Afasia, an interactive multimedia performance first shown in 1998 at the National Theater of Catalunya of Barcelona, combines elements of music, robots and electronics. On the stage, the Catalan artist Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca controls sounds, images and four robots with interfaces attached to his body, entering a complex polylog with the machines and different characters taken from the story of Ulysses. Antúnez develops in this work an audiovisual and scenic ride, whose central axis is the concept of travel, ranging from the mythic journey to the virtual topographies of the current digital era.
Afasia, a 'technological ceremony', moves between the visual and the dramatic, investigating the possibilities of hypermedia and interactivity as muzes drift in real-time. Inspired by the Odyssey, the epic poem of Homer, virtual images, interactive sounds, robots, lights and actions take the never-ending travels of Ulysses for a ride. Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca, the only human performer, stands on the stage, wrapped in an exterior skeleton made of plastic and metal. As he moves in his interfaced cocoon - a network of switches measured to the body - instructions are sent to the central computer. All control interfaces, artificial vision and the exterior skeleton are connected to the central computer, the 'prime mover' of the piece, taking in signals and distributing them once again to the different peripheral devices. Wishing to reveal all protocols to the public, formats are tested, together with the corporal interface; the body becomes an active link within a hyper-environment.
The musical robots called "Rob Guitarra", "Rob Violin", "Rob Percu" and "Rob Brases" break out in interactive concert, triggered by Roca's movement. Two applications are used to control the robots, the visuals and the music: Roca calls them 'Lut' and 'Rizo'. The lut programmes work with a flexible time duration; melodies can be interpreted and improvised in tune with the bodily movement of Roca, also synchronized with the visual elements, sound and robotics. The Rizo application, on the other hand, controls loops and short video clips. Filmed previously, the 'rizos' intersect the performance every so often as virtual mini-scenes; selected, started, repeated, slowed and terminated. The 'rizos' are a narrative support to the interactive landscape of the voyage, running from 'Batailla' (battle) to 'Hades', filling the screen sporadically with 'virtual actors'. Being both narrator and protagonist, both 'Homer' and 'Ulysses' in the midst of high-tech transitions, Roca makes his own version of the story, untied from the original in an explosive real-time of intersecting mediations. Tensions between the primitive and the technological might surface, yet Roca insists there is a continuity in the cultural elements which precede the latest technological developments - These points in reference cannot be forgotten: the cultural point of view, sensual capacity in general and its perceptive formation. This is why he took The Odyssee as a base, mutating contents as myth and media collide. The unstoppable transformation of the textual into the audio-visual in this multi-media performance thus illustrates Afasia literally - a loss of language due to cerebral disturbance.
Afasia by Marcel.li Antunez Roca (1998) from V2_ on Vimeo.
Supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Spain.