demandingly simple set up

Amanda Steggell (
Mon, 25 Oct 1999 11:24:55 +0100

Report from:
20+23.10.99 /Norwegian Folk Museum
setting: a gallery space - a collective exhibition called "give me a reason
to be woman"
Motherboard's performance within this exhibition: "Lara Croft >listen:do"
Current duration has been 1hr 15 min.

The dancer as Lara Croft occupies the space, complete with big tits, a
rucksack, round glasses, 2 blazing lazerplaypistols - the works - and has a
repetoire of twelve basic movements:

frd (with walk as default)
backwrd (with walk as default)
action (shoot lazer guns - or perform which ever action is appropriate -
dive roll and shoot, prepare to shoot, etc)
running jump
turn left
turn right
back to the start (lara returns to her start postion and place in space)
walk to the edge (cautious, slow walk, eyes on the floor, stopping at the edge)
okay (lara stops what she is doing, and either stands and breathes, or nods
her head in an affirmative manner)

The public has easy acess to a simple console : a sampler with twelve
buttons. The buttons are labelled with the above commands, and when the
public pushes these, a voice sample "says" the commands such that the
dancer /Lara can hear them. Lara executes these commands with acute
precision according to Lara Croft's movements in Tomb Raider. If she is
commanded to run, she will run until she is stopped by a physical barrier
(a wall or another person) in which case she crashes and says "ughhhhh!",
or by the "okay" command.

If she receives a "turn left" command, she will keep turning left in her
own spesial manner until she is commanded otherwise.

There are no instructions for the public. But the console stands in the
middle of the floor and invites people to push the buttons. Once a button
is pushed, Lara responds, so it is pretty obvious what is going down. If
the public don't get the connection at first, curiosity leads them to push
again ... they see Lara respond.

Though dancer-Lara is pretty restricted by these twelve movement patterns
.. she has to work within the simple, but demanding structure in a
creative manner ..... she has to link the movements together - create
transitions. If she decides to dive and shoot on an "action" command and
her movement is interupted while she is on the ground, by, let's say,
"running jump", then she has to get on her feet before she can run. So she
continually choreographs transitions on the fly. Each movement command has
it's own rythm and speed _ the dancer has to change immediately between,
for eg, walking and running, she has to jump immediately into the air from,
say, a "Look" mode. Her exprerssion must change from the teeth-baring
shooting mode to the smiling, nodding okay mode.

The playstation construction of Lara's movements is pretty cool .. a jump
has a usable preparation for a human. The end of a jump, and a stop
involves three changes of weight, bringing Lara into a postion where she
has a solid base - her weight divided equally between two legs. So it is
possible for dancer-Lara to carry out these quick transitions in a split
second after receiving the new command - but she has to be always aware and

She has to be uncomprimising, precise and extremely confident in her
performance.... through her interaction with the commands, ie with the
public, she recreates the rules of the exhibition space. Walls and people
are equal barriers - there is no distinction, except that people can move
out of her way (if they see her and react that way).

People become targets: if they happen to be in Lara's undiscrimating range
when she recieves an "action" command, or a "look" command .. she will look
at them, or shoot them with her blinking lazer playpistols straight in the
eye. She will crash into people who have their backs turned to her if they
are in her pathway.. so there is no chance of taking a passive look at her,
and then dismissing her without leaving the space.

The button pushers seem to react like this ... if they have seen others
using the console to command Lara, they have an idea of what's going down,
but still first press cautiously. They pause at first before pushing the
next command of their choice, often moving through the commands in turn
form the first to the last. Then they try to master the navigation of Lara
through space. If they get this far, which they mainly do, they get more
creative, or vindictive (kids are ruthless, some thought dancer-Lara was a
machine) ... how many times will Lara crash against the wall? That is
popular. Sometimes it seems like they're trying to crack Lara and reveal
the dancer. They challenge her by pushing buttons in fast succession. Some
are inclined, then, to take care of Lara .. give her pauses by pushing the
"look", "back to the start" or "okay" button. Others will choreograph -
they want to see a certain sequence . Others will walk away from the
console when Lara is in the middle of an action, and they then get
concerned, embarressed or pleased that Lara is left in a contionuous
movment, or left to crash into a barrier.

So , for a simplified summary:

approach the console cautiosly
navigate the space - gain controll/master the game/gain confidence
get creative - immersed in the game,

then there is a division, they either/and/or:

A.become aware of the others in the room
1. want to show their skills in controlling Lara
2. become prohibitted by the fact that others are watching them, or
following Lara while they command her

B. become concerned for Lara/the dancer - empathy

Then they : give up command in several ways:
1. leave Lara in movement
2. command Lara "back to the start" before leaving
3. give way to another member of the public keen to push the buttons

... often several people stand around the console as competitors or
collaborators, and the boundaries also flow between competing and
collaborating with each other and Lara.

The button pushers are not moving - but are directly involved in, and
responsible for the movement. The dancer does not have to reach out to the
public .. .. she has to perform according to the rules of this specific
environment. The public are forced to relate to the space according to the
environmnet that the interaction between button pusher and Lara/dancer

There is no escape.

It is interactive.
It is ritual.

cheers !

Tel:+47 22563507
Oscarsgt. 49, 0258 Oslo, Norway.