Tuesday, June 12, 2007

walking the talk

eVokability: The Walking Project

NEWS RELEASE Karmalux Media June 1, 2007 Press Contact: Maori Karmael Holmes 215. 313. 2890 maori@karmalux.com

philadelphia—Exploring ideas and images surrounding the notion of “walking,” vis-à-vis the body with disabilities, multimedia performance piece, eVokability: The Walking Project presents a workshop performance in Philadelphia on June 22.

Performers wear Costumes embedded with sensors that track the shape and force of physical gesture, using these dynamics to generate live media projections that amplify their movement. Each performer’s sensor-based Costume is technically “tailored,” to her body and her movement. Each Costume functions as a media "instrument" that the performer plays: a virtual extension of the body, a narrative prop.

The eVokability workshop performances take place:

Thursday June 14, Friday June 15 & Saturday June 16 at 7:30pm at Dance Theater Workshop Studio, 219 W. 19th St., New York;

Friday June 22 and Saturday June 23 at 7:30PM at Spirit Wind Internal Arts Society (213 New Street in Philadelphia).

Tickets are $10 ($7 for students/under-/unemployed) and can be purchased by contacting Sarah Drury at sarahdru@gmail.com or by calling 917. 254. 3468.

Performers approach the subject of walking from the standpoint of a question: what does it mean to walk—and how is it accomplished by those with different bodies? Where steps and stairways can be insuperable barriers to the world's most serious institutions and harmless pleasures alike, these performers address this basic emblem of human mobility and autonomy.

“This project is the culmination of an experimental process,” says director Sarah Drury. “Assistive technologies need to become more sophisticated, subtle and expressive tools for people with disabilities. This project explores media technologies as subtle amplifications of body, mind and voice.”

eVokability began as a collaboration between Drury, a new media artist and disabilities scholar Carol Marfisi in 2003. The Walking Project has grown out of this initial collaboration, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Temple University and with the contributions of many talented people, including electronics designer Charlie Hoey and programmer Seth Erickson.

There are three solo pieces that comprise The Walking Project. The performers are Cathy Weis, Shelley Barry, and Lezlie Frye. Body movements of the performers—grand and slight—cause “ripples” of digital imagery, transposed via computer and projected onto a screen. In “Standing Noise,” Cathy Weis wears sensor-soled shoes that visually amplify her weight shifts and help narrate her experiences of standing still, walking and dancing. Shelley Barry’s three-part piece “Transit” is an interactive meditative comtemplation on land and longing. Lezlie Frye wears sensors on her hands to explore the “realtime body archive”—the graphing of physical activity and particularity of movement against the grid of cultural mobility.

The completed production will be presented in Philadelphia in November 2007. If you are interested in presenting eVokability: The Walking Project, please contact Sarah Drury at sarahdru@gmail.com.

To see images from the show, please visit http://www.sarahdrury.net.


Sarah Drury is a new media artist working with language and the body through interactive narrative, wearable interfaces and responsive media design in performance. Her work has been presented at international venues, including: BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the National Theater of Belgrade, the Brooklyn Museum, the Kitchen, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Artists Space, Hallwalls and the Worldwide Video Festival at the Hague. Drury’s work uses responsive media to focus on questions of control, play and the emergent subject. This work translates kinesthetic and vocal experience into languages of image, sound and text, in such diverse contexts as electrical inventor Nikola Tesla’s principals of induction (Violet Fire Opera) and the projection of different embodiment by performers addressing issues of disabilities (eVokability: The Walking Project). Sarah is currently an assistant professor at the Temple University Film & Media Art/New Media Interdisciplinary Concentration.


The work of Guggenheim Fellow and Bessie Award winner Cathy Weis centers on a choreographic process that fully integrates dance with sound, design and technology. In 1989, Weis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. By 1992 she began to emerge from what she calls her own personal black hole. Fascinated with our perception of television as reality, Weis began to explore the partnering of live dance with video. Her recent works include Electric Haiku: Calm as Custard, recently produced at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston (2007) and originally commissioned/produced by Dance Theater Workshop, NYC (2005), A Lecture on Walking, commissioned by the Culture Project, NYC, 2004, Electric Haiku and An Abondanza in the Air (with Lisa Nelson), Dance Theater Workshop (2002); and Show Me, commissioned/produced by The Kitchen, NYC (2001). In the past, Weis has also worked with dance and performance artists such as Bill T. Jones, Simone Forti, Joan Jonas, Steve Paxton and others.

Shelley Barry In 2003 Shelley was awarded a full scholarship from the Ford Foundation to study towards her MFA in Film in the United States, graduating from Temple University in 2006. Her films have screened at major venues around the world and have been acquired by WYBE, DUTV and MTV in the USA. Recent awards include an Audre Lorde Award for Media, Distinguished Graduate Student Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Graduate Schools and four Best Film awards at international festivals for her first film, “Whole—A Trinity of Being”, an experimental documentary, which also received the Jury Citation Award at the Black Maria Film Festival. Born and raised in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, Shelley has worked extensively as a disability rights activist, following a shooting in the Cape taxi wars of 1996 that resulted in her being a wheelchair user. She has worked in democratic South Africa’s parliament and presidency as a disability rights advocate. She is also a published poet, currently working on her first anthology. Shelley is the director of twospinningwheels productions, based in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. For

Lezlie Frye is a performance artist, activist, poet and scholar. She has performed at wide range of artistic and cultural events, including festivals, workshops, and conferences. Frye aims to address intersecting forms of oppression and to locate critical resistance in the foxy bodies of cripples everywhere. She is a currently a doctoral student in the American Studies Program, department of Social and Cultural Analysis, at New York University. In addition to collaboration on the eVokability Project, Frye is currently exploring a range of performance modes that fuse movement to storytelling and spoken word.


Seth Erickson (interactive programmer) is a researcher and producer of New Media art. He received his undergraduate degree in History of Art and Architecture from Brown University in 2004. Since then, he has worked with New Media artists in Germany, France, and the U.S. He currently lives and works in New York City.

Charles Hoey (interactive electronics design) has worked on interactive media design for the eVokability Project since its inception in 2003. He also worked on interactive media for Violet Fire: A Multimedia Opera about Nikola Tesla for its recent world premiere in Belgrade, Serbia and its US premiere at BAM’s New Wave Festival.

Carol Marfisi (eVokability Project collaborator; Walking Project catalogue editor) is a writer and instructor of graduate level courses in Disability Studies, incorporating the arts to explore the representation of people with disabilities in mainstream culture and in disability culture. Marfisi has been a collaborative partner on the eVokability Costume Project since 2003, contributing insights and experiences about disability life from fifteen years of active involvement in the Disability Rights Movement. The author of numerous academic and creative writings publications, Marfisi considers physical difference and disability as a creative device and a means of enlightenment about human nature in general. Carol is editing a catalogue of writings by people with disabilities and photographic documentation of the performance by J.J. Tiziou, to accompany eVokability: The Walking Project. The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is one of the 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information or for photos and interview requests, please contact Maori Karmael Holmes at 215. 313. 2890 or email maori@karmalux.com.


eVokability is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Temple University Junior Faculty Research Initiative. eVokability was co-sponsored by the Temple Institute on Disabilities. The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University is one of the 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service funded by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Through training, technical assistance, services and supports, research, dissemination, and advocacy, the Institute is committed to supporting individuals with disabilities in their pursuit of interdependence, contribution, and inclusion.

1 comment:

Mike Dorn said...

Looks very interesting Carol. I note that you are one of the performers. Looking forward to attending the performance once I get back from Jamaica next Thursday. Mike