What relationship do we have with our cells? Do we think about them? Do we talk to them? Are we aware of the links, interactions and battles that are constantly developing in our body? We are part of a large interconnection system, a huge cluster of rarities yet to be explored.
Our cells collide, collaborate, chain, camouflage, commit suicide, create strategies, rebel, conceive, fight, work in teams and lead to extraordinary phenomena.
What about us?
Complex Systems is a new workshop where science, technology and humanities will go hand in hand while developing a collective performance. Based on the knowledge provided by a group of experts invited by the Èpica Foundation, participants will share their talents and skills in order to explore the limits of knowledge and discover new forms of creation.
In addition to the creative work, the results of the workshop will be useful to the invited experts to make inquiries in their work fields, giving them the opportunity to perfect simulation algorithms and making a contribution to social welfare.
La Fura dels Baus’ Èpica Foundation is a center of multidisciplinary creation around the performing arts, so the dialogue between humanities, science and technology is one of its fundamental principles. The exchange of knowledge, experiences and research done by the professionals involved will be paramount for the development of the workshop.
In addition to the merging of talents, another pillar of the Èpica Method is to work in action: beyond theories and reflections on concepts, most research and developments will come when they are put into practice. Exercises, tests and improvisations will be present in the workshop from its very inception and will inform the workflow.
Another of Èpica Foundation’s contributions will be Kalliope, the flagship mobile application in their performances. This app, designed especially for real-time audience interaction, offers a second narrative to the spectators: it complements the main plot of the show, guides the public through spaces and gives them advice and instructions on how to relate to their environment.
Among the invited experts are two research groups from the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute – which propose, on the one hand, to assess the perception of minor neuromuscular diseases and, on the other, to simulate the cellular movement of cancer; the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute –which will analyze the benefits in the memory system derived from emotional impacts-; UAB’s Philosophy Department – which will study team dynamics and how knowledge is transferred in groups of people – and the Gaming specialists of the University of The Arts Utrecht, who will observe how the strategies and roles of the games are applicable and transferable to other types of interactions.
For the execution of their studies, the invited experts transfer different proposalsto the workshop participants that are useful both in terms of the documentation for the performance and for carrying out scientific analyzes based on the created experiences. The Neuromuscular and Neuropediatric Diseases Research Group of the Germans Trias i Pujol Institute proposes that half of the participants experience first-hand the symptoms of two minority neurodegenerative diseases (FSH and ALS) while the other half act as their caregivers. In this way, everyone can approach the daily life of people who live with these pathologies in order to transmit their experiences to the public and, in addition, the IGTP can evaluate the way of feeling and experiencing their limitations in groups of individuals who are unfamiliar with these situations and compare them with actual patient perceptions.
For its part, IGTP’s Cancer and Epigenetics Group intends to study the dynamics of the cancerous process through activities in which cell behaviors are simulated by humans. To achieve this goal, participants develop actions where some of the behaviors of cancer cells are emulated, as well as the interactions between them. This allows to transform cell relationships into human relationships, thus creating a complex system and its presentation to the audience, and gives researchers the opportunity to analyze and interpret the results of the experiment to see how much cell behaviors resemble those of humans.
The gaming experts of the University of the Arts of Utrecht propose two game routines to the participants so they can be applied to the performance, either performatively or by testing them with the audience members. The first one, of disruption, raises the possible consequences of generating an established order and forcing it to be broken. The second one, of persuasion, aims to establish a game system that must be interpreted by the players, analyzing the way it grows. These two routines, added to the ideas of cellular interaction, serve as a source of inspiration for some scenes where an atmosphere of progressive chaos is generated from on a strict order.
For its research, the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute proposes three tasks: to study the benefits in the general memory system derived from the emotional impact of attending an Èpica performance as an audience member, analyzing the memory repercussions that can be derived from the simulation of diseases in the participants and, finally, evaluating the change in stereotypes towards patients that can be derived from the performance for both participants and audience members. This research is carried out with questionnaires that the objects of study must respond via website or through Kalliope, the massive interaction app that’s used in all of Èpica’s shows.