echo:system is a live performance and installation work lead by AME faculty Grisha Coleman, with Todd Ingalls and a collaborative team of artists and researchers. The project is a response to our current environmental crisis caused by contemporary humans' inability to reflect on our own impact to the natural world. The goals of the project are to create lasting, arts driven vehicles for cross-disciplinary research, curriculum advancement and community engagement amongst divergent collaborators on and off campus. The project is working with experts in dance, archeology, computer science, environmental humanities, design, music, media, and architecture in developing active and engaging mediated spaces which explore socio-cultural and ecological aspect of the desert Southwest. Other campus partners include Institute for Humanities Research (IHR), Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA), and the ASU Art Museum. Off-campus partners and advisors include: Desert Botanical Garden, and Southwest Environmental Consultants (SWCA). echo::system has received seed funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The echo::system installation looks at the geographic, historical and cultural conditions of the U.S. southwestern desert with a dynamic, simulated walk through the landscape on "smart" treadmills. The work investigates links between large issues of socio-ecological complexity and direct embodied experience: emphasizing the importance of a self-direction, aesthetics and physical investment. Our refitted treadmill is an interactive interface that encourages a kinetic sense of navigation through abstract knowledge. This affords the user a physical, highly embodied experience to reconnect complex ecological data sets with cultural narratives. By involving the intention of the whole body in a motor-sensory experience, this work looks to create new scenarios for comprehension and contemplation of the environment.
In performance, multiple treadmills are modified for remote control, allowing us to 'play' them as instruments; visual, kinetic, and sonic. This technology, functional and metaphorical, references American gym culture as well as the practice of the Australian Aboriginal walkabout. Caught in a paradox of walking without traveling, the performers enact an interface with the land, introducing the notion of a contemporary ritual to activate memory and a greater understanding of the land. A choreographed multi-media performance, ActionStation#2 - The Desert follows a fictional tribe seeking knowledge of the evolutionary future of their species.