatic element in their performances firmly establish La Fura on the cutting edge of cyber nautical creation, and allowed other companies and groups to change their work opening infinite possibilities to creation and visual shows.

Now I started to research into Katie Mitchell’s work, and I am impressed with “Waves” the play at the National Theatre, check it out:

 

 

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