Perceptual Landscape

A technical marvel, Perceptual Landscape is an alarming watch. We enter on unbearable supersonic screeches and earth-rocking bass. Crumpled paper adds unease to an already complex soundscape. And we’re standing up, watching Jenny Mok crawl on the tiered aisle of a dim studio. The light is on us. But the unrelenting energy of despair doesn’t diffuse once we’re sitting.

Oscillating between suffocating and life-affirming, Perceptual Landscape must be traversed by us all.

A TV beams news programmes, a source of constant unsettling background noise, until Mok shifts between channels, muttering along at times. This startling depiction of today’s crushing globalised pressure prepares us for two miracles of dance. Firstly, a ticking clock accompanies a mesmerisingly mathematical performance that seems repetitive. Then a handheld strobe light is walked towards Mok, generating a stunning montage of angular poses.

Tapping on the floor, on a chair, on flesh is a recurring trope, and has a glorious impact on sounds which ricochet and ripple thanks to Eric Chan’s mesmerising creativity. Four wooden legs are ruthlessly smacked against the floor (which itself has received a beating by this point); soon after, a much larger, crisp paper blanket emerges. The man who manually operated lights and cameras now joins in with the chaos: the two performers are a tangle of confusion that reaches a peaked climax. I do yearn for more elevation though, as so much of the routine is focused on the ground.

Rarely does Mok fully extend a limb (her bow being the exception): I suppose this demonstrates the limitations autism, the condition which inspired Mok, at times imposes. When photos, video, shadow and silhouette converge in a second masterstroke (live and recorded projections are interwoven perhaps to demonstrate a fragmentation of the individual), it’s nothing short of spiritual. Real and imagined can no longer be differentiated as Mok makes a surprising leap into the screen. Oscillating between suffocating and life-affirming, Perceptual Landscape must be traversed by us all.

Reviews by Jake A Ellamen

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★★★★
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Performances

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The Blurb

An unconventional experiment of light, sound and physical theatre. Inspired by autistic children, Jenny Mok, director of Galway Fringe Best International Performance Award 2014, explores the definition of reality in her breathtaking solo. Fifty minutes of sensational impact by Comuna de Pedra from Macau, China! With the strong intention to explore how light and sound can be an active choreographic/storytelling agent, Jenny and the team work on developing an innovative concept and a unique set of vocabularies to re-interpret the notion of reality and illusion, exploring light and sound as active performers in companion with the human body.

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