Inferno is a participative robotic performance project inspired by the concept of control and the representation of hell.
From Dante’s Circles of Hell to theme parks such as Haw Par Villa's Ten Courts of Hell, passing by Joey, The Mechanical Boy, bodies are handed to eternal and external forces controlling and afflicting them. Those punishments and external powers, found in the depiction of numerous flavors of hell, suggest an infinite and mundane control loop under which the body will be forced to move endlessly. In Inferno, the "circles of hell" concept is a framework, a theme under which the different parts of the performance are regrouped.
The specificity of this performance resides in the situation where the machines involved in the performance are retrofitted on the body of raptured audience members cum performers. A selected group of the public therefore becomes an active part of the performance, giving a radical instance of immersive and participative experiences. Shifting the exoskeleton’s command from the authors, to the computer, to the audience, and to the performers, Inferno questions the nature of control either machinic or human, coerced or voluntarywhere either utopian or dystopian futures radiate, both real and fictional.
Wearing a robotic device entails many interpretations. Inferno also addresses many recurrent issues revolving around the human-robot symbiotic relationships. Wearing or being entrapped in a robotic entity recalls the concept of the Cyborg that emerged in the late 80s. Inferno revisits this concept thru a pastiche of the utopian concept of Singularity. Among cultures throughout history, the representations of Hell, demons, and punishments are vast. In Inferno, the anxiety of the Singularity translates Hell and infinite punishment into a pseudo-model of Infinite Automation (rituals) and subordination to the machine.
Louis-Philippe Demers (CA) makes large-scale installations and performances and has built more than 375 machines over the past two decades. His projects can be found in theater, opera, subway stations, art museums, science museums, music events and trade shows. Demers’ works have been primed at Ars Electronica, VIDA , Japan Media Arts Festival, Lightforms and at the Helpmann Awards. Demers was Professor of Digital Media and Exhibit Design at the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung, the academic institution affiliated to ZKM (Zentrum fuer Kunst und Medientechnologie) in Karlsruhe. Currently Demers is Associate Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. Demers holds a PhD on machine performance from Plymouth University.Bill Vorn
Based in Montreal, Bill Vorn (CA) has been creating Robotic Art projects for more than twenty years. His practice involves robotics and motion control, sound/noise, lighting, video, and cybernetic processes. He holds a PhD degree in Communication Studies from UQAM (Montreal, 2001) and teaches Electronic Arts, since 1999, in the Department of Studio Arts at Concordia University where he is Full Professor. His work has been presented at many international events, including Ars Electronica, ISEA, DEAF, Sonar, the Havana Biennale, the Exit and Via festivals, the Athens Video Art Festival, and Wood Street Galleries.
Concept, robots, light and sound: Bill Vorn, Louis-Philippe Demers
Electronics: Martin Peach
Studio Assistants: Beatriz Herrera, Morgan Rauscher, Csenge Kolozsvari
Support: Canada Arts Council, MOE Tier 1 Nanyang Technological University
Co-Production: Acreq-Elektra, Maison des Arts de Créteil, ARCADI, Stéréolux, Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec