Artist Statement: A New Paradigm of Theatre

 

The theater, at its essence, serves as a dynamic window through which a witness can see his or her place in the wide, layered landscape of life. My work integrates modern visualization technology towards this ancient and sacred end. The latest video technologies have changed the type of the perspective gained during the performance and have even shifted the nature of the performance itself. Rather than pertaining only to the world of the biological, multiple channels of video extend the performance into a new space that lies at the crux of the imaginary and physical worlds. A magical landscape enters into the purview of the theater where a witness can see the human mind and body navigating between both the imaginary and the physical worlds. This hybrid landscape is central to my work, which asks how the imaginary layer and the sensual layers of human experience diverge and converge, revealing truths of contemporary life.

 

Frames of focus, landscapes of different nature, dimensions of experience, scope – these are crucial factors in understanding human behavior. What am I seeing and how am I seeing it? The interior personal landscape and the exterior public landscape are two of the spheres that can frame the visualization of the human journey and an understanding of the human condition. There is also the temporal landscape, where memories and dreams come into play, and the physical landscape, where geography and topology orient the body, which each act as discrete dimensions of life. The pairing of social perception and rational analysis is another set of landscapes and perceptions that a person draws from, as if tapping into an oscillating current of pulsing intelligences. Video frame helps to define scope and dimension. It extends the eye and senses, refines the focus, and visualizes life as a multilayered journey on constantly shifting terrain.

 

Visualizing the interior landscape, in particular, enables the exploration of the fundamental questions of the Theory of Mind. How do we become aware that another person has a mind and has as complex of a life experience as we have? Video-scape can map a character's sensitivities - how the word “vase” can launch a profound memory of the Other's mother in her mind. An image of the ancestral relic colors her mind and senses, which we may never perceive when looking at the Other's face. Images pregnant with humanity connect and flow, visualizing something like a magnetic field of sensitivities felt by the Other's mind and body.

 

So, then, what is character? Costumes and props help visually define an identity. Traits are made material. Spoken language gives invisible and sensorial insight to convey personality and background. Video contributes to the character's language, making visible a dynamic stream of information via a synesthetic language. Consistent markers of images or color reinforce a fixed identity. The stream of invisible-now-visible visions of the mind reveal the network of associations and attachments that holds an identity in place.

 

But, a public memory enters into the mix. Shared images and shared visions expand the network of symbols and meaning to connect individual experience with a public stream of consciousness – a shared mind. The line between our own mind and a shared mind is thin, where one bleeds into the next. Fixed identity can melt away and a unified human experience can emerge.

 

Theater has evolved, for me, as an art-form deeply concerned by the interactions between body, mind, and image. This trifecta of dimensions unpack life, frequently communicated as a linear experience, but is instead a winding, invisible path where different forces are at play. When body, mind and image are misaligned, there is tension, and drama. When there is alignment, there is potential for truth and freedom. The human condition is to constantly negotiate between these, alignment and misalignment. Witnessing this expansive field of life and its intricate paths is a chance for cathartic growth.  

 

- Amy Munz