human, next is a collaborative multimedia project by choreographer James Moreno and artist Benjamin Rosenthal that uses dancers, video projections and mobile monitors to perform the convergences and differences between virtual and physical bodies—offering new perspectives on our 21st century hybrid condition. The project incorporates three phases of live performances, as well as video reinterpretations that exist as independent single-channel works. Phase I of the performance premiered at the Lied Center of Kansas in November 2013 with six dancers, and was later performed with four dancers in March of 2014 as part of the CURRENT SESSIONS in New York City. Phase II of the performance premiered with six dancers at the Lied Center of Kansas in November of 2014, and was the first phase to introduce the use of mobile monitors. Phase III premiered in November of 2015 at the Lied Center of Kansas, and along with Phase II made its Chicago debut in April 2016 as part of “Body +/-” at High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary. Virtual bodies appear on three wireless video monitors and the cyclorama. The dancers move, obstruct, and reconfigure the monitors as they compete with the digital bodies for control of the performance space. At other times, the dancers are under the temporal and spatial control of the digital bodies. Over the course of the performance this shifting struggle for control reveals the complexity of designating the “human.” Over the course of the project, the dancer’s bodies are videotaped, at times scanned, and then manipulated, stretched, reformulated and interjected into different virtual scenarios on the cyclorama and mobile monitors that draw from the fields of video gaming, internet culture, and computer graphics. These bodies intersect with digital “stand-in” bodies that “wear” skins of constantly changing video textures, both mimicking physical experience and defying the limitations of that experience.
In Phase III of the performance, the virtual bodies and physical bodies become components of a somewhat malfunctioning and elaborate techno-breathing machine. Directed by the motion of virtual hands and bodies on the monitors, the dancers attempt to become active participants in this system. Failing to perform at the level of the technology, the system collapses, reboots and reveals the underlying interdependency.