Hakanaï: A Duet Between Dancer and Light
Without any context, you could mistake it for a scene from Tron or Metropolis. It’s a glimpse into a scientific and fictional utopia far removed from the present day that we can only scratch our heads at and think, “Oh, that would be cool.”
A simple grid of light responds to the body movements of a dancer without hesitation and without pre-programming. I’m not breaking any ground when I say technology advances daily, but this performance art makes that tired idea seem a bit more inspired.
Hakanaï, a digital solo performance from Adrien M/ Claire B, is a wholly unique experience each time that it’s presented.
The first moments are simple. They show the dancer in a prison of digitally produced light so seemingly separate from the performer that, without question, you intend to focus all your attention on the dancer. The light is a fine aesthetic choice, only to enhance the performance. Then it starts. Then she moves. The static grid of light manipulated by a single movement becomes far more than just an environment – her fellow performer and your eyes are torn between the two of them.
As it bends and changes, the light appears almost organic and, if you were to see the performance again, even more so with each time the visuals and sounds are composed live. This isn’t some pre-set laser light show at Mount Rushmore with a performance as predictable as the landmark’s location. Instead, this is a true interaction between human and technology.
The technicalities of the programming behind the installation and getting the digital to respond to the physical is a feat to be applauded many times over, but when Claire Bardainne spoke to The Creators Project, she stated, “It’s like puppetry, a digital puppetry,” highlighting the true accomplishment and making it all appear natural.
It’s in creating the unbreakable thread between performer and light that this installation truly succeeds, and that thread gets woven stronger and stronger throughout the performance. It’s an uncanny reminder of nature’s web.
Not one aspect of the natural world is solely independent and without influence on anything in its surroundings. In comparison, the digital world has always been a deep contrast in that it’s usually confined to a box. Sure, it can improve the way humans interact with one another, but the technology itself has remained a separate component. The inventive use of programming in this installation challenges that notion, and questions the limits of technology and its place in the world and the future.
The relationship between humans and technology is more convoluted and interwoven with each scientific achievement. The line between the two worlds is blurring, but the digital can never replace the organic – only imitate it at best.
Hakanaï presents the audience with a seamless duet of projected light and dancer. Even then, a human presence is required for final finesse and a sense of sensitivity – and sensitivity is not something that a jumble of numbers and letters can communicate.