The Honorable Mr. Gwyn´s Brotherhood:
We are our greatest ghost
Original Idea: Mariana Hartasánchez and Ismael Gimate
Director, multimedia artist and producer: Ismael Gimate
Playwright and Performer: Mariana Hartasánchez
Structure and light designer: Fernando Flores
“Self-portraits” is the first part of a global project which is named “The Honorable Mr. Gwyn´s Brotherhood”. Mr. Gwyn, written by Alessandro Baricco, inspired us to develop the two stages that compose this general artistic proposal. Baricco tells a story about a writer who, tired of his homologues, decides to stop publishing best sellers and gets himself secluded in a very small room. He invites different persons who can be in the mood for being “literary portrayed”. The intimate experiment is taken to the extreme point of revealing complete unknown perceptions about humanity. The writer realizes that he never saw anybody with enough empathy nor attention, although he has had spent his entire life telling stories.
In this work we pretend, precisely, to reveal for each member of the audience an unsuspected point of view about identity. In this times we are exposed, frenetically and obsessively, to the exterior world of social media, and at the same time, we are looking to an immense variety of photographs and messages sent by colleagues, family, friends and strangers. We have few or none spaces for intimate retrieve and meditation. If a person finds itself permanently tied to a virtual presence, its subjective construction fades away, because there won´t be any time to articulate complex and personal ideas. We believe on the relevance of opening spaces for reflection, for questions. It is not about infringing the spectator´s privacy but to walk along with each guest trough an emotive and artistic path that leads to the hidden places of a forgotten consciousness.
The project is fully interdisciplinary because, although the main component are the interactive video projections, the essential theatrical and musical atmospheres supports the immersive experience.
“Self-portraits” were developed successfully at Museo de la Ciudad, in Querétaro, on August and September 2018. The next stage, “The subtle veil of memory”, is now being developed.
This installation was born in a close room of the Museo de la Ciudad (an important cultural precinct located in the city of Querétaro, Mexico). Using video projections as the main component, a series of images and sound atmospheres were recreated to receive one member of the audience at a time and guide him or her trough an intimate journey along a personal and iconic memory. The silhouette of the guest interacted with the video projections.
The installation admits only one spectator at a time, because the experience is expected to be as personal and intimate as it could be. Before accessing into the room, each member of the audience must fill a format in which they reveal some memory that can help us to generate the self-portrait. The formats includes specific questions about a beloved object, an unknown place or a special day in which the spectator felt recognized or beloved. After this, the spectator gets into the intervened space, where its image was projected over predetermined images. An improvised story, based on the memory that the spectator shared, must be told at a microphone that disseminates narrator´s soft and close voice throughout the room.
In order to achieve our goal we are using technological tools such as Kinects (tracking sensor and infrared camera). Because we need to recognize the movement pattern as well as the location and the shape of the spectator, this kind of electronic device fits quite well to our conceptual and aesthetical tasks.
The member of the audience never realizes who are operating this immersive illusion because the artists always remain out of site, behind a 3.5 meters tall and 8 wide curve screen. It is vital to maintain the sensation of privacy and intimacy. Although both, the visual artist and the performer, improvises in real time a personalized story for the guest, there are predetermined video projection effects that reacts depending on the spots of the room where the spectators moves trough.
Ismael Gimate operates the video projections and, depending on each particular guest, reveal the images and selects the musical environment.
Mariana Hartasánchez is in charge of telling improvised new stories that are conceived instantaneously, taking as a starting point the formats that were filled by each member of the audience.
Fernando Flores, a recognized light and set designer, built up the screen in which the images were projected, he also installs for each presentation video and audio system. Lighting is carefully designed in order to receive our guests warmly.
The central concept of this installation remains in generating emotions and thoughts about memory´s vulnerability. What we think is written in stone gets modified depending on the events of our lives. We lose details, amplified sensations, exaggerates passages, visit obsessively some instants. This memory inconsistence, that determines our identity, will be shown in a poetical way. Far away from social media, lives our truthful self.
The musical and sound recreations generates evocative environments that must softly guide the spectator´s emotional perception. The images, almost all of them related to open and natural views, are saturated of special details that turns them into magical and oniric places. The interaction with the audience is crucial, lighting, sound transmission and video projections will react spontaneously at movement´s speed and quality. The visual effects, such as particles, coloured silhouettes and blurred shapes, will walk along with the guests.
The main objective of this work is to let the audience inhabit literally the art piece. Each spectator can look itself from unexpected angles, because it had a chance to find face by face with itself, without the necessity of communicating his discover with anybody else. For an instant the people who gets inside the room can free themselves from the obsession of being always connected. He or she eludes the idea of exteriorizing each idea that appears into their minds.
WE ARE OUR GREATEST GHOST
We are here, at the present time. Our memories remains in the past. We are what we lived, but we will never be again where we have lived. The time is a ghost that pursues us in too many different ways. Throughout the history, humanity has create a lot of ingenious ways to preserve the past, to let us save the precious moments that easily fades away. But the truth is that, no matter how many photographs, videos, voice records or writings we accumulate, there is something that we can´t never capture about ourselves. There is something that is inevitably hiding from the glance of our eyes, something that is there, like an invisible presence, and walks with us along every path we choose to take. That ghost, which Freud named the unconscious, determined our identity. Sometimes, in dreams, we can see, suddenly and momentarily, those ghosts, but their faces are blurred. The ghosts likes to play tricks and use all kinds of masks. But art let us capture those ghosts inside words, images and sounds. Maybe we will never see again our memories in the precise ways in which they actually happened, but what we can see, touch, feel and listen are those memories transfigured into art. We can feel the ghosts and reconciled with them. Maybe it is impossible to fully understand what they are saying to us, but what we can do is to make them present in our hearts, to give them a place in our soul. Ghosts can be less terrifying if they are enclosure inside an art trap, in a melody, in an image, in a story. We are our greatest ghost.
Technical and technological specs of the installation:
All the video projections, sound environments, and the silohuete masks were mixed and edited in real time using Isadora in a MacBook Pro 2012, with a 500 GB SSD and 16 GB of RAM.
To get the silohuete mask of the spectators, we use a Kinect 360 with Ni-Mate software; body image and data position of the bodies were sended to Isadora, where were mixed and edited in real time with the diferent time-lapse images. We use a Matrox TripleHead2Go DP edition to output the video to two BenQ short throw (3200 lumens) video projector.
The voice of the playwrighter was amplified and mixed with the music using a Focusright Scarlet 18i20 interface, and was output thru a Bose and Pioneer speakers system.
The independent collective Sabandijas de Palacio was founded in 2003. This group has, from its starting point, well defined artistic tasks which are always in the seed of every project that is being developed by the members of the crew: The collective constantly involves the audience into immersive experiences that seeks to generate profound thoughts about the way in which a person relates with its social context. We specially value the possibility that every human being must have to find spaces for intimate reflection and philosophical contemplation. Nowadays, there is almost impossible to retreat, to stop the vertiginous communication speed, so we think that arts can offer this unique and rare possibility of leaving the noisy reality outside and let the spectator listen its own voice. We like to open questions, not to give answers. Sometimes, we part from local or specific contents in order to find the universal resonance that those particular images can have. In a great number of our works we reserve a sit of honour for laughter, because we think that one who laughs, do it so because he or she discovered an unusual or absurd point of view about life. To laugh is to understand, to think, to get involved.
For our collective, visual metaphors and sound atmospheres are transcendent at the moment of creating interdisciplinary works. Although theatre is the main discipline in which we are focused, lately, from the past five years until now, we are experimenting with installations and experiences developed in alternative spaces.
Mariana Hartasánchez / Playwright and Performer
Born on 1976 in Mexico City, she began her theatre training at the age of 13 at CADAC (Centro de Arte Dramático A.C.). On 1996 she entered the BA program on Hispanic Language and Literature of UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), and two years later she was accepted in the program for actors training of CUT (Centro Universitario de Teatro). She graduated from both programs on 2002 and on the next year she moved to the city of Querétaro, where she founded “Sabandijas de Palacio”, an independent acting company which she still heads up to this day. On the year of 2009 she opened “El Palacio de las Sabandijas”, a theatre place for her acting company.
She started working as a playwright on the year of 2000; since then, she has received several playwright awards and many special recognitions for her work, such as Bellas Artes National Playwright Award for Young Audiences in 2015, National Playwright Award Manuel Herrera in 2014 and International Writing Award Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz 2011. Her acting company has produced many of her plays and she has directed and acted in some of them. She has been honored with many grants from private and public institutions that support and finance young writers and actors. She has also been invited to participate in international workshops and other programs, such as writing residences: Iberescena Residence for Playwrights, development of the project: El cónclave de los migrantes, 2012; Seminario de Creación Dramatúrgica, organized by Escena Sur en la ciudad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2010; Lark Development Center at Nueva York and FONCA, artistic residence for dramatic writers, 2010; Royal Court Theatre London, artistic residence, one month duration, 2006. Her work has captured the attention of international stage artists: One of her plays, La mano del mago (or Un banjo y dos muertos) was translated to English and Rumanian and presented in the form of a dramatic readings both in New York and in Bucarest. Also, the Spanish theatre director Guillermo Heras was in charge of the staging her farce “La navaja en el espejo”. She has been involved with the collective theatre group “The Internationalists”, in the development of projects that explore the creation and performance of plays in non-conventional theatrical spaces. She has published 17 of her plays.
Ismael Josafat Gimate Baños / Coordinator and general producer of the project and video artist.
Born on 1980 in Mexico City. On 1998 he entered the BA program on Biology at the Science Faculty of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He graduated on 2004 and on the next year he moved to the city of Querétaro to enter to the Biomedical Sciences PhD program at the Neurobiology Institute of the UNAM. In 2010 he joins as a photographer to “Sabandijas de Palacio”. A year later he becomes light technician and also he develops as a producer of the group. He starts working as a video artist in 2012 after he operate the multimedia system for the presentations of the play La Navaja en el Espejo, directed by Guillermo Heras; after that, he was encouraged to develop himself as a video artist. He was specialized as a live editor of video and sound using Isadora software, as his fundamental tool. Since 2012, he has created multimedia compositions for more than 12 theatrical plays with the company, such as Mr. Bright that he also codirected with Mariana Hartasánchez and Fernando Flores. This play was selected to be presented at the 11th monologues fest: Teatro a una sola voz, organized for the INBA in 2015. He also has been created some multimedia interactive pieces for the dance company “Ciudad Interior”, such as Kinetica, that was presented at the International Cervantino Fest in 2015, and in several choreographer festivals in 2016. He has been honored with the Programa de Estímulos para la Creación y Desarrollo Artístico scholarship, in interdisciplinary field, to create the video art work for the play Mr. Bright II, that has several presentations between 2016 and 2017. He was the principal organizer for the Isadora 2.5 workshop imparted by the software designer Mark Coniglio, at the Juan Ruiz de Alarcón theatre at the University Cultural Center of UNAM in 2016. Next year he was invited to the first Festival of Science and Art, “El Aleph” at the University Cultural Center of UNAM, to give a conference about light and video art in contemporary scenic art. In 2017 he obtains the APOYARTE funding from the Secretaría de Cultura de Querétaro, to work in Autorretratos project, an Interactive Theatrical Video Installation created to allow the entrance of only one spectator at once. This piece was exhibited in the Museo de la Ciudad de Querétaro, in august of 2018.