Dark Room Trio, 2011

— Score

Crispin Spaeth returns to Western Bridge to re-imagine her 2006 dance work Dark Room as part of our spring exhibition Light in Darkness. This work for three dancers is presented in a space lit only in the infrared spectrum. The dancers perform sightlessly, seeking each other in the space with violent or searching gestures, then meeting for clinches or embraces. A small audience views the performance through night-vision scopes. Using this military technology, the audience is privileged with a view of the proceedings kept from the dancers, who are guided by hearing, touch, and memory.

The viewer must scan the performance space through the narrow field of vision of the scopes, finding the dancers as they move through the space, choosing which performer to focus on. The scope technology suggests various aggressive or illicit uses, themes that play out through the performance.

Credits

Choreographer: Crispin Spaeth
Composer: Yann Novak
Production Director: Jon Harmon
Performers: Annie Hewlett, Elia Mrak, & Kathryn Padberg

Dark Room, 2006

— Score

Performed in a lightless room for a small audience equipped with night vision apparatus, Dark Room turns military technology into an intimate tool, revealing a world completely unavailable to the naked eye. Flanked by audience, five dancers navigate a tight, pitch-black arena through touch and sound, moving with passionate, risk-filled innocence and uncanny skill.

The night vision apparatus puts the power in the hands of the audience – allowing a partially anonymous freedom while demanding active authorship on the part of the viewer. The dancers usher us beyond military, surveillance, and amateur porn applications of night vision technology. Stripped of the normal trappings of theater, the dance is absolutely central, an up-close world of trust, fear, sex, and compulsive, blind pursuit of human connection.

Dark Room is “lit” by a low-profile infrared system, and is accompanied by a dark, space-shifting electronic music score.

Credits

Choreographer: Crispin Spaeth
Composer: Yann Novak
Production Director: Jon Harmon
Costume Designer: Etta Lilienthal
Performers: Heather Budd, Drew Elliott, Kathy Lawson, Chay Norton, & Jules Skloot

Related Recordings & Publications

Dark Room, 2006

— EP

Commissioned for the dance/installation Dark Room by Crispin Spaeth Dance Group at Western Bridge as part of the exhibition Crash. Pause. Rewind. The Score to Dark Room is a virtuoso exploration of darkness, surveillance, and war technology. Released on its opening night, Dark Room was only available at the performances and online.

Track Listing

  1. Unwind / Make Out pt.1
  2. Edges / Make Out pt.2

Read Reviews

  • Seattle’s Novak has cranked out another great release, commissioned as a soundtrack to a dance project. The dancers are blindfolded, so maybe you should cover your eyes when you listen to the tracks here. If you do, you’ll start to feel as though you’re bumping around in a room filled with empty ammunition canisters, before you get blast off on the back of an ICBM à la Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove. Both sensations are better than you might imagine. So don’t be afraid. – The Wire

  • Seattle-based sound designer/dismantler Yann Novak has been all over the style map via his label, everything noise-infused, drone-derived, and glitch-glutted—he’s one of many little-known and underappreciated American ‘scape-artists. Too bad, too, as Dragon’s Eye has been releasing some sterling documentation on the CDR format as of late. Take these two cool lit’l 3”s. On Dark Room, Novak does a sort of reductionist riff on Merzbow, softening the blast wave with discernible atmospheres and a teeming detail of well-coordinated tings, tangs and thrums; I’d be happy if its 20-minute length were easily doubled. Up Close gets quite personal, eschewing the brash for the blippy; these alien symphonies are practically jaunty, extraterrestrial juju for Martian jukeboxes. Interstellar, and, well, quite stellar. – e/i Magazine