Monday, October 8, 2012

String Theory

Normally when one brings up String Theory, thoughts of science (say it with a lisp, you know you want to) come to mind. Not so when you say it in Helsinki.

Not so strangely, when you mention things usually related to science in this city, design is actually being talked about. Yes, this has to do with the fact that we are the World Capital of Design this year. Yes, we are trying to tie everything to design. No, it's not that everything is actually tied to design. But yes, we are trying to convince everyone that everything is. It's hilarious.

So when German K and Hong Kong P and I were looking into some more arty/design-y events to go to (related to something called Helsinki Design Week...as if there needs to be something like that in the World Capital of Design?), and one of them was called String Theory, we naturally took a look at it and decided it was a big yes. Why not? We love science (well, as much as people in design, marketing, and finance could love science...considering it has nothing to do with what any of us do on a regular basis), so...why the hell not? Plus, take a look at this masterful description of the event:

"String Theory is a dance performance reconstructing the world of string theory. The event challenges the perceptions of the viewer, as only at the end of the work will all the artistic aspects take place in the same space and time."

Now, to be perfectly honest, we didn't read the description that carefully before going to the event. I think all three of us, in our over-worked, over-busy states, probably skimmed the description once, took a look at the event picture, and stopped there. Because when we all got there, we thought it was going to be a complete live performance and were confused when we were in a movie theater for the first half of the thing. But I digress. Let me start from the beginning.

Helsinki Design Week. Yay, another reason to go out and see cool stuff. That's exciting. We had chosen our event of the week: String Theory. Look at this awesome photo of the event we were going to:


Cool stuff right? Some sort of modern dance tied with neat tech props of some sort? Plus with a description that both confuses and expands the mind? Must be awesome, right?

So we arrive at the venue straight after work (having taken the bus there, which took about 45 minutes after some horribly unmasterful navigation on my part...I warned both of them ahead of time that when they selected me as navigator they were really putting themselves at great risk but I was the one with the most time that week). Luckily I didn't get us too lost and we did actually find our way to the cultural center.

We chat and skirt around the inside of the building before the doors to the auditorium open and we're allowed to take our seats.

A movie begins. We're immediately confused. Isn't this supposed to be a live performance of some sort?

Three movies later and we're definitely confused. A couple behind us leaves. There are only about 15 people in the audience with us in the first place, so that should have been a dead give away.

Though I think the films are interesting, they're short and very...modern. That's putting it gently. Imagine a man, in tight underwear, dancing around (very modern dancing) with some added tech graphics, and atonal beeps and blorps playing in the background. Sometimes he has a string of lights wrapped around his leg. You can see it plugged into the wall behind him.

...We suffered through about thirty minutes of this.

After the third and final movie, the lights slowly and dimly come up, but not all the way. Slowly, another screen appears. It is a graphic showing about six different words in a flow. These words are things like "Set Design," "Choreography," "Music," "Costume," etc. A scary creaking rusty gate sound comes on and "Set Design" is highlighted. Some flowing blue lights shimmer on the stage for about 30 seconds. And then turn off. The words reappear. Cue rusty gate sound again. This time "Music" is highlighted. Noises that sound like bubbles popping play for about 30 seconds then turn off. The words reappear.

...I think you can see where this is going.

This goes on for about 10 minutes, each with different combinations of the different words, followed by their matching action.

All the while the three of us sit in the dark, calculating how many variations there could possibly be. The general answer: too many.

...Before we realize that they're repeating some of the variations. Noooooo!

Then dancers appear. Their moves are like the man who was in the videos earlier. Something that looks like a cross between modern dance, yoga, and someone who is in the middle of stretching and trying to twitch a fly off their leg. Oh, and sweeping the floor with their hands. Very important. You can hear their bare feet and hands squeaking on the laminate floor. Their costumes are kind of interesting though - a mix of straps, cargo pants, and tank tops of various sorts.

At long last (about 45 minutes later), the "performance" ends. The lights come up and we clap for the dancers. A woman appears from the side of the stage and gives the dancers roses. We see that the dancers are probably about 15 years old. We notice that most of the people in the audience look like family members.

We try to rush outside before bursting into laughter. Sorry, modern dance: just not our thing. I wouldn't exactly say it was a waste of 13euros...but it certainly was an interesting use of our money. Probably wouldn't do it again.

Entertaining just got a new entry in my book. :)

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