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 Post subject: Darren Johnston – Silicon Sensorium
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2003 10:29 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 107
Location: London, England
Darren Johnston
Silicon Sensorium (Phases 1 & 2)
Purcell Room, 17 & 18 December 2003

Probably the best thing about Darren Johnston's multi-media melee, Silicon Sensorium, is that it is short. Twenty five minutes in each half, which thankfully isn't quite long enough to get bored. Earlier this year Johnston founded Array, an artistic collective working in scenography, design, electronic sound, computer generated imagery and performance, and this is their first product. While the idea of sound/video/dance collaborations always appeals to me (and to the funding boards), in this case, the product of such creative cahoots turned out to be a dud.

Consciously 'techno', the theme is computers and cloning and the effect is aptly soulless. Composer Tom Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher, provides an ear-drilling electronic soundtrack and the first half takes the form of a film. A real-life nuclear bunker is the backdrop – an atmospheric warren of long dark corridors, sinister machines and banks of computers – peopled by (literally) faceless scientists in white coats and a robotic cyborg kept captive.

In the second half, our cyborg (Johnston) is on stage, trapped in a transparent pod, watched by cameras from every angle. He wears a monochrome body suit and a shiny white mask in a glum expression. He slowly finds movement in his limbs, mundane motions, but doesn't get as far as creating character or exploring the space. There's one great moment where Johnston moves to the front of his pod, right up to the glass, and his masked face stares straight out at the audience. It's a startling confrontation and almost the start of something interesting. Almost.

While it's essential that young artists are able to experiment with new ideas and forms, simply working with 'multi-media' or ' experimental technology' is no longer enough to form the basis of a performance. Array need to find some substance for their work or a more effective way of communicating their ideas before the final phase of Silicon Sensorium is completed next spring.


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 Post subject: Re: Darren Johnston – Silicon Sensorium
PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2003 10:31 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 107
Location: London, England
In case you want to follow the Array collective's development, there's a website www.array.uk.com that should be up in the new year


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 Post subject: Re: Darren Johnston – Silicon Sensorium
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 1:22 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Darren Johnston
By Allen Robertson for The Times


IF THERE were a Turner Prize for dance, Darren Johnston would undoubtedly be on the shortlist. With his penchant for multimedia experimentation he is clearly someone who enjoys pushing the envelope in a quest for alternatives to the standard theatre experience. And like all Turner Prize nominees he seems to relish the courting of creative controversy.
Johnston’s “wave of the future” approach started winning him awards in 1999 while he was still a student at the Laban Centre. Other gongs from the Continent have followed and it’s undeniable that his productions have a distinctively impressive gloss.

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