The screen shows skin. A bump signal, from sensors on players in the roller derby game, causes a bruise to appear. The bruise fades through red to blue to green to yellow to brown, then morphs into a flower. The next signal triggers a new bruise; if it comes before the last bruise has finished its metamorphosis, the new bruise is stronger.
An ecstatic moment of fury inflicts injury, venting intolerable rising energies: obstruction, desperation, humiliation, need. Connection is made between the physical and the unendurable. There’s a sudden change in direction, speed, intention, strategy. Swelling starts and pain begins to throb. There’s a visible, tangible lesion in the flesh. The bruise can later be cleaned and anointed and take its time to heal. The pain will gradually fade to an itch. The body can process and transform the damage. If healing is interrupted, the next injury is worse, compounding the existing haemorrhage. Either way, the body will never be the same again; trauma will leave its mark.
Pirating sensor data from the Roller Derby players to use as framework to trigger text feeds - past, present & realtime from skaters, audience and artists. Expanding the action on the track, the screen displays a data-mash: live tweets & text feeds, mapped with the cyclic rolling energy of the skaters, building vibrancy. A montage of conversation, description, conjecture & moments pirated from history and literature.
The fervor of the game and the text transmissions charts a poetic reflection of the spaces in-between, the status updating frenzy, augmenting live action with fragments of experience, a hovering layer of meta-reports unfolding over time, channeled into a new stream. Moments replaying, systems change states in the networked space, a place of release like a telepathic field. Tuning into the archaic energy: ecstatic movements, painful moments, and amorphous chaos. People meeting physically and virtually, sending data through nodes and cells, flows & currents, simultaneously transmitting and receiving. Sub-channeling direct & indirect action via the data feed. Excessive body states on the track, going into the zone, the triggering of intensity, the abstraction of energy, a rush, a stack smudges the line. Building up meaning together but remaining autonomous. Different entry points, we are inhabitants of many worlds and can appear in any one we wish. Do you want to add to the channel, a twitter bridge perhaps?
programming support Chris Neugebauer
Roller Derby originated in Depression era America, and - like music, vaudeville and the chorus line - was a way for women to escape poverty and to work, survive and thrive. The Roller Derby revivals of the 1960s and in Texas in the 1990s were also fueled by women looking to empower themselves, to escape domestic drudgery and make some money. In Australia today the immense pulling power of womens’ roller derby remind us that playing, fighting, skating, jostling and jamming are intense, immersive experiences for both participants and audience - the roller derby is an event in which imagination, power and gameplay shift through the interacting bodies.
As an artist I am interested in intense embodied experiences and connections across time and space, and in creating affective compositions that explore relations and flows within a fast moving, energised public sphere. By incorporating live resonant data from a contemporary SRDL game, and using it to manipulate, mashup and effect archival footage, I’m playing with similarities, connections and gaps between Roller Derby then and now.
Girls, you are gazelles! The future lies beneath your feet.
Two teams, warriors all, enter the great cycle of pain, humiliation, and exhilaration. Different women take the lead, driven by a new and ardent desire. Some come from the Furies, expressing the unappeasable anger of the dead, while alluring others are descended from the Sirens, liberated from their meadow starred with flowers. Streaming forward are the daughters of the Sibyls, each violent twist and collision triggering a momentary collapse in time through which their bodies can sing the future. Fragments of ecstatic prophesies spit out through the screen, interrupted by an occasional image of life at its most minuscule, revealing universes within universes. We struggle to make sense of the formless, the imperceptible. We struggle to name our fear, yet once we recognise it, we become liberated. Over time the women’s power and courage increases. They are formidable, licking the future into shape. As they fall to their knees, the Invisible emerges through a bed of skulls into the yawn of radiance.
I-Roller programming by Ali Graham
Axle Grind borrows the electric violence of the roller derby pack and transforms it into noise, vibration and the rock power chord. Axle Grind maps the collision data from the roller derby players to Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll. A robotic pink electric guitar hangs in the space, activated by the ramming of the derby blockers on track. Axle Grind is about jamming with the jam, generating a soundtrack of spectacle. As each hit happens a power chord is played to progress the song, a marshalling of stacks, a G-force Jam.
I love rock ‘n’ roll
So come and take your time and dance with me.
Axle Grind Max/MSP/Jitter programming by Jon Drummond