Preview: Darkroom Contemporary Dance Theatre’s immersive deus::ex::machina –  human geography in a virtual world– will be presented at 2022 The National Arts Festival (NAF) in Makhanda- in public spaces – at no charge – and also online – at no charge

What: deus::ex::machina – human geography in a virtual world
Where: 2022 National Arts Festival in Makhanda
When and where:   Live in Makhanda – in  three public spaces- no charge  

~Friday June 24, 2022 – at 11am -Sundowners Stage
~Saturday June 25, 2022 at 11am on the Village Green and at 3pm on the Drostdy Lawns  

Online: For those, not physically present in Makhanda, the interactive online experience is accessible – from anywhere in the world- at the above dates and times.

Cost: Tickets are free of charge but booking is required. See link below
#NAF2022 #deus::ex::machina #DarkroomContemporary #telematic #digitisation #humanexperience #dancealgorithms

Direct booking link:
Duration: 22 minutes
Info: and scroll down for social media links for Darkroom Contemporary Theatre 

“A search for connection within chaos:” Thrilling news is that Darkroom Contemporary Theatre’s flagship 2020 project, deus::ex::machina – human geography in a virtual world– is part of the curated programme at the 2022 National Arts Festival in Makhanda. #NAF2022 is taking place from June 23 to July 3, 2022. For #NAF2022, Darkroom Contemporary Dance Theatre is presenting deus::ex::machina, for three performances, in three public spaces: Friday June 24 (one slot) and Saturday June 25 (two slots). There is no charge but booking is advised because of Covid and because of other technical aspects of this hybrid work which features interaction between audience and the performers. It is hybrid because, although it takes place live, it is interfaced with interaction between dancers and audience. The audience becomes part of a game – immersed in the performance. It is a telematic performance. There is interactivity at the live performances. Using a QR code, the audience selects options and votes as to how the dancers should proceed. The dancers then take their cues from the audience prompts, beamed through their headphones. See photos, below. This means that each iteration of deus::ex::machina, evolves differently as it is informed by the audience which becomes a protagonist in the performance. In addition to in-person attendance, there is the invitation, for those not at the festival, to click in, online. Online viewers also participate, using the QR code. This means that audiences visiting Makhanda for NAF, can experience the work- live – with hybrid elements of interaction – in public spaces around the festival grounds. Concurrent with that, viewers anywhere in the world can also participate in the interactive online experience. TheCapeRobyn was lucky to be present at a live presentation in Cape Town in 2020 and also participate online. Participation is key to this work. One is not simply ‘watching’ a dance piece. One is involved in the way the performance plays out ,as a game, with the viewer, very much part of the game. It is a mind-blowing immersive experience – the interactive telematic format – and the dance and dancers -conjure up beautiful and intense stories – seeking connections with each other – and generating conversations with the audience. Scroll down for related coverage on TheCapeRobyn of deus::ex::machina, when it was presented in 2020, in public spaces in Cape Town. Info as supplied:

DARKROOM CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEATRE’S deus::ex::machina – human geography in a virtual world, AT THE NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL 2022

The genesis of deus::ex::machina

This groundbreaking work by Darkroom Contemporary was developed during, and in response to, the global lockdown in 2020. deus::ex::machina is a physical expression of human geography, a search for connection within chaos. Part telematic performance, part interactive online experience, deus::ex::machina is live, real time motion controlled by the audience. deus::ex::machina is conceptualised and choreographed by Louise Coetzer, with interactive design by Thingking, and performed by Darkroom Contemporary Dance Theatre.

This multiplayer game invites viewers to meet online or in real life, in a shared experience of simulated connection. The deus::ex::machina virtual experience is driven by you, the viewer, and demonstrates a real time exercise in cause and effect, infinite probability and random points of connection. In this extended reality, the viewer controls the dancers via a real time voting process through their devices, ultimately deciding each unique experience of the telematic performance, as it unfolds live and via live stream.

In this extended reality, we measure the uniqueness of the individual, against the commonality of the human experience. The performance expresses how the movements & trajectories of people moving in public space, unknowingly create a large scale choreography. While we experience global physical isolation, our connections entirely dependent on technology, our realities filtered through algorithms – how close are we to being controlled; or are we the ones in control? deus::ex::machina becomes a physical embodiment of man vs machine. No two performances are the same, and each audience experience unique.

The deus::ex::machina experience is designed to mimic an old – school arcade game, and functions as multiplayer game. Over the course of six levels, dancers receive the outcome of audience inputs via headphones, and each dancers performs their next choreographic phrase as decided by the audience. This codification of human movement, echoes the coded functionality of the work’s interactive telematic elements, speaking to the digitisation of our human experience.

Every performance results in a unique outcome of the possible phrasing iterations, as voted for, in real time. The work features an ambisonic sound score, with music by Cara Stacey & Object Agency, Lungiswa Plaatjies & Matthijs van Dijk, and Franco Prinsloo. Throughout the performance experience, each user has a choice between hearing one of two different soundtracks, or to continue alternating between the different sound choices throughout.

Performance history

For its premiere in October 2020, deus::ex::machina formed part of the Pan African Creative Exchange, and Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. It was then performed as part of Vrystaat Kunstefees Snelstroom, and Fakugesi Festival of African Digital Innovation.

Funders for deus::ex::machina at NAF 2022

This performance tour is made possible by the National Arts Festival, National Arts Council, and the Department of Sport, Arts & Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy. Project development made possible by the National Lotteries Commission. Realised through the Pan African Telematic Art Project (PATAP), an initiative of the Vrystaat Arts Festival Pan African Creative Exchange, supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands & the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and with support from NATi. In partnership with Thingking, Silent Events South Africa & Dance For All SA.

In-person at #NAF2022 and online

Audiences can experience deus::ex::machina at the National Arts Festival, at the following dates and times :

Friday June 24: 17h00 – Sundowners Stage

Saturday June 25: 11h00 – Village Green  | 15h00 – Drostdy Lawns

Audiences not visiting Makhanda, can still participate in the interactive online experience from anywhere in the world, at those same dates and times. Tickets are free of charge.

Darkroom Contemporary Theatre

Instagram:  @darkroomcontemporary
Twitter: @DarkroomDance      

The 2020 season deus::ex::machina in Cape Town: Tania Mteto & Carla Scholtz on the Sea Point, Promenade. Note- the headphones on the dancers. They are cued into voting prompts from the audience. It is a telematic game – a conversation between audience, artists and the space. For review and insights, scroll down, for link. Pic: Oscar O’Ryan.
The 2020 season deus::ex::machina in Cape Town: Albert Luthuli Place at Civic Centre – in photo – from left- Mukovhe Monyai, Tania Mteto, Farnel Smart, Cristopher Sherwood Adcock, Carla Scholtz. Pic: Oscar O’Ryan.

On at National Arts Festival 2022: Darkroom Contemporary Dance Theatre’s immersive deus::ex::machina will be on at #NAF2022 -Friday June 24 (one slot) and Saturday June 25 (two slots)- three performances in public venues. No charge, but please book

✳ Sponsored content. Images supplied. Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn:

Interview 2020:

Review 2020: