A fleshy encounter with Ulysses
A report by Nadia Palliser on Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca's performance "Afasia."
The screen starts off with a peaceful and animated pool of water, crickets chirping in the background, as the robotics at the front, like ourselves, await the performer. The gadget-man appears with dramatic gestures, Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca in full gear: wires attached to shoulders, metal knobs weighing down his chest, legs and arms strapped with sensors, metal-tipped fingers covered in plastic gloves. Firstly, introducing the musical robots, Antúnez pushes their acoustics into loud exhaustion: "Rob Guitarra" - wailing and high-pitched, "Rob Violin" - sensual and soft-tempered, "Rob Percu" - butchy and drumming, "Rob Brases" - whistling and fluty. Notwithstanding the techno fetish however, the story of Ulysses begins on the screen or at least a personal version of the epic: after the fire of Troy, Ulysses is banned to sea, now as a yellow figure rocking on a bed, moving from right to left as Antúnez changes the direction with his interactive finger. While the storm continues on the screen, a turmoil of sound comes from "Rob Guitarra", provoked by the outstretched arms and legs of Antúnez. As he elaborates eclectically on the bizarre islands to which Ulysses is drawn, the animated scene changes as the Cyclops appears. Antúnez shouts and growls, comically making the one-eyed bogyman radically change shape; multiple tentacles and eyes spreading out and back again at the tone of his manipulated voice. The tale of the Cyclops continues in the style of La Fura dels Baus, fleshy encounters now forced upon the retina. Wrapped in intestines, bowls and gristle, Catalunian fever takes over: surrealistic scenes of Antúnez stitched up in a suit of sausages, (very funnily putting one of his sausage fingers into a hot frying pan!), writhing bodies wrapped in plastic cocoons pricked by the fork of the cyclops (as rather bright blood spurts to all sides). Followed by Antunez's bodily indulgences... licking, sucking, grabbing, you name it, Ulysses, the yellow man is horny. Bombarded by the smutty changes on the screen, in the midst of his acoustic slaves, Antúnez enthusiastically runs around his very own playground, each robot replying obediently in turn. As the drum hits, Antúnez beats his chest in ultimate machismo while the complying "Rob Violin" bows down to his grand manoeuvres. The interaction between animated screen and robotica remains distinct however as the story of Ulysses fragments; disappointingly, he passes the island of the Sirenes quite hastily, an island of montaged breasts! All in all, as predictable and victorious as the ending may seem, he returns to child and wife after his eccentric adventures (though tragically in the Odyssee, Ulysses is only recognized by his dog) - his multiple efforts of media variation are quite daring? Like it or walk away in disgust - perhaps Afasia is a matter of taste, but at least Antúnez Roca shows guts, literally; twisting the very slickness of interactivity into an explosion of humorous obscenity, acoustic noise, visual animation and robotic sensation.
Nadia Palliser, 14 November 2000.