Performers: Jim Ashilevi, Rene Köster, Kaido Torn, Minna-Triin Kohv
Artist: Kaitlin Pirnpuu
Sound design: Kenn-Eerik Kannike
Light design: Rommi Ruttas
Video artist: Ragnar Markus
Software solutions: Kert Ojasoo, Kristin Ehala
Directing consultant: Katrina Duka
Producer: Johanna-Mai Riismaa
It seems to me that virtual space can be compared to a sauna, where everyone has eagerly taken off their clothes for pleasure or well-being, regardless of the fact that the result may be heat causing horrendous pain and subsequent disappointment.
It is clear that the collective that has gathered behind the name Electronic God is worried about the situation where virtual reality is more real than reality itself. Internet serves as a basis for immediate response thus zeroing out emotions and context that are otherwise present in human relationships. Which form of communication is more real?
The performance Sauna at the Kumu auditorium began even before all the people had found their seat in the hall. The pace of the show and a good atmosphere were set up with an engaging dance on the stage and between the rows of seats. The tools or requisites for expressing ideas on the stage were a plastic wall that split the stage into two and a screen from which you could read that the audience will be drawn out from the passive role, giving them the task of logging in to a certain webpage. The culmination of this act will be revealed at the end of the show.
Plastic has a symbolic meaning in the context of Sauna. The relationship between the “real self” and the “virtual self” is characterized by a metaphorical plastic, illustrating how we, by means of the information available on the Internet, get closer to somebody, but never really reach them. Something stays between us. The one thing that I think is emphasized in the performance is that if the “virtual self” bites you, then it’s painful and real.
The idea of the show is largely based on how we create the self-image on the Internet and how it is evaluated. Managing a curated Instagram account and counting together the likes is almost everyone’s everyday life. Here, I’m not talking about those who swim upstream, but most of the people. One sore point that was touched, was the possibility to stay anonymous in the virtual room. This anonymity is actually a weapon that allows us to really heart somebody. The audience had a supposedly anonymous opportunity during the performance to decide which performance on the stage was the most memorable and how to punish the performer who failed.
The virtual reality is like a sauna, where everyone can turn on the heat. After that, everyone will independently lick their wounds or wash themselves clean. I believe it is important to talk about the perception of life related to virtual reality. For me, it’s important how to distinguish what is important in this growing amount of information. The way how all these ideas were expressed in the performance was a bit boring for me. Although there were a lot of good actors and dancers on stage, the best in them was not revealed. The culmination of the show was Jim Ashilevi singing Radiohead’s Creep, which could be followed by random people through Chatroulette in addition to those who were in the audience.
Sauna can be seen a few more times, it will be played at the Kumu auditorium on December 10 and 11, 2018.