The Age of Spiritual Machines is a new work for cello, violin, electronics and two dancers by composer Daniel Elms and choreographer Alexander Whitley.
Exploring the philosophy of transhumanism, which seeks to enhance the capabilities of the body using technology, both artists have stripped away the technological components that they regularly employ in their work. The soft tissue of movement and music is revealed beneath, irreversibly altered by its past interactions with electronic and mechanical devices.
Whitley’s dancers embody principles of machine intelligence; their movements and relationship to each other informed by the way technology, rather than the human gaze, sees the world.
The sources for Elms’ tempo, rhythms and harmony derive from his recordings of the hidden frequencies of electronic devices, made with a coil microphone. Once they had been used to create the form of the work, these sounds were removed to leave a freestanding musical structure. Live cello and violin are electronically processed, sustaining the tension between natural and artificial.
The tightly-focused score is reflected in the movement of dance artists Hannah Rudd (Michael Clark Company, Scottish Ballet, Rambert) and Jonathan Savage (Rambert, GöteborgsOperans Danskompani) with lighting by Sarah Ward.
The Age of Spiritual Machines is funded by Royal Philharmonic Society’s Drummond Fund and Arts Council England.
Manchester Collective presents the premiere of The Age of Spiritual Machines at Southbank Centre on Saturday 14 May as part of their Neon programme, which also features works by Hannah Peel, Julius Eastman and Steve Reich. Neon tours to Lakeside Arts, Nottingham (18 May) and Howard Assembly Room, Leeds (19 May).