How Technology influences Art - a research group at the Maastricht Institute of Performative Arts - Zuyd
Technology Driven Art
ZUYD Hogeschool
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Technology Driven Art

To be or not…

Researching the live presence in a virtual world.
Research by Woody Richardson Laurens and Peter Missotten.
A collaboration with 8 European Theatre schools another international partners
Postponed to Nov-Dec 2021, due to Covid19
Using virtualisation tools in live performance art
Recording of the Live stream of Dec. 16, 2021 can be found here!

In this rapidly evolving technological society, ‘being live’ is slowly replaced by ‘being online’. Nowadays, it’s fair to
say that most of our human contacts are mediated through some kind of virtualizing technology. We almost phone/
email/chat/facebook more than we talk person to person.

In his theory about the speed of technology (dromology, as he calls it) the French philosopher Paul Virillio warned us
decades ago, that the fastest technology always prevails, and at the same time organises it’s catastrophe. Just unplug
the wifi router at your school and you will get a pretty good idea of what this catastrophe could feel like.

A live performance is by definition the slowest art medium we know: it’s in essence un-mediated. As such, it’s under threat of the ever speedier, virtualising media (cinema, television, gaming, internet). At the same time, it’s unique qualities become more tangible: the dirty slowness of being (a)live.

What if we infect our live performances with virtualising technologies? What if we replace some of the actors with animated 3D scans? What if we organise a live battle between the flesh and the virtual? What if we organise a virtuoso dance with the virtualising devil? Will some kind of inter-medial art form emerge, or will we just loose the battle? Will it show us something about our human condition in this age of technology?
Although this project was conceived quite some time before the Covid19 pandemic (and postponed due to the travel restrictions),questioning the live presence of the actor/performer,became weirdly acute during this pandemic. What is the essence of theatre?What's the essence of performing live?

These questions are pretty close to the best-known quote from theatre history:
to be or not…

to be or not…
is an English spoken in-school-project
in Maastricht - the Netherlands
It will take place from November 1 till December 23, 2021.
It’s open for students from all PLETA and other international partners (max total of 7).
In the amazing city of Maastricht (NL)


before beginning, after ending. the rest.
the rest is silence
famous words easily said
can we give them new meaning
in a (un-)certain time
in which the search
for an identity
seems to be the only reason for excistence
being an entity
having an identity

the performer reaches out for all the faces under the layer of his skin
eyes for seeing
eyes to look at
death fathers
mothers to sleep with
uncles to kill
revenge is my middle name
no, no
there is more between heaven and earth
skull in my hand
a beloved one floating in a river
on a painting
on a screen
on the stage
in the cloud
whispering, screaming
searching for words
for images

We ask our participating students
to quote
and make their own hamlet /ophelia
in 999 characters each

Placing individual faces /bodies/machines
in an ensemble of voices and sounds…
In this project, students work hands on with virtualising technology. In these 7 weeks, we produce a public spectacle, based on ‘Hamlet’ by Wiliam Shakespeare.
All students will be live (or playing dead) on stage. All students will individually (and before the start of the project) choose their favourite page of the play, to prove the central point of the piece: ‘to be or not to be: that’s the question’.

The resulting piece will be recorded and documented on several, virtualising media.

6 students from the performance department at Toneelacademie Maastricht
and a total of 6 students from our fellow academies
working together as a collaborative, artistic team…
(re) searching form, content, technology, stage presence, theatrical identity…

coaching and project managment by Woody Richardson Laurens and Peter Missotten
This project is supported by the Professorship Technology Driven Art of the Arts Faculty Zuyd.