Zoe Séance is an interactive performance project developed by transmedia artists Panja Göbel and Unnur Andrea Einarsdóttir especially for the Lothringer 13 Halle.
In this participatory project the audience is invited to embark on a journey of self-transformation. On the 9th and 10th December the artists will lead a series of ritual seances that are powered by emerging technologies. The participants will explore their relationship to their human identity and a possible amalgamation with non-human others via a tablet containing an augmented reality app and a brain wave measuring headset.
What does it mean to be human in a time of constant change, where one crisis follows the other? How can we adapt our subjective embodiments to an increasingly unstable future?
The project sees a possible answer to these questions in the theories of the feminist posthumanist Rosi Braidotti, for whom subjectivity is always already in motion and bodies only materialise in the nomadic act of becoming other or alien.
Braidotti therefore proposes a concept of embodiment, which she calls zoe and which is based on three fundamental metamorphoses: that of becoming animal, that of becoming earth and that of becoming machine. She thus develops a model of affective care, of "caring otherwise", by designing playful and life-affirming figurations that prepare the ground for porous subjectivities, fluid identities and multiple interrelationships between them.
Zoe Séance takes up these speculative figurations and translates them into an offer of personalised transformational experience via an AR app: digital face filters with non-human actors such as animals, plants and technologies are presented on a tablet acting as a mirror, whilst a brain wave measuring headset feeds the participants personal brain wave data into the transformation and alters it according to it. Speech, live sound and various scents create an atmosphere in which the participants enter a collective "alpha state of mind".
As with traditional séances, the focus is on connecting with the invisible and immaterial within the temporary community of participants. The performance asks profound questions about how we come to terms with this fluid shift in our identity and hopes to initiate a rethinking of our purpose and position on this planet.
The project will then move into an exhibition phase: While the ritual setting will remain in the hall as an installation, it will be complemented by the video documentation of the séance.
Panja Göbel and Unnur Andrea Einarsdóttir collaborated for several performances at the All Women’s Networked Jam Sessions and Corona Improv at the Ars Electronica Festival 2020 in Linz. Developed across the distance between London, Reykjavík, Berlin and Munich, Zoe Séance is their first live collaboration in Germany.
The project is being curated by Lisa Paland.
Software development: Alex Brigden, Jayson Haebich and Panja Göbel