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Liquid Gold cyberdelia

Douglas Leonard


Lisa O’Neill, Leah Shelton, Liquid Gold, Brisbane Powerhouse Lisa O’Neill, Leah Shelton, Liquid Gold, Brisbane Powerhouse
photo Sonja de Sterke
Liquid Gold took place simultaneously in Brisbane/Australia, Sheffield/England, and live on the internet. By inviting the body to dance with incorporeal tools, transmute collective extended the landscape of interaction to new technologies of pleasure, emotion, and passion “within places of eccentricity and madness” (as introduced in prior works, Transit Lounge 1&2; see RT 32 p29). Lisa O’Neill, as adventurer and strong woman ‘Ling Change’, was filmed live on video as she travelled through the Brisbane Powerhouse (an industrial site converted into an arts complex). Avoiding a hierarchy between actual and virtual objects, or privileging computer over physical body, this performance examined questions of how ‘we’ conceptualise experience, examine self and others, generate and perceive beauty.

The word is cyberdelic: follow the yellow brick road to the yellow submarine, observe the antics on Gilligan’s Island through the Captain’s ‘looking glass’ (kaleidoscopic, says Alice). Editing the work from segmented perceptions (attention divided between 3 screens and the live performance), am ‘I’, as audience receptor/inheritor of a white pop art aesthetic—simultaneously being re-edited, rewritten as an intermezzo—in this country? O’Neill’s performative ‘look’ for Ling is pinched, hard-bitten, farouche. It comes to me that as an audience I am mirroring Ling’s predicament, irreconciled.

Liquid Gold, Brisbane Powerhouse	Liquid Gold, Brisbane Powerhouse
photo Sonja de Sterke
Ling is seen ‘in later life’ amid “strange new worlds where a number of chance encounters with objects from her past revive both nasty and particularly irrational ghosts.” Ling should know better, but old habits re-emerge as she is shadowed once again by spectres of material and fluid desire in the rotund shape of the Fiscalite who tries again and again to tempt her with ‘liquid gold’—bottled up in cans of Core. This Ubu-like nomenclature summons up both the seductions of material wealth and sinister connotations of the waste products of nuclear energy. Liquid Gold is ‘actually’ waste product honey contained within a brightly coloured can of ‘drink’ (coke/core), and it is said that solid ‘fools’ gold can be distilled from the lumpy bits at the bottom. Is Ling’s ‘straining’ for meaning a fool’s errand? Ling does indeed “fail again” (Beckett). But does she ‘fail again better’?

Ling’s emancipation is conceived through the self-realisation of others, in a dialectic between individual and collective. The rhizomic pattern of shattered glass between worlds refracts a collective “Impossibly Beautiful Strawberry Cloudlands” as an action of “the people, united.” This fulfills conditions for Guattari’s proposal for an “ecosophy”, an “ecology of the virtual”, having as its goal “not only preserving endangered species of cultural life, but also of engendering new conditions for creation and for the development of unheard-of, unimaginable formations of subjectivity.” Liquid Gold restores the most often suppressed aspect of avant-garde activity, namely self conscious ‘collective’ identity.

This was an important breakthrough work for transmute and for the future of collective new works.


Liquid Gold, transmute collective, instigator, artistic director & digital video production Keith Armstrong, choreographer & performer Lisa O’Neill, performer Leah Shelton, musician Guy Webster, interface designer Gavin Sade, director of photography David Granato, writer Hugh Watson, designer Deni Stoner, network specialist Gavin Winter, Media Directors Site Gallery, Sheffield, Kelli Dipple and Matt; Brisbane Powerhouse, Site Gallery (Sheffield England) & live online, liqdgold, March 9

RealTime issue #42 April-May 2001 pg. 27

© Douglas Leonard; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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