CHUNKY MOVE: Mortal Engine

For someone who has only ever known what I have seen on dance competition show as what a dancer must do and be like I was incredibly surprised when I just stumble across CHUNKY MOVE‘s performance Mortal Engine.

Chucky Move are a contemporary dance company from Melbourne, Australia. A focus of the collective is to explore the different forms of new media in the way they pertained to the human experience of the world. This is a practice that layers choreography with music and light in a way that dissects the attitudes toward the advancing technological culture and how it affects human behaviour.

Mortal Engine is a performance that pairs distortion, pixilation and scratching generally found in analogue media with the high-tech video-tracking projection which follows and interacts with the moving bodies on stage. I find it interesting that one would use the presumed failures of these previous technologies and then pair it with successful new programs. It is as though the distortion, pixilation and scratchings have been revaluated to discover their worth is an artistic practise – breathing new life if you will.

The performers in this routine are constantly put in positions where they are attempting to make a connection with each other. Lights shimmer on the bodies, it follows and lags, and it overcomes these figures as they navigate amongst all of the activity projected onto them.

At the core of Mortal Engine are the ways we connect with each other and the limits of the human body in an ever-changing cosmos. All of the distortion, pixilation and scratching that is projected onto the beings disrupts connections. It limits, however it also aids different forms of communications. There are moments where pixilation’s transfer across different bodies, or mazes link disparate dancers.

There is a mood and a response to media as art in this piece that can lead itself to both positive and negative readings of the attitude it presents. One could say that it reinforces a sense of isolation and a breaking down of human interaction that exist given the rise of the new and digital. Or, one could read it as an evolution of the human experience; one where connecting with others will become something deeper and something different.

I think this is a beautiful work, so I guess am more inclined to agree with the latter. But where ever you stand I think it’s hard to deny that Chucky Move’s Mortal Engine is anything but an absolutely immersive and thrilling viewing experience.

For tickets, coming shows and other details on Chuncky Move continue to their website here.

Words by Luke Letourneau