POWERED BY MORAN
Invited by New Moran to be one of a select group of artists to create site-specific installations at the Moran Plant in 2015, I imagined a multi-sensory performance that would completely engage the community in an exploration of the space. The history of the building, the building itself as structuring elements for the performance, and the space’s future potential inspired my work.
The space, a former power plant, is vast. The memory of intense heat from the generation of power is everywhere, yet the space itself is now cold and abandoned. Gritty, dark and industrial, it’s filled with catwalks above and water-filled ducts below. Being in it is incredibly energizing.
I wanted the piece to be a true multi-sensory performance, including movement artists, sound, light and film designers. Everyone I asked enthusiastically wanted to participate in the exploration.
At the ground level, at the heart of the plant (where the ashes once fell from the burning of the material), Paul Besaw, Associate Professor in the Dance Dept. at UVM, and dancer Marly Schneider, worked with me in a structured improvisation--exploring the future and the past and the building itself. On the main level, a large group of dancers, led by dancer and choreographer Sara McMahon, performed a choreographed movement sequence representing the original workers in the building, with everyday movements that the workers would have used.
Internationally recognized synth based music producer Principal Dean designed sound for the piece, working live in response to both to the building dimensions and acoustics, and to the movements of the performers. John B. Forbes, a lighting designer from the UVM Theater Department, brought light dimension to the movement and the space, and videographer, Hilary Hess, captured the entire performance--movement, light and sound, in real time.
Each of us pushed our creative boundaries, and the audience’s boundaries were pushed as well. Invited to view the performance in fixed places on the lower level, with the dancers moving around them, the audience was immersed in a truly interactive experience of the space. Both performers and audience were required to wear hard hats and needed to sign a waiver before entering the building.
As a kinetic strategist and movement artist, I’m inspired by the creative process, the power of play, and the potential of non-hierarchical complex systems. In this piece, synchronicity and tension occur through the creation of many different dimensions of experience. The building is intriguing. I wasn’t interested in using the building as a stage. I was interested in working with the building - and letting the audience discover and experience it in new and unexpected ways.
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SO WHAT? - KARMA BIRDHOUSE GALLERY INSTALLATION
After the single-day performance I designed an installation for the group show about the Moran Plant at Burlington's Karma Birdhouse Gallery. The installation extended the Powered By Moran experience in a tangible and conceptual way. Using elements from the actual building--concrete, switch plates, metal pipes - I curated an art installation that invited the audience to explore and experience the movements and sensory information of the site in a new context as well as contemplating questions of community engagement.
Encountering the unexpected--in this case the material from the Moran-- out of context is like missing the last step of stairs, or a floorboard in the wood floor. We get stopped in our tracks, our habitual patterns. It’s an opportunity to react differently, to pause, and to see new. This pause opens up space - the space for non-doing, the space where we have the freedom of choice, the space we call mindfulness. The space where we are fully human.