Presented with the World Science Festival as part of its 10th anniversary season and produced by MAPP International Productions. A visceral and visual performative collision of the human body and water, born of the concern that as global sea levels rise, flooding and drought will become the central issues of the 21st century.
Sited in public space, Holoscenes features a totemic aquarium-like sculpture filled and drained by a custom hydraulic system, capable of flooding the aquarium with twelve tons of water in as little as 45 seconds.
The flooding aquarium is inhabited by a rotating cast of performers conducting everyday behaviors — e.g. selling fruit, getting dressed, reading a paper, tuning a guitar — sourced from collaborators across the planet. The performance features four performers presenting seven choreographies, in shifts lasting 30 to 45 minutes each. Each performance runs five hours, generally spanning sunset.
Holoscenes weaves the unraveling story of water — the rising seas, melting glaciers, intensifying floods and droughts — into the patterns of the everyday. The ebb and flow of water and resulting transfiguration of human behavior offers an elemental portrait of our collective myopia, persistence, and, for both better and worse, adaptation.
Civilization has evolved primarily within the geologic epoch of the Holocene, the era since the last ice age approximately twelve thousand years ago. However, there is debate as to whether we have already entered the Anthropocene — a period initiated by the industrial revolution and characterized by man’s impact on the earth over these few dozen decades at a scale previously measured only in the thousands of years. The projected rise of sea level is central to this dramatic shift in the biosphere, foreshadowed by receding glaciers, melting polar ice caps, and the countless catastrophic floods of recent memory. The development of Holoscenes has been informed by a broad spectrum of issues critical to a consideration of climate change, including those surrounding water; climate data, paleontology, and modeling; and the social and cognitive evolution of human capacities for decision-making, long-term thinking, and empathy. Research in these areas has been supported by a science advisory team and the arts/climate consortium PositiveFeedbackUSA.
Holoscenes premiered at Toronto Nuit Blanche in 2014 and has since been presented at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art on the Gulf of Mexico (2015), downtown during Art Basel Miami Beach (2015), central London during London’s Burning (2016), and on NYU Abu Dhabi campus (2016).