What do submarines, contemporary dance, woodworking and photography have in common?
Turns out these are just some of the varied interests of film maker Andrew Milne. He combines his passions in his new solo show, Media for Solo Performer, being presented as part of WNDX, Winnipeg's Festival of Film and Video.
Andrew first trained as an engineering technologist, which led to a job developing mechanical and electrical designs for a submarine company in British Columbia. Then he left it all behind to pursue contemporary dance in Winnipeg. Currently, he juggles a lot of things at the same time: film, photography, wood sculpture and media performance. He is passionate about exploring the interaction between technology, art and our own bodies.
SCENE asked Andrew a few questions to illuminate his upcoming multimedia show.
How would you describe Media for Solo Performer to the guy on the street?
In short, I'm creating a film in real-time about my Father's memories by controlling Google maps with my brain. The performance is part of what's called Expanded Cinema which is a combination of Film and Performance Art.
Where do we actually go with Google maps?
Well I can't tell you that specifically or you wouldn't enjoy the performance as much. But I can tell you that the piece follows my families' migration from places in Scotland and England to locations in Canada.
How will the actual performance work?
In the performance the sound is pre-recorded and the images are created in real-time using a Brain to Computer interface called an EEG or electroencephalography machine. An EEG is a machine that approximates brain activity by measuring the electrical voltage levels on the surface of your head.
During the performance the EEG measures my brain activity and sends it to a computer where it is translated into commands which are then sent to a web browser. I have only been able to develop a limited set of commands but it is enough to allow me to fly Google maps in real-time using my brain.
The resulting performance is an experimental documentary. The sounds are excerpts from an interview that I did with my father last year where I asked him to tell me stories from his life. As the stories play I explore the locations using Google maps that relate to the story that he is telling with my own voice appearing at the end.
Are you afraid of thinking the "wrong" thing?
The short answer to this is, Yes! It's pretty tricky creating consistent signals for the computer to read but on top of that, the computer has to 'recognize' what I am asking it to do and let's just say between me and the software, where I am trying to get to and where I end up are not always the same place.
Name one thing you can express by combining these mediums that you couldn't express in any other way.
I find using Technology to make art with the Body is really difficult to do. I often think of computers and the body as metaphors for reason and intuition. The body is just so complex and dynamic, whereas computers, while consistent, are incredibly rigid. Working with them together enables me to raise questions about where we are going technologically but also forces me to ask how and if they can work together in a way that is human.
Cyborg Cinema is part of Nuit Blanche, presented by Culture Days.