The Museum of Contemporary Cuts is proud to announce two performances by Michaela Davies, Duty and Untitled for Cyborg String Quartet that will take place at the Elytra Filament Pavilion in the John Madejski Garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum. This project titled Sound Politics was supported by the Museum of Contemporary Cuts, and the Australian Council for the Arts, and made possible by the curatorial effort of Lanfranco Aceti (Director, Arts Administration at Boston University) and Irini Papdimitriou (Programme Manager, Digital Programmes @ V&A).

Davies’ performance artworks blend engineering, the body and electric stimulation, removing control of the muscles from people’s consciousness and transferring it to an external source: a remote control that dictates individual movement according to ‘other’ parameters. It is a process that obliges the viewer to confront the contemporary engineering of society, the meaning of what it is to be part of a mass controlled by electric impulses (media impulses) and what is the tune that we are all dancing to.

The performances become a mesmerizing moment in which the wrestled control of the human body – allocated to this ‘other’ entity – brings to mind dystopian scenarios which, like the Elytra Filament Pavilion, reconnect not just structures but people’s bodies as well, according to external parameter upon which individuals have increasingly less and less control.

The performances are poetical, highly conceptual, sound based – since there is a music score that dictates people movements and shapes the music emanating by these involuntary movements.

Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera come to mind in the analysis of an engineered society in which voluntary and involuntary participation blend in this continued struggles between the demos’ desire for freedom and oligarchic institutional control.

The themes raised by Davies’ performances could not be more topical, in a moment in which people attempt to wrestle back control from supra-state institutions, state institution and shadowy corporate and financial entities.

The sounds of Davies’ works of art – because these performances are ephemeral works of art – conjure the vision of a world in turmoil, a world that we are trying to understand and contribute to and within which we appear to be more and more both involuntary spectators and participants.

Michaela Davies’ performances, Duty and Untitled for Cyborg String Quartet, will take place at the John Madejski Garden from 12.00 – 13.00 and 15.00 – 16.00 on Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25, 2016.

A publication supported by AHRC and designed by Uniform including contributions from participating artists and designers will be distributed free during the event.

Image © NAARO via the V&A.