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Just before the opening of Sofia Underground 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting one of our international artists- Steffi Weismann. We talked about her long-term relationship with machines and the performance she has prepared for us tomorrow. Make sure you don’t miss it.
About Steffi Weismann
I work with any sort of live art. Combining sounds, voices, using my own body, sometimes video. I am interested in the live situations, to create a performance that is unique and interacts with the audience, with the current situation and, of course, the place. So you can say I never repeat a performance, it doesn’t happen in the same way. It’s always a combination of prepared performance an improvisation. My work is a process itself. I need the contact with the audience in order to develop it. It changes with every performance and I try to use the experience I’ve gained. I’m not an improviser, at least not completely. I have a concept that keeps my performance together, that I work on, but also a great part of it I leave open for improvisation. Communication is a key word for me. Using not only words, but images and sounds in order to communicate.
I am interested in the human- machine, interface and relationship. Ten years ago I started working with do it yourself technologies and building little machines and robots. Five years ago I begun working with this instrument that I brought to Sofia. I call it the lap-strap. It is a sound-belt, allows me to move with sounds. It is independent in a way that all of it’s parts are on my body, the amplifiers, the mixer, the microphone and other interfaces. With this equipment I can record right away- audience reaction, for example- and mix it. Instant composing- a mixture between the movements of the body and music and sounds.
I interact with machines in my everyday life, so I like to bring this into my artistic work. I have another project in which I communicate with my computer, it knows more about me than I do myself, it’s my coach in a way. I did this 15 years ago, when this wasn’t such an obvious topic, the computer having this collection of data, keeping our identity. For me it is very important to look at this human- machine communication. And I find it also very funny. I don’t see it only in a critical way, there is a humorous side to it. Because people often treat machines like… people. Like someone who is close to you and you have an actual relationship with. And I find it’s important to make a comment about it, take a closer look at our behavior around machines.
There are people working on programs, that I think can be dangerous. Programs that control people. But if I chose to be afraid instead of looking for my own way to incorporate technology in my work, this wouldn’t be a solution. So I started creating my ideas throughout technology, use it as a tool. Machines aren’t good, nor bad, they are a possibility.
As a performance artist, I think, it is also very important to use your own body, voice, senses and not use too much technology. Because you can loose too much time and focus. If you concentrate too much over a technical problem, you wouldn’t be as focused on the interaction with people.
About coming to Bulgaria
It’s the first time I am here. And I like it, all this little pieces of my experience so far. The talk we had on the bus, the drinks we had in the park in the evening, the nice and open people I’ve met. The site- it is rough and intense, gives a strong provocative atmosphere, something to work with. It’s not just a neutral space, it has history. It both asks questions and wants answers. I am collecting ideas, recordings that I might use tomorrow. The dialog has begun. It’s great that I had two days to develop a relationship with the place. Two days is not much, but it’s a beginning.
Check our program here and be on time for the opening tomorrow!