A cyber a cappela Dataist opera in the eye of the information storm
New Joy 2019 - Eleanor Bauer

(A Dutch version of this text will follow soon) 

Nothing to do with happiness, optimism, or causal affections (those would all fall under the category of “Old Joy”), New Joy incites a hyper realist, perhaps accelerationist, poetically opportunistic confrontation with the apparent chaos, excess, and absurdity of public life and communication in the post-truth information age. From nihilist relativism to ecstatic relationalism, and from meaninglessness to meaning-excess, New Joy spins off from the moment of transformation when one gives into the overwhelming flow of intel bits, sound bytes, and conflicting views. Leaning into the incoherence, New Joy seeks movement with the currents to cypher new sense from apparent nonsense. In wild and inclusive poetics written through and around the interactions between people and machines, New Joy reflects the socially entropic movement from truth to meaning, the intellectual drift from knowledge to information to noise, and the ontological jungle of post-truth, constructing tiny negentropic loops and eddies in the debris of bit rot, brain drain, misdirected intelligence, and coexistent contradictory realities. On a cobbled life raft of beautiful messes and dark humor, New Joy burns a (mis)guiding light in the fog and clutter of the information sea. Attending to the murmurs of the multitude with exactitude, New Joy is about how to make sense today – in the movement from nonsense, to nuisance, to new sense.

Rather than the emergence of “post-truth” being a harbinger for the loss of grip on reality as a set of “universally” shared agreements, what if post-truth forces us to navigate more carefully the way we understand each other, and advance our participation in the ways reality is constructed today? Minding the infinite interlocking contingencies of individual subjects as complex systems in interaction with other complex systems, how could living in a post-truth era lead to greater pluralism, greater sensitivity to difference, through new forms of expression and interpretation, other ways of listening, seeing, sensing, and understanding others? In a state of information vertigo, when the figurative “ground beneath our feet” seems farther and farther away, or shakier by the day, what happens when we stop looking for gravity? How can we become more supple and subversive agents in the proliferation of meanings that participate in the production of reality as we’ve known it and constructed it together until now?

In the era of big data, cloud computing, machine learning, and algorithmic programming, computers are shaping our lives on a time and quantity scale faster and vaster than ever before. While billions of users, content providers, programmers, platforms, algorithms, and devices generate and organize copious amounts of data, machines are increasingly responsible for deciphering relevance. In this relatively recent form of meaning production, how have our personal and social capacities evolved to process the excess, and to detect the patterns that shape our perceptions? How actively or passively do we parse out information from noise, create meaning, make sense to and with each other? How can we advance our collaboration with each other and machines towards new forms of understanding? What formula marries the computational power of artificial intelligence with the affective acuity of emotional intelligence? What cyborg love child of intuition and calculation can hack the attention economy’s grip on our consciousness, our time, our souls?

Facing the challenges of making sense today, New Joy imagines a 21st century version of Dadaism, as Dataism. Jumping registers between different media of thought – from body language to spoken language to computer language and back again; from emotional intelligence to artificial intelligence; from movement to sound and from pressure to pitch; crossing aesthetic, social, and informational values and inventing translations between them – New Joy is a cyber a cappela Dataist opera in the eye of the information storm, New Joy engages all of the senses in an unsupervised training program for humans grappling with the present tense.

Concept and Direction Eleanor Bauer & Chris Peck Created with and performed by William Bartley Cooper, Kevin Fay, Gina Haller, Michael Lippold, Veronika Nickl, Anouk Peeters Text Eleanor Bauer, Chris Peck and the performers Choreography Eleanor Bauer Music Chris Peck Scenography Karel Burssens & Jeroen Verrecht / 88888 with Sofie Durnez Costumes Sofie Durnez Instrument design research assistant Diez Roggisch Sound Design/Live Electronics Lukas Tobiassen Light Design Bernd Felder Rehearsal and Creation Assistance Gaël Santisteva Schauspielhaus Bochum Assistant Director Annett Jarewski Vocal coaching and Outside Eye Fabienne Seveillac

Production Schauspielhaus Bochum (Germany) and Good Move (Belgium) With funding support from The Flemish Authorities (Belgium)