Ahead of its avant-premiere at Brighton Dome as part of Brighton Digital Festival, international dance artist Matthew Morris discusses disconcerting dance work GøL4M
A pioneering collaboration between the ingenious and visionary French choreographer Frederic Deslias, his company Le Clair Obscur and UK based artist Matthew Morris, GøL4M seeks to explore the relationship between man and technology.
‘Does man govern machine or does machine govern man? I was trying to find a harmony within that’, explains Morris, who performs the solo piece.
‘Golem is based on a creature from Jewish mythology. This is a creature that God creates out of sand and mud to become something he can control. [In GøL4M] I am this creature that is built from an idea of technology or a scientific exploration.’
The piece - which has been co-programmed in partnership with South East Dance - is heavily influenced by science fiction and imagines this post-human being mutating from the relentless advance of digital technology. With electricity as the central medium of the piece - acting as the bridge between the flesh and silicon, the spark of life and magnetism - Morris quite literally performs with lightning, moving and interacting with a Tesla coil to create a visually stunning and unique performance.
‘I was apprehensive when I thought of those 45,000 volts. One day I held up this metal object for the lightning to arc out at, and this massive electrical shock ran up my left arm!’ he says.
‘I like those elements that really propose a real visceral and corporal element to the work which challenges me as a performer. You know, I don’t want to die - I did say goodbye to my mother just in case! - but it really does challenge this aspect of performance, and what is performance, and how close we can get to these incredible experiences?’
It’s not the only daunting moment in the show for Morris - GøL4M begins with him ‘being born’ from underneath stretched latex… something not entirely comfortable for the performer.
‘I’m vacuum packed under this latex. There’s a fear in such a closed environment…not being able to breathe. To work through that process as a performer, you know, contained in such an environment and your physicality is compromised and even, you know, the element of breath is compromised, I strangely like submitting myself to these experiments. I think Frédéric is quite excited that I do,’ he laughs.
‘So long as the performance can go on and I can live through to tell the tale, then that’s ok!’
GøL4M has its avant-premiere on Tuesday 23 September at 6pm and 8.30pm as part of Brighton Digital Festival's Digital Dance Week. For tickets, click here. For the full interview, listen to Brighton Dome’s GøL4M podcast here.