Wearables Meet Sufi Mysticism in a Cosmic A/V Performance

Maziar Ghaderi's 'Dissolving Self 2' combines eastern mysticism with wearable technology to update the whirling dervish for the modern era.

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Dec 22 2014, 10:00pm

The universe spins on its axis, reacting to the movements of a whirling dervish in Maziar Ghaderi's Dissolving Self 2. Images courtesy the artist

"A secret turning in us / makes the universe turn / Head unaware of feet / and feet head / Neither cares / They keep turning."

— "The Secret Turning" by Rumi

In a darkened space surrounded by suspended shooting stars, a dancer twirls, and the universe spins with her. This is Dissolving Self 2 (DS2), a transmedia performance by Canadian-Iranian new media artist Maziar Ghaderi that unites the past with the future through the pairing of eastern mysticism and wearable technology. Inspired by the poetry of Rumi, DS2 features a spinning performer whose movements trigger different kinds of media including sound effects, projected motion graphics, and stage lighting in real time. The result is a cosmic 11-minute epic that augments the 13th century Persian Sufi pursuit of "ecstatic trances” with interactive technologies, such as a gyroscope, Arduino and Kinect.

Dissolving Self 2: Wearable Technology + Eastern Mysticism from maziart on Vimeo.

DS2 is the second part of an ongoing research project which involves the artist’s remediation of ancient cultural practices, such as Sufi whirling. Ghaderi's original Dissolving Self appeared in Toronto back in 2013, while DS2 screened this year in Dubai at The American University and The Fridge. Both projects incorporate Ghaderi's practice, which he calls playformance, into the creation of ethereal artwork: "Playformance is the synthesis of performance art, interactive technology and multimedia design," the artist told The Creators Project. Striving "to situate the human body as the serendipitous actuator of audiovisual content," the works display "the creative potential that amplifying technologies can introduce to performance art, and how this synthesis can inform principles of set design, lighting, and choreography."

GIF by Beckett Mufson

Ghaderi's next project, Mexe, will feature a series of augmented capoeria performances that incorporate wearables, computer vision, and infrared tracking. To curate the work for the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, the artist is currently "building a team of artists, performers and designers for the Mexe project in the spring." If you are interested in collaborating on Mexe, contact Maziar Ghaderi here

Dissolving Self: Wearable Technology + Contemporary Dance from maziart on Vimeo.

To learn more about Maziar Ghaderi and playformance, visit the artist's website here, and follow him on Facebook

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