Infinity Minus One review: Science meets art in engrossing display

INFINITY MINUS ONE
Carriageworks, October 24

★★★★

First comes the sound: made, as we can see, by human vocals but with the help of microphone technology. It is quite unearthly, and quite at odds with the sight of two men in tattered shirts and trousers. They wander in and lounge around as if it was too hot to do anything else, even if they had something in mind.

The lighting creates its own form of communication around the dancers.

The lighting creates its own form of communication around the dancers.

Slowly the scenario changes. The movement of the men becomes more structured. The style is Asian – to put it broadly – with a feet-apart martial arts stance often in place. Danang Pamungkas and Luluk Ari Prasetyo dance as individuals and at times together, in synchronised sequences; they are always interesting to watch, thoughtful in their choreographic interpretations.

As the human action evolves, so does the dance of the lighting, which throws coloured laser threads across the spacious performance space, creating its own form of communication above and around the performers.

All this is engrossing in itself. But it is only the superficial aspect of the deeper subject that Taiwanese artist Su Wen-Chi is tackling: "particle" and "universe", the smallest and the largest.

In her project to find ways of representing science on stage, she took up an artist residency at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Switzerland in 2016, working alongside astrophysicists and nuclear scientists. Since then, she has been exploring ways to bring scientific questions and methodologies into contemporary performance.

For Infinity Minus One, she has worked with a large team, including Ryoya Fudetani for light design, and Chiu Chao-tsai, Chang Huei-ming and Liao Chi-yu for stage and laser design. The creative onstage musicians are Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi.

Their biographies show a remarkable range of groups performing to our immediate north. Thanks to Liveworks for bringing us this one – though a pity it is only for three performances, finishing on October 26.

I wish I knew enough of the science to analyse the piece more deeply than the sense of people putting their minds to discovering more about the outer world. At least it has aroused my interest and reinforced the knowledge that humans have boundless amounts to learn about the universe.

The use of lasers to pierce the higher reaches of this venue give a strong sense of the vastness of the universe – plus a beautiful conclusion in which they are brought together in a graphic artwork. Is this a suggestion of some small achievement?

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