a little poetry and LOL (lots of love)
Plugged into the matrix, aren’t we? As we make the transition towards a life that’s mostly lived online, the meaning of our online relationships is something that is undergoing a metamorphosis, and not always for good. Luca Silvestrini’s contemporary dance production, LOL (lots of love), performed by Protein, confronts love, longing, and connectedness in these times of instant messages, video calls, and online profiles. I watched the production in Chennai yesterday, and came away impressed by the novelty of the production. The music, soaked in sounds of people tapping away on their keyboards, connected one to the theme. If you happen to catch it any time anywhere, do not forget to notice also the shadow play that goes on in the background during the performance. There’s something about shadows. I liked the dancing shadows in the background more than the dancers on the stage. There’s a certain purity to watching a shadow dance, one that is perhaps lost in the flesh-and-blood performance on stage.
It was funny and poignant at the same time — the travails of lonely souls searching for love online, making up flashy profiles, and looking forward to meeting someone special. You can watch the trailer here:
I have to say the show I witnessed was visually (and aurally) way more appealing than it is in this particular trailer.
I have some ruminations on the whole “living your life online” deal. The real change has been in the ways we communicate. The availability of multiple fora for communication has enabled, yet perhaps trivialized, a lot of our interactions. We communicate way more than we have ever done in human history, yet mostly we really have nothing to say. And, of course, the Internet takes “stalking” to a whole new level. Perhaps there’s also a growing discomfort with the very idea of going offline for a while. For a lot of people — count me in, mostly — it is almost unimaginable. The Internet is becoming the panacea for everything that ails us. There’s a particular motif in LOL — a guy clinging to a lot of wires with him, suggesting how much of his life is run via them, and the extent to which that substitutes for offline interactions.
The deeper process, I think, is one of a disengagement of the message from the medium. One doesn’t have to meet someone in person to have a conversation, and ideas can be exchanged even anonymously. This disengagement is a powerful thing, and an enabling thing. I’m unsure how much of a bad thing it is, given that the boundary between the virtual and the real world is constantly shifting and is blurry all the time. Even so, it helps to have occasional reminders from the real world. I live a lot of my intellectual life online, but I return to the offline world when I need some inspiration, or when I need to do some quiet thinking, or for that matter, when I want to go watch real dance theatre instead of a youtube video. By the way, the next performance of LOL is in Mumbai, here, followed by Delhi, here. Watch it if you get the opportunity, I recommend it.
Poetry with Prakriti
Before the LOL performance, there was also a poetry reading session. Three poets — Manasi, Uma Devi, and Tishani — read poetry, mostly on love, scars, losing, and a poem by Tishani on Madras (this one can be read here). I did not follow the Tamil poetry by Uma Devi, only listened to the sound of it. Poetry with Prakriti is an annual event organized by the Prakriti Foundation in Chennai during December.