Our future; our best chance of surviving it.

Aeon Industries artistic director Alex Hoban devised a new concept, approach, narrative arc and interaction design for an interactive dance show that was taken & adapted by Pell Ensemble, with whom he worked to implement an interactive dance performance toured first as ‘David’ and then subsequently ‘Upload/Unlpug’. This R&D piece let the audience use their mobile phones or tablets to control the movement and outcome of a performance. The piece was funded by Arts Council of Great Britain and was premiered in London before touring regionally.

Through the mobile web app, viewers connected directly to David on the stage, and through a series of mobile-enabled thought experiments, we were able to test their sentiments and desires, meaning each show was uniquely tailored to that audience's inputs. The integrated mix of projection, technology and dance was Aeon Industries' first round experiment with Human-Computer Interaction systems for purely artistic purposes, and has subsequently opened the door for us working with new, more innovative approaches to man/machine interface beyond the limitations of a mobile phone.

Concept: Alex Hoban & Pell Ensemble
Creative & Interaction Design: Alex Hoban & Ray Cheung
Choreography: Rebecca Evans in collaboration with the Dancers
Set Design: Clarisse O'Dell
App Design: John Kavanagh
Photography & Video: Mira Loew
Dancers: David Ogle & Stefania Pinato
Text: Adam Peck
Producer: Step Out Artists
Show Composition: Ehud Freeman

Conceptual development, Design + Choreography



“Under the guise of providing information for the fictional conglomerate giant EPOQ, Pell Ensemble have produced an immersive experience from the moment you step into the theatre. As speakers echo instructions about the ‘on-boarding’ process, 40 members of the audience are handed tablets that become interactive throughout the show, prompting you to fill out a survey with as much personal information as you wish to divulge.

You’d be right to feel this survey was invasive, as after a heavily choreographed group dance given by performers from Teesside University, we see our information become part of a spectacular technological projection swirling around the lead performer of ‘David’. Amongst a sterile setting of white clothing on a white background, titters from the audience rippled after spotting their own selfies projected onto the screen, lightening what becomes a 35-minute solo contemporary dance number.

Described as a live gaming experience, Upload/Unplug does disperse simple interactive games throughout, where your proficiency at completing tasks directly affects the dance of AI/Human hybrid, ‘David’. Open-ended and, at a time when data privacy is more important than ever, the show leaves you wondering what the information you give day to day is being used for. More of a dance exhibition than a theatre show, Upload/Unplug leaves you unsettled about the world you’re about to step back into.”

Original App Interface Designs:

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