Ecosophical audiovisual design for
Kurtág - Attila József, Fragments
This project presents a relational process that draws on the interconnection of mind, society, and environment for the audiovisual design of Kurtág - Attila József Fragments, performed by opera singer Judit Molnar and audiovisual artist Kimberley Bianca, on November 29th, 2019 in Australia. Exploring the premise that the ecological values held by media artists are not in line with their praxis, the performance challenges technology-based arts through embodied ecosophical praxis.
Kurtág's fragments were composed of the poetry of interwar writers, specifically Attila József (1905-1937), the "proletariat poet" of Hungary. Kurtág highlights József's mental illness and his infatuation with organic decay. Due to these concepts, three aesthetic themes emerged: organic, political, and personal decay. These themes were mapped with Felix Guattari's "ecosophy," which is the cyclical nature of interrelated ecologies and anthropogenic ecological degradation. Keith Armstrong's "ecosophical praxis", based on Guattari's ecosophy, was embodied for the audiovisual performance design, proposing a form of art practice on the understanding that our ecological crisis is also cultural, driven by our sense of separation from ecology.
The project reviews how Bianca challenged the consumption of technological resources by sourcing original, yet digitally discarded, environmental media for the projection design and the pre-show soundscape. To create an extension of the solo soprano, the audio-visual samples performed between the fragments were created from recordings of Molnar, distorting, manipulating and rearranging her voice. The space design employed bricolage, minimizing the use of materials. The audiovisual design avoided creating "add-on" elements to fulfill the spectacle often expected in opera. With ecosophical praxis, Bianca scoped out a relational, interactive, embodied intervention as a cultural response to environmental crises.