Challenging the automaton: clog-dancing for the digital age

Gisbert Kapp N329
Monday 16 January 2017 (17:15)
Dr Caroline Radcliffe
  • Centre for Contemporary Literature and Culture event

An illustrated talk by Dr Caroline Radcliffe (University of Birmingham)

Venue: Gisbert Kapp Building, Room N329


Paralleling the working conditions of the nineteenth-century textile workers with those of today's computer operators, Radcliffe and Angliss created a mixed media performance piece inspired by women's interaction with technology. Taking the steps of the early nineteenth-century clog dance, they re-contextualised its history, using it to control a machine of the twenty-first century, the digital computer. The performers - dancer and computer operator - work together to create an intermedial space where the real world, occupied by the human worker, and virtual world of the machine are coupled to each other and acting in equal partnership. The extreme, machine-like control, virtuosity and physical endurance of the dance reflect the stamina required to survive repetitive labour in both the industrial and the post-industrial workplace representing a creative challenge to the automatisation processes necessary to the success of capitalism.