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Marloeke van der Vlugt: Patchmaker

21 November 2009

Marloeke van der Vlugt is a Theatre Science graduate who works with technology and virtual worlds.  The ‘Patchworker’ series sees interactive switches and faders placed on her own body, triggering bursts of video feed and arcades of sound, as archived ‘bodily memories’ are shown to the visitor. We asked Marloeke a few questions ahead of her upcoming expression of the inner worlds of our own bodies at the NEU NOW Festival.

Do you see any precedents for your work, whether in art or elsewhere?

Maybe the theatre-work of the visual artist Jan Fabre, or the performances of Ulay and Marina Abramović. Especially the way they incorporate and activate the audience; their presentation of the vulnerable body is inspiring.

Tell us about working with video and performance- did you consciously decide to work with this medium, or did your talents and passions dictate it for you?

I’ve been working as a scenographer mostly for multi-media performances. For me scenography incorporates the set design, the video, costume, lighting and the movement of the body. So these are my tools to create with.

In regards to performance, my work explores the difference between having and being a body. The body - of both audience and performer – takes a central position in my theatre/installation work; literally and figuratively. My work also constantly questions the natural borders of the body. In what way can we manipulate the body? How can we use it as an instrument/interface to relate ourselves to the outside world? Can we transcend or even abrogate its mental, physical and spiritual borders? What kind of new experiences can we give it? Can we broaden our senses? Can we stretch, amplify, mould or even tear the skin apart? Can we have an equal physical sensation by stimulation from a distance- e.g., with ‘mobile’ skin?  

In every work video plays an important role – live and pre-recorded; animation, machinima, documentary and found footage. Video is integrated in such a way that it stimulates the audience’s active participation and challenges her to become the story’s ‘co-author’.

--“Touching the untouchable is possible through technological filters”. Teckla Schiphorst

How do you initiate your work? Does the idea come first, or a practical innovation?

The idea comes first. For instance, after working with online immortal avatars and the virtual world of Second Life, I wanted to make something about the vulnerability of the body. But I still have to 'see' a clear image to start working. [So with this project], I once woke up seeing a man hanging in space - 20cm above ground, feet down, head up, as if he dropped down from the sky; still wearing his parachute vest. He had different devices attached on/to his body, as if he was being measured continuously. It was possible to get closer and to touch him, which altered the ambience. This was my starting image. It gradually changed into the interactive installation it is now.

You’ve worked with an IT research group. What role do you perceive art to have in relation to science and innovation?

I think art is important in making us aware of the impact of technology on our daily lives; how it affects and changes our ways of communication and our relationship with our bodies.

You’ve trained in both London and Amsterdam- how has this affected you and your work?

Well, that was many years ago. I think Dasarts, with its group of international students with so many different artistic backgrounds, had a much greater impact on my work. It influenced the way I work around the body, for sure - how my body gets read in Holland is of course completely different than it would be in Africa, for instance.

What do you hope to gain from inclusion at the festival?

I hope an international audience will see my work. I'm very curious how it relates to the work they know already; and, how they will react!



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