Tech meets art in McGregor’s ‘Atomos’

By Yoon Min-sik
  • Published : May 25, 2017 - 15:27
  • Updated : May 25, 2017 - 17:58

How can modern-day technology be integrated into art?

According to decorated choreographer Wayne McGregor, the mix of science and art can be quite “poetic.”

“We’re interested in technology, not necessarily on stage, but a way it’s inspiring process,” said McGregor while explaining the production of his show “Atomos,” which is set to be performed at LG Arts Center in southern Seoul on Friday and Saturday.

During the press conference on Thursday, McGregor said he and other artists at Company Wayne McGregor have drawn from wide spectrum of sources -- from cognitive neuro-science to anthropology -- as inspiration for movement.

A production shot of “Atomos” (LG Arts Center)

“We often work with AI, machine learning or new technological ways of working in studio, to inspire the body -- in some way -- to ‘misbehave.’ We’re interested in the body doing things out of the normal way of working,” he said, adding that he looks to “subvert” normal way of dancing to create a “different kind of physical language.” 

A production shot of “Atomos” (LG Arts Center)

McGregor said that his curiosity toward atomizing the human body had triggered the show’s production, first performed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London in 2013.

According to the choreographer, the show was inspired by 1982 neo-noir science fiction film “Blade Runner,” which explores the ethics involving technological development.

The production staff had divided the movie into 1,200 pieces and reinterpreted them to form various movements, with which McGregor and his dancers expanded upon. While not re-enacting elements of the cult classic, McGregor’s work borrows themes and motions from the movie.

An essential part of the production was an artificial creature, which he said was like the show’s “11th artificial dancer.”

“It (artificial dancer) hijacks the moments from ‘Blade Runner’ and it tries to recreate the motion that was in that tiny little ‘atom’ of movement. And soon as it gets close to the motion of the atom, it evaporates and does something else,” he said. 

Wayne McGregor speaks during a press conference for “Atomos” at LG Arts Center in Gangam-gu, Seoul on Thursday. (LG Arts Center)

McGregor added that he did not feel that it was necessary for the dancer to be actually shown on stage,

“Hardware just inspires different ways of generating content, makes us think differently about how we can integrate the technology,” he said.

The dancer’s costumes were designed by the Studio XO, which had collected the data on the physical attributes of each dancer through its wearable technology and applied it to each costume.

The music was done by ambient music duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen, which McGregor said would “take you to another world” in a different kind of sensory experience.

Atomos is also known for demonstrating 3-D graphics on stage, designed by artist Ravi Deepres.

Its Seoul performance was part of British Council’s “UK/Korea 2017-18” program that will bring the UK’s latest arts and creative projects here.

The show will be held 8 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday at LG Arts Center in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, and tickets range from 40,000 won to 80,000 won.

For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com.

By Yoon Min-sik