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Marina Abramovic in a Wearable Augmented Experience at Serpentine

  • Marina Abramović - The Life (detail), 2019
February 17, 2019
A philosophy graduate interested in critical theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

“The Grandmother of Performance Art”, Marina Abramović is celebrated for her vanguard performance pieces that use her body both as subject and vehicle. After five decades of groundbreaking work, she has also embraced virtual reality in 2018, describing it as a very promising medium.

The acclaimed artist brings another work which combines art and technology. For one week, the Serpentine Galleries will host the presentation of her latest performance The Life in Mixed Reality – a wearable augmented experience. Taking place on the site of her acclaimed 2014 durational performance, 512 Hours, The Life will allow visitors to experience an intimate, digital encounter with Abramović in this first, large-scale performance exhibited using Mixed Reality anywhere in the world.

Marina Abramović - The Life, 2019
Marina Abramović – The Life, 2019. Courtesy of Marina Abramović and Tin Drum

The Intersection of Technology and Performance

Written and Performed by Marina AbramovićThe Life is directed by Todd Eckert, produced by Tin Drum, a studio that works exclusively in Mixed Reality, and captured by 4D Views with devices provided by Magic Leap.

An artist who has been always pushing the boundaries in using her own body as a subject and object, Marina Abramović now ventures into Mixed Reality to explore this notion further and map new territory at the intersection of technology and performance. Lasting 19 minutes, this new performance piece builds on her long-standing fascination with the notion of material absence.

The process of creating the piece included Abramović going through the entire performance in an extensive volumetric capture process – an authentic, moving, photographic representation of the human form – which is only possible in a few studios around the world. As she explains, this is the first time an artist has used this technology to create a performance, but she hopes that many artists would follow.

Marina Abramović - The Life, 2019
Marina Abramović – The Life, 2019. Courtesy of Marina Abramović and Tin Drum

Experiencing the Piece

Focusing on the authenticity of Marina Abramović’s vision, Tin Drum created a recurring performance that only this Mixed Reality technology can provide. The fact that the projects can be repeated anywhere in the world without her actual physical presence, the artist describes as “mind-blowing”.

On the site, audience members will be provided with Magic Leap One lightweight wearable spatial computing devices, before entering the main gallery space. The technology of Mixed Reality allows the gallery and other visitors to be completely visible as part of the experience, while the digital representation of the artist will be visible inside a roped, five-meter circle at the center of the gallery. Describing the experience, Abramović says:

When I put the glasses on for the first time, it was a very shocking experience – the feeling that I was there and not there at the same time.

Marina Abramovic on Virtual Reality

Marina Abramović Performance at Serpentine Galleries

Founded in 2016, Tin Drum is a technology collective encompassing designers, coders, artists, and scientists which is focused on location-specific group experiences that explore themes of presence, permanence, and embodiment. For Todd Eckert, who previously produced Control, the feature film about the life of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, directing The Life is a culmination of a career spent working across the media landscape.

Marina Abramović’s performance The Life will be on view at Serpentine Galleries in London from February 19th until February 24th, 2019. The Press Preview will be held on Monday, February 18th, from 3 p.m.

Featured image: Marina Abramović – The Life, 2019. Courtesy of Marina Abramović and Tin Drum. All images courtesy Serpentine Galleries.