Translation of critique in scenekunst.no

By Maria Stødle

http://www.scenekunst.no/…/om-molekyler-og-tanker-i-bevege…/

About molecules and thoughts in motion

It's nice that the scientific do not have the lead role in the show, but rather is as a backdrop, writes Maria Stødle on The Maras mix of concert and show at Vårscenefest. Through performance art, music, brain impulses and scenography The Maras researches the interior, what we consist of - molecules in motion. The result is the performance "The Molecular Effect". "The Molecular Effect" ended this year Vårscenefest in Tromso, a performing arts festival for the sixth time arranged by RadArt and Rådstua Teaterhus. The festival this year asked the question: "Are you human enough?" And within six days, artists from England, Poland, Norway, Sweden and Finland address this topic in different ways. The last artist who takes the audience into their world is Marita Isobel Solberg. Under the name The Maras she has with her a full band, a brain researcher and a professor from the Faculty of Humanities an exploratory hour at Provisoriet in Rådstua Teaterhus. In the darkness you hear a male voice with a British accent: "Guess what? My thoughts can travel .. No really. Jump inside another brain - just by a thought. "The voice continues to speak in a stream of images and questions about the thought, where it comes from and what it can be, while dark bass tones slowly flows out and the light slowly illuminates in a bluish color scale. The start is evocative and subtle, creating at once an interest in what comes later. When the light comes on, we see a large white web stretched between the ceiling and the floor. The spider web has long strands of white crocheted balls of various sizes that winds along the floor, between the instruments, some band members and Solberg in the middle. The stage design is dramatic and underlines the slightly bizarre, dreamlike world that confronts us in the performance. It's as if all the athletes are captured in the crocheted white net. An ordinary man in black All but one. On the left side of the stage stands a perfectly ordinary table with a normal laptop, where it sits an ordinary dressed man in black. He is off and not part of the network. The light goes down and it gets dark. While the band and Solberg is dressed in white, deconstructed costumes that assimilates crochet details of scenography, the brain researcher not part of the visual expression. Why? He controls what happens? Is he part of it? If so, why is he so visually different? Or should he be on the outside? The only time he enters the stage, when he puts on a kind of black plastic headband around his head to Solberg. The headband is connected to wires that ends in a small box. Neuroscientist violates the special, mysterious universe in white. There is a clear choice that he stands out, but I'm unsure if it really adds something or whether it rather disturbs. Is it an attempt to remind us that we, the audience, after all here in our ordinary clothes and just spectators, that we are also on the outside? Solberg sings through a small crocheted ball that she holds up to his mouth as a kind of microphone. It enables voice comes out like an old gramophone. It creates an exciting contrast to the brighter instruments. After the first song she stops and looks at us sitting in darkness: we are strangers that came into her sphere? Or is it she that is foreign? She sings on "Caress the stones and hide us from sorrow." Solberg's voice is sore and powerful at the same time. The crocheted ball underlines her distinctive sound. Sometimes the masculine as a tanned rocker, sometimes the feminine as a polished 1940-odd songs. She manipulates it and get it to do what she wants to create the mood she is looking for. All the time she creates music with a group of eminent musicians on drums, bass, guitar and electronic elements. The improvised elements between musicians and Solberg works seamlessly and suggests a good interaction between performers. The music is at times fragile, at times hypnotic, but also hard and confrontational. On the song "Mountains are mountains, but all can change" the voice of the guitarists in a second voice, a lovely moment that creates variety and depth to the song. The song ends a cappella with the whole band and just a droning sound in the background. I get chills along my spine. Soul and electricity From melodic and powerful music Maras made a break and calms everything down. We hear some data like sounds, repetitive and quiet. These sounds change character during the show, but is always monotone. They are used a lot between songs, almost like they get a completely separate focus. What are they? Soon heard the now familiar voice over the plant again. On precise British English he speaks further about molecules, water and body. The voice is round with a narrative, documentary drive reminiscent of nature program leaders like David Attenbourough, but it is also bemused in his thought. What and who are we really? Can all our thoughts, our mental life, really be stripped down to electromagnetic impulses in the smallest mass that we almost can not see? The light turns from dark to light, cold to hot throughout the show. It emphasizes the mood throughout the whole time, as if it suddenly becomes yellowish clear when Solberg directly confronts the public or becomes like a bluish evening in early autumn. The light also form small, sometimes large patterns in oblong round shapes, like a circle that is stretched out in various ducks, sometimes it's just on the back wall, sometimes enclosing forms on the performers. The association goes to molecules meet, separated and spread, only to meet again. Solberg sings: "By thinking we make sense, we interpret, we sense the world around us" and the lyrics she takes us on a journey in motley images and thoughts. Sometimes she is directly, other times she is arch and sly, occasionally questioning. Her expression allows me as the audience to feel guilty of something, and then the next moment feel like I'm a part of something, but mostly I'm an outsider peering in. Her Improvisation does that I never know what I can expect or how I would feel as I sit in the amphitheater. To get a grip of her work, I know that I must be present and active. Solberg improvises with stage design and props, such as an old coffee pot and a champagne glass. These improvisations works occasionally, it is perceived some designed and undertaken at the same time as it is fully in line with the cunning character she has created for herself. lost contact The performance combines concert with performance art, stage design, text and what will later prove to be music based on brain impulses. Solberg has through her work as an artist been keen to cross the boundaries between different genres and expression in art. New in this project is the scientific element. Under afterwards neck reveals that many of the soundscape we hear during the performance actually is based on brain impulses of Solberg's rhythm and activity. Creating music based on brain waves is thus not a new concept, but something that is still in development. In this performance is The Maras with neuroscientist Marko Alastalo on track to do just that. The interesting aspect is not really the sound that comes out, but the experience of playing with her own brain. Asked about this Solberg says that it is exciting to experience how sounds change because impulses changes during the show. During the show Alastalo lost contact with Solbergs impulses, it can be explained by brain activity increasing so much that the technology failed to catch those up? Or is it just the technology that failed? Are they through an artistic project on the way to finding other ways of understanding the brain? It's nice that the scientific aspect is not the main character in the show, but rather like a mystical backdrop that never get to take over. The Afterward talk about brainwaves puts the performance in another dimension, but it is still not governing for the experience. Through the abrupt and fluent thoughts and flows of text and songs, it is time for reflection. We have time to reflect and wonder about what we are. The musical and visual supports this and is also an experience in itself. As the voice says: "I like to think, I - myself - am more than just some grey matter, some collections of compounds." He talks about human desire and longing for being something more, and then in the last sentence take it all back to molecules and finds consolation in all our overwhelming experiences and thoughts really just boils down to a few electronic signals. From the big issues to the small Solberg switches and asks: "Do somebody have chewing gum?". Some in the audience are a bit bewildered and reveals a gum. Solberg says: "Thanks for the gum". And then it's over.