Living Room Exhibition Title: iBeckett
Created in Sydney during the COVID lockdown in December 2021
Samuel Beckett (1906 – 1989) was a Nobel-Prize-winning novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet.
My first encounter with the legend was Beckett en Bref, a Chinese-Scottish co-production performed at the Lyceum Theatre in Shanghai. The enigmatic Beckettian theatre triggered a strong affective response in me. Tears were running down my cheeks as I felt an intense connection with the actors to a point I could physically sense the pain.
As I am waiting for the end of Sydney’s current lockdown and the day I could finally reunite with my family in China, I have been thinking about waiting, meaningless repetition, and time. Life in lockdown feels like Beckett's Plays - nothing happens, nobody moves.
Beckett’s multi-faceted works offer a bleak, tragi-comic view on the essential aspects of modern human experience and are disturbingly relatable in 2021: we are all waiting, waiting for the end of the pandemic, waiting for a solution to the climate crisis, waiting for a plan to rescue the desperate Afghans, waiting for a new home for the millions of forcibly displaced people in the world...... and perhaps, also waiting for the droids to take over.
The basic questions for Beckett seemed to be these: How can we come to terms with the fact that, without ever having asked for it, we have been thrown into the world, into being? And who are we; what is the true nature of our self? What does a human being mean when he/she/they say “I”? Smart devices are becoming our limbs, eyes, ears, and memory; the lines blur between us and the technology - these things are becoming extensions of us.
I wonder what Beckett would say about us if he were alive today? Would the droids also suffer from loneliness, question the meaning of their existence? How would the droids interpret Beckett’s plays?
I draw inspirations from the text, stage directions, and themes from three of my favourite Beckett plays -Rockabye (1981), Breath (1969), and Waiting for Godot (1954). In this homemade prototype, I attempt to create three multi-media installations, using found objects (analogue and digital), pre-programmable LED lights, AI-cloned voice, video, animation, etc. The three parts form a continuous theatrical experience: the intertextuality and aesthetic connections shape the viewer’s reading of the entire project.