The Firebird is a more-than-human sci-fi myth. Their story is told through a choreographic intervention performed by an assemblage of four artists, relational sculptures, and invisible critters. The sculptures work as mixed reality modular big toys composed of two motion-driven digital layers: the first is sound-reactive and the second is composed of augmented reality graphics.
What is the body made of? The animations generate hybrid organisms as a way of imagining all the different coordinations that are necessary for the Firebird to be alive and investigate symbiotic relationships between humans, machines, and myths in the context of more-than-human migration during environmental emergencies.
The art project is an investigation of collective and performative augmented reality experiences for alternative spaces.
The project has been developing as part of my research at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of Arts, New York University since Fall 2019. In its current phase it counts with the collaboration of the performers Lua Girino and Sol Cabrini, PHD candidates in the Performance Studies department at Tisch; Chaski No and Viola Leqi He from ITP. The interdisciplinary interaction designer Wei Kang from ITP is working in wearable design.
For my SloMoCo residency, I am sharing my work-in-progress and process of creation of this piece, how the sculptures work at this point, some past experiments that lead me to this format and documentation and comments about the rehearsals.
Conception, direction and technology: Fernando Gregório Interpreter-creators: Lua Girino, Viola Leqi He, Chaski No and Sol Cabrini (solychaski) Wearable design: Wei Kang
The story of the Firebird
The world is on fire. The Firebird carries a secret technology inside of their belly: a magic seed that germinates every time that they are sleeping and dreaming, and turns into a virtual tree, which works as an invisible machine with the power to balance the temperature of their surroundings.
One day, a gigantic violent fire reaches the Firebird's village and destroys it completely. Thus, the last Firebird who survived has to migrate to the only area which remains safe from the fires: the A-City, the most efficient urban center of the planet.
In the city, a complex surveillance system is designed to prevent every living organism from sleeping, so they can work more and keep alienated from other possible worlds that could be revealed through their dreams.
To ensure that the dream-tree technology doesn't become extinct, the Firebird needs help to create a protected area in the city where they can sleep and dream for long enough for the invisible seed to germinate, become a tree and generate fruits.
Will they be able to do it without being captured? If so, what will happen with the people who eat the forbidden fruit of the dream-tree?
The Bird that originated the story that I'm developing with this work has been sitting with me for many years as a spectral presence of a more-than-human entity who takes care of the temperature of the planet with their hands. In fact, it became the Firebird after my thoughts about fire intensified in August 2019, after the smoke of the fires in the Amazon Rainforest, reached Sao Paulo, the city where I used to live. I'm concerned that unfortunately we will have to deal with real narratives of fire disasters in the next decades. Therefore, I think that there is an urgency in imagining more-than-human stories to help us inhabit this problem together.