“If you want an image of the future it is this: everything you have ever done, every friend you’ve made or lost, every website you’ve visited, every message you’ve sent or received, every kiss, every heartbreak, every holiday, every sadness, every single moment, saved on our servers and on sale to the highest bidder. Forever.”
‘Whirlpool’ reflects on the life and works of Indian-born British writer George Orwell - though the scope of the production moves well beyond biography. The aesthetic is radical, physical, confrontational, playful and experimental. The core strands that are developed are: The biography of Orwell and questions of why an Indian company is getting a European director to make a show about another white writer - who is working to whose agenda here? And why? The dystopian visions Orwell explored in his writing - especially ‘Homage to Catalonia’, ‘Animal Farm’ and ’1984’. How Orwell’s visions are being brutally realised in contemporary Indian and global politics - not only through drawing parallels with contemporary events, but examining how today’s politics has moved beyond Orwell’s visions, as technology and Artificial Intelligence have expanded their potential and reach. The ability (imagined so powerfully in ‘1984’) of technology to be manipulated to falsify the present and the past - and thus to control the future (the phrase ‘fake news’ may be modern, but that is what Orwell wrote about.). As Orwell wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”. Again the advent of self-evolving Artificial Intelligence really takes us into a world beyond Orwell’s dystopia. It is a performance piece that is constantly destabilised. It is direct and funny and yet, constantly, what the audience has come to believe is the ‘reality’ of the piece, will be subverted. The ultimate questions will concern who is controlling who, and how. The role of the technical artists in this is core. The deepest level of subversion (our contemporary ‘Big Brother is Watching You’) is how the easily available technologies we carry with us on a daily basis are themselves becoming the controllers of our fates (as google maps decides our route to work, as a health app nudges us towards a certain diet, as our personal political landscape is shaped into an echo chamber of falsity and division). To paraphrase Orwell, who controls the technology controls the present. Who controls the present invents both past and future. Thus the role of sound/light/audio-visual elements is as much an instigator of action as a support to that action.
Where: Nehru Memorial Hall, Pune
When: 13th April
Time: 9:00 pm