Jan 10

Freya Björg Olafson’s Avatar is innovative, but falls short

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Freya Olafson’s Avatar is described as a ‘live dance meets online ambiguity.’ That’s a bit of a stretch, but the term online ambiguity is accurate. Olafson’s piece deals with our relationship with the internet, specifically the personal camera and how it serves to document our daily lives. Avatar is based in the idea ‘I post, therefore I am.’ The idea that our existence is validated by our online activity.

On stage with Olafson is a laptop computer and behind that is a projection screen. Olafson performs between the computer and the screen, interacting with the camera in the computer. This production makes use of complicated projection technology. Everything from video playing on video, to shadows being projected and replicated as well as voice distortion all in real time. What Olafson does with technology in her work is impressive.

We see her dancing on screen, while she replicates the movement in front of us. We watch her computer screen populate with Youtube videos of people showing off their bodies. Olafson poses in front of the camera in ‘photobooth’. Makes a video blog. Avatar demonstrates through video projections, the many advertisements for porn that we are exposed to. Olafson then paints a blue screen on a backdrop on stage and the video projection is of a bathroom. With voice distortion that makes her sound like a little kid, she applies makeup to look like eyes are on her eyelids and also paints on giant red lips. Adorned with a white wig, she does certainly look freaky. Olafson then alludes to the internet’s obsession with body image and paint away her body using blue screen paint. She then sets up a sequence where she records a video blog, thanks her subscribers and tells the ether of the internet to ask her questions.

It all touches on theme of how we use the internet to validate our existence. And Avatar does present videos in a truly innovative way. But for a production billed as live dance, there is barely any of it. The piece relies on media technology so heavily, that it loses all of the components that makes live theatre truly compelling. Painting parts of your body with blue screen paint is only so interesting. This is a production that is based in the innovation of media projection and doesn’t truly incorporate full body dance movement. Avatar is interesting, innovative but ultimately dull.

Avatar runs in the High Performance Rodeo until January 12th in the Big Secret Theatre. More information is available at online.
(Two stars out of five)

Related Posts

Previous post:

Next post: