HOLOSCENES is a suite of multi-format artworks that manifest states of drowning — both in water and the larger systems of our own devising — in order to directly connect the short-term, everyday behaviors of individuals to the long-term patterns driving global climate change. HOLOSCENES re-imagines historical antecedents of public spectacle, and simultaneously translates related streams of scientific investigation into a visual, visceral, and public address in urban communal space that challenges our personal and collective capacities for long-term thinking and empathy.
The heart of HOLOSCENES is a large-scale performance installation and intervention in urban public space — such as a metropolitan plaza, city park, courtyard of a science institution, or hub of an arts festival — featuring three custom-made aquariums (10’ cubes of transparent acrylic raised 4’ above the ground) set proximate to one another and viewable from 360 degrees. Each is inhabited by a performer conducting an everyday behavior — highly choreographed secular or sacred habits with attendant objects, costumes, and utterances — gathered and shared with us by collaborators in 52 locations in 38 countries.
As water fills and empties from each tank at varying intervals and rates by way of a sophisticated hydraulic system, the choreography of the performers, the appearance of costumes, the functioning of objects, all change. Pushed to the top of the aquariums for air, the performers dive below, where they adapt their behavior to the new underwater environment. As water drains, the performers continue, soaked by these mini-floods, aware that the water will soon rise again. The ebb and flow of water and the resulting modified behaviors will conjure mythic, historical, and coming environmental tragedies as the performers, carrying out their actions, offer complex human portraits of myopia, persistence, and adaptation.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (February 2014)