Hamlet’s Lunacy: playing the senses in a world out of joint
by Chiel Kattenbelt, Associate Professor in Media Comparison and Intermediality at Utrecht University
From an intermedial perspective, I will discuss Hamlet’s Lunacy, a longer term practice as research project of artists, scholars, scientists and technicians who work together in creating experimental theatre installations and performances in which immersive technologies are used in order explore the intentionalities and affordances of these technologies with a specific focus on how these media position and address the spectator or experiencer and result in new modes of presenting and experiencing possible worlds. I will start from my own contribution to this project by reflecting on theories and concepts that we use in order to frame our aims and objectives and to translate these in terms of dramaturgical strategies and challenges. One of our key concepts is intermediality. I will discuss this concept from a sign-pragmatic and phenomenological approach, which is based on the assumptions that expression and experience are inextricably linked. Our practice as research is a co-creative process in which sensitivity, systematics and abstraction are constantly involved, recognizing everyone's specific expertise. My personal interest in the use of digital technologies in live installations and performance is mainly to find out how these technologies can be used in order to play (with) the experiencer’s senses, to position him or her towards the possible world(s) they present and to provide the experiencer with specific affordances and agency. With regard to Hamlet’s Lunacy I will in particular reflect on the specificity virtual reality compared to theatre, film and omnidirectional video. For the sake of discussion, I will finish with a few dramaturgical questions.
In teaching as well as research, his fields of interest are theatre and media theory, media comparison and intermediality, and aesthetics and semiotics. Chiel is a Member of the Board of the International Society for Intermedial Studies (ISIS). He was the first co-convener of the international research working group Intermediality in Theatre and Performance under auspices of the International Federation for Theatre Research. He is co-editor of E-view, an online journal on theatre, film, television and digital media, and Theater Topics, a series on performing arts published by Amsterdam University Press. Last and current theatre season, Chiel is member of the jury of TF Theatre Festival.
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