My work builds from two core axioms:
Form should evolve to fit its content.
Art and science are porous, co-constructing fields.
I work in a number of theatrical modes: large scale augmented reality (AR) performance experiences, lecture-performance works, and new media content. I also work in literary fiction. I am a transmedia artist, and many of my works inhabit the same storytelling universe.
I begin each project by identifying the essential ideas around which to build the work. For example, I recently developed an audio AR game, Heisenberg, for the High Line. In Heisenberg several hundred participants wear audio headsets that wirelessly deliver randomized tracks with narrative, instruction, and an original musical score. Convergence and divergence between the tracks and between participants’ movements and actions create moments of whimsy and emotional inquiry. I developed this audio AR form around the questions of uncertainty and disconnection I was investigating following the 2016 US election. I wanted to blend old technologies (radio, oral storytelling) and new ones (gaming, AR) to surprise audience members into exploring, playing, and interacting meaningfully with strangers. The form was thus a natural outcome of the work’s central concerns.
I make distinctly posthuman performance work that is also very human. I take concepts at nonhuman scales—subatomic particles, celestial objects, systems of power—and bring them to the level of human concern, even if just for an impossible moment. I use these outsized subjects to investigate intimate social questions around uncertainty, consciousness, and loneliness.
I am constantly on the lookout for personhood in unexpected places. I construct experiences where time, space, and bodies are toss-ups, up for negotiation. To me, staging a play means staging moments for audience members to play.
I am interested in pushing collective imagination around what theater is, and what its constituent parts are. Who is directing whom? Who are the actors? Who is the audience and what is the stage? I make work assuming none of these are certainties, with only a commitment to dramatic, poetic storytelling. I have loyalty to creation but not to form.
My work is also rooted in deep collaborations with scientists. I seek to innovate on how arts and sciences can inform one another—where we as artists do not extractively mine science as content, but instead develop meaningful exchanges with scientists around our fields’ research and compositional practices. Currently, I am artist-in-residence with the brown dwarf astrophysics research group at the American Museum of Natural History. There, I work alongside the astrophysicists to discover the history of the universe and humanity’s relationship to it. Through this consistent, organic, and incremental process, what emerges is a compelling portrait of what art and science share, and the intriguing ways in which we differ. Art and science are two modes of inquiry into many of the same questions—all infinite, ambitious, and hugely curious.
I frequently write from the perspective of the nonhuman characters of science: a dataset, a brown dwarf, an octopus. Through these voices I reflect back to scientists the objects of their work, and also invite the broader public to see the resonances between science and our most pressing social questions. For example, my current project Rogue Objects is another audio AR game, this one from the perspective of a brown dwarf object struggling with feeling conscious in an unconscious universe.
Finally, I am invested in developing new processes alongside new forms—particularly bold processes of collaboration and research between and amongst fields. I like to start any project with more questions than answers, and then end it with even more questions.
My favorite question is “what is it?”.