"Epizoo" (1994) by Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca is a mechatronic performance.


Epizoo presented at V2_; photo: Jan Sprij

A bizarre mixture of performance and installation. That is the interactive work Epizoo with which artist Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca submits himself to the whims of the audience. Computer graphics, sounds and all kinds of movements of the artist are being controlled by a mighty viewer behind a video monitor with touch screen. Like a living sculpture, Antúnez Roca places himself on a wooden platform. Pneumatically movable mechanisms are connected to nose, mouth, ears, glutea and pectora. The audience is standing around the Spaniard while one of them is going to give pain or pleasure to the body draped in technology for the next couple of minutes. A promotion video shows what can happen, since each session results in different sounds, movements and images. It is enough to move a finger over the monitor. It shows an electronic representation of Antúnez Roca's body, placed in a yellow halo or as a little kicking body under an enormous head. The image on the monitor is also projected onto the wall so that everybody can see what happens. The person at the touch screen has started a rhythmical synthesizer sound. Antúnez Roca's virtual abdomen turns around and a pair of gigantic buttocks comes into view. Without mercy, the person at the screen lets an electronic knife hack into it. On the wooden platform, Antúnez Roca's flesh moves just as intensely.

There are gentler options as well. A virtual dog's wet tongue caresses pectorals of flesh and blood. But when attributes like pincers and a pair of scissors start on Antúnez Roca's nipples, he wriggles in strange convolutions. Now it's the turn of the head. Antúnez Roca's mouth, nose and ears display an extreme flexibility when they are pulled every which way in a series of bizarre grimaces. Pressure on the forehead is apparently painful because the artist starts screaming loudly. All lights are extinguished and burning gases spout from his head. Then, a moment of tranquility, before the next spectator's turn comes up.

In 1984, the visual artist Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca founded the provocating and innovating performance company La Fura dels Baus. For the last five years he has worked on his own. Amongst other things, he designed a robot partially made of flesh, and made sculptures from the remains of slaughtered pigs. Just like Epizoo, pieces that often repel the audience. But the artist is concerned with more than a simple shock effect. In the 'European Magazine' he says: It creates an ethical dilemma, because you are manipulating a human being and actually causing pain. In Mexico a couple of people turned off the computer, because they disapproved so strongly. I am not a sadomasochist. There are more important issues at work: the depersonalisation of human relationships, the blurred boundary between sex and power, and the use of computers as instruments of control.

from the report Audience manipulates body.

Epizoo performed during DEAF 95:

Epizoo by Marcel.Lí Antúnez Roca (1995) from V2_ on Vimeo.

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