We plunge back in to the weird world of House Of Kenzo, this time created by Sam Rolfes for the 2018 edition of Unsound.
After the abrupt end to our first playthrough of Sam Rolfes’ residency, it took us a few days to get the office PC working again. After some intensive repairs and some frantic back-and-forth with our technical team, we managed to boot up the latest version of the program again, only to find ourselves thrust back into the weird world of House Of Kenzo.
In this session we are introduced to the esoteric, tarot-inspired characters that populate the digital landscape Team Rolfes created for House Of Kenzo’s performance at the 2018 edition of Unsound. Taking us through Rolfes’ unique application of motion capture, a central component of Team Rolfes’ performance practice, the Rolfes avatar introduces us to some of these characters, before allowing us to inhabit their bodies and interact with the surrounding environment as we briefly become actors on Rolfes’ digital stage.
Drawing from his visual arts background, Rolfes composes his images with a painter’s perspective, guiding us across a flat background set back from a hellish assemblage of the denizens of House Of Kenzo, which include a duck-billed skeletal angel with “aggressive hips” and a “dog-face, armless freak show”. Figures are replicated, enlarged and modified, each becoming a brush in Rolfes’ digital palette, in which variations in size and scale become the different components of a complete image.
It is this sense of scale that Rolfes experiments with throughout the piece, arranging every element in a coherent space before zooming in and out to explore the micro and macro of the world he has created. His improvisational choreography echoes throughout this performance ecosystem, with simple gestures controlling everything from the flick of a wrist to the trajectory of a halo of floating chalices and the lumbering motion of gigantic creatures silhouetted against a hot pink horizon.
Rolfes constructs an environment through which movement can flow freely, rendering his digital surroundings as architecture for a uniquely theatrical extension of his own physical expression, opening up new possibilities for live improvisational performance. This unorthodox application of motion capture technology allows Team Rolfes to develop a hybrid visual language with which they can mount a holistic exploration of artistic space, extending the physical into the virtual, before experimenting with how a performer’s physicality might translate across these scenarios.
For more information about Sam Rolfes and his work you can follow him on Instagram.
Watch next: Sam Rolfes Presents – Stage One – House Of Kenzo