In an age where Artificial Intelligence platforms are making inroads into both white collar and blue collar jobs, and climate issues are impacting on the most vulnerable in our communities as well as the environment, Number of the Machine, a compelling new performance-based work exploring the complex relationships between humans and technology, opens tonight at 5 pm at RMIT Gallery.
Created by celebrated choreographer Antony Hamilton, Number of the Machine (19 May – 10 June) is open to a range of interpretations and offers a powerful image of where we might be headed.
Number of the Machine is Hamilton’s first ever work for gallery spaces.
Hamilton’s multi-award winning performances involve a sophisticated melding of movement, sound and visual design. He has worked extensively throughout Australia and overseas, predominantly with Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc and Australian Dance Theatre (ADT), winning numerous awards including the prestigious Helpmann Award for Best Male Dancer (2009).
“There is something about the very different spatial and narrative possibilities offered at RMIT Gallery that attracted me to presenting Number of the Machine in this environment,” Hamilton said.
Artistic Director Antony Hamilton watching a rehearsal of Number of the Machine at RMIT Gallery
In the work, which is performed continuously for four hours each day, two performers engage with a machine that reflects human intellect and biological physicality, but at the same time the task they pursue is seemingly futile and endless, and one that requires total physical activity at the expense of independent thought or creativity.
Combined with an ominous sound design by (((20hz))) that amplifies the rhythmic patterns in the two 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) motion simulators which activate the bodies, the machines exhibit a sentient quality that rivals the human body’s rank in the space.
“The idea is that people can stay as long as they want, watching the performance, and come and go throughout their visit to RMIT Gallery,” Hamilton said.
Performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney in rehearsal for Number of the Machine at RMIT Gallery.
The original dance and motion simulator collaboration evolved through Hamilton’s residency with RMIT’s AkE Lab. The multidisciplinary research, teaching and learning laboratory uses motion simulators, 4D cinema seating, light and VR to explore relationships between sound, movement and vision.
The Audiokientic Experiments (AkE) Lab has facilitated a number of projects which have been presented in various exhibitions at RMIT Gallery. AkE’s associated artistic collective (((20hz))) has been supported by the gallery in presenting Object 2 (Experimenta Recharge 2014), Einsturzende Neubauten’s Klangbewegungmaschine (Geniale Diletanten 2015), blue|red: VIMS\SIMS (Morbis Artis, 2016) as well as Number of the Machine (2017).
(((20hz)))’s Toby Brodel, from AkE (Audiokinetic Experiments) Lab RMIT, setting up the programming, system design and sound for Number of the Machine at RMIT Gallery.
Number of the Machine explores our entangled relationship with the constructed environment over countless millennia. The work invites audiences to watch as over four continuous hours each day, performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney laboriously assemble and disassemble a timber dwelling from one synthetic island to the other.
Hear Hamilton talk about Number of the Machine:
Hamilton’s kinetic work complements the concurrent RMIT Gallery exhibition Ocean Imaginaries which focuses on some of the contradictions and conflicted feelings raised by how the ocean is imagined in an age of environmental risk.
Daily performance times: 19 May – 10 June – Mondays-Saturdays 12.30-4.30pm and Thursdays 2.30-6.30pm.
Artistic Director Antony Hamilton, Programming, System Design and Sound (((20hz)))
Timber structure Justin Green Performers Melanie Lane and Amber McCartney
Sponsors Created with the support of Darrin Verhagen, AkE Lab, City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria.