Does technology make art obsolete? It’s one of many questions explored during a piece of performance art dubbed “POVV [Prisoner of View/Point of War]” by 13 artists and Arizona State University theater students who’ve collaborated for a year to create a work reflecting “the intersection of our aesthetics and global perspectives.”
Consider the last time you found yourself with a dozen friends or family members trying to agree on something as mundane as the season’s best television fare and you’ll begin to understand the enormity of their task –melding 13 different takes on world events, art and identity.
The artists took the name Punctum from Roland Barnes’ idea of the “element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me” — noting in the “POVV” program that they’re eager to “highlight the buffers we construct to hide from true connection to the world.”
What does it mean to be human in wartime now? In this multi-sensory era, how can we understand the limit of our body? What have we willfully given up? In a world where Google probably knows us more intimately than our own families do, how can we access our common humanity? These are questions shared by the work’s creators.
But there are others. Why the disconnect between mind, body and environment? Where is the interface of neurology with nanotechnology? What becomes of societies that embrace wars few are willing to fight and die for? Are we losing personal and communal reality checks? Will the things we create be the very things that destroy us?
“POVV” is a conceptual work punctuated at times by dialogue that feels too literal, as if its creators don’t trust the piece itself to convey an appreciation for the issues it addresses. Early on, it’s hard to see the connection between seemingly loose threads of thought, but the ensemble effectively weaves them together in beautiful ways as the work unfolds.
MFA directing candidates Brian Foley and Megan Weaver co-direct “POVV,” which features scenic and costume design by Brunella Provvidente and Anastasia Schneider. “POVV” features lighting design by Adam L. Vachon, sound design by Julie Rada and media design by Jake Pinholster. Also live camera work and associate media design by Dan Fine and choreography by Chelsea Pace.
Ellen Beckett is stage manager and Rachel Bowditch the project mentor. The cast includes Adriano A. Cabral (Ross), Tyler Eglen (Joe), Jeremy Gillet (Jean), Chelsea Pace (Danielle), Marcelino Quiñonez (Kevin), Julie Rada (#148), Sabrina S. Scott (Ash), Meg Sullivan (Tirzah) and Adam L Vachon (Roomba).
Several have worked with local theater companies including Childsplay, Stray Cat Theatre, Rising Youth Theatre and more — and with theaters in NYC, California, Canada and beyond. They’re collective skill set includes everything from clowning to fiber arts — all gracefully integrated into the “POVV” piece brought to life with the help of dozens of production staff members.
“POVV” touches on questions at the heart of contemporary American society. Why the laser focus on defining others’ gender roles? Why the casual reliance on babysitters with buttons? Why the failure to move from “liking” something to acting on it? Why the easy distraction by shiny objects? Why the contraction of self within a widening world view?
If pondering such things in the context of performance art is your thing, “POVV” will feed your need for thinking deep thoughts. But there are other reasons to see the production — to experience innovative theater, to support emerging artists in our community, to get a feel for the quality of work coming out of ASU. And to discover your own take on whether technology trumps art.
“POVV” (you’ll see variations on the name in materials other than the program) is being performed through Oct. 7 at the Lyceum Theatre on ASU’s Tempe campus. It contains mature themes and language, including simulated violence and brief nudity. Also expect strobe lights, smoke and haze. Click here for show and ticket information.
Note: The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU presents more than 700 works — including diverse dance, theater, music, vocal arts, film, media arts and visual arts offerings — each year. Click here to explore upcoming events.
Coming up: Knights in tights