Part of Onassis New Choreographers Festival 8
Artwork © Irini Kalaitzidi
Yet another grid. One more digital lattice of windows in the cloud, somewhere in-between zoom, jitsi, and google meet. “yaGrid” was created to host a speculative dance coming-together of human and non-human participants. Is there room in your diary for one more video conference call?
Concept, Choreography & Digital Media
Maria Vourou, Irini Kalaitzidi, Efthimios Moschopoulos, Esther, Kostas, Chimera, and 19 anonymous participants
Filming & digital support
Euripides Laskaridis, Marina Giagia, Veatriki Kapnisi, Areti Athanasopoulos, Despina Sanida, Zoi Mastrotheodorou
Saturday 20 March &
Sunday 21 March 2021, time TBA
A few lines are all it takes to draw a stick figure, that fundamental symbol of the human form since prehistoric times – a rod-like torso with protruding limbs. In this piece by Irini Kalaitzidi, a good few such abstract figures are brought in, as post-human beings, to dance with humans.
The video conference call environment here becomes a liminal space between the real and the imaginary, perfectly playing host to human and post-human beings in motion. Despite its grid-like structure, this digital platform with virtual windows blurs the boundaries between the participants. Where does one end and the other begin? How distinct are human beings from stick figures when they co-exist inside the same flat visual field?
As beings of unparalleled neutrality and digital simplicity, the stick figures drain the body of excess information, thus sparking the imaginations of those watching, inviting them to invent or discover things in this direction. What percentage of it is actual matter? What percentage is a wave or an idea, sound or pixels?
Irini is herself inside the grid. She verbally guides the participants through a movement improvisation, in a tone that borders on the meditative. The emerging ecosystem of dancing beings is left to exist inside a chronological and spatial continuum, one with no beginning and no end, no polar extremes, and no layers. What does exist is horizontal and elastic, slightly absurd and somewhat familiar. The viewer is present, themselves set inside a window. These stick figure interactions seek to trigger greater sensitivity and less fear towards all that is non-human – be it artificial intelligence, or a gardenia plant, or a shoe.
In graphic design, a grid is a structure comprising a series of intersecting lines (both straight and curved) that are used as a basis for laying out content.
Irini Kalaitzidi is a dance artist working with technology who has studied both dance (Greek National School of Dance) and Computational Arts (Goldsmiths, University of London). In “yaGrid”, and in her work more generally, she explores the space in-between human and non-human, physical and digital, familiar and uncanny bodies.
“yaGrid” sprang from a post-human approach to (co-)existence, as analyzed through the conceptual framework of feminist technoscience by such thinkers as Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, and Francesca Ferrando. Its network of dancing bodies proposes a less anthropocentric way of looking at the moving body and at movement more generally, not as a way of negating or expressing hostility towards all that is human, but rather out of a need to challenge ways of thinking and everyday ways of living, as well as everything else that goes beyond the human.