5 Feb. 2014
TBD takes inspiration from the Bardo Thödol, or Liberation Through Hearing During The Intermediate State, known commonly as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. This traditional Buddhist text is an auditory guide to the process of dying and rebirth, and is sometimes referred to not only as a guide to dying but also a guide to living.
TBD will be presented in two distinct phases: the first will take the form of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG), an event that typically involves activities in the real world enhanced through the use of smart phones and the Internet. The second phase will be a group experience that takes place in a closed environment.
Thematically, the goal of the project is to explore the tension that our constant involvement with technology creates by shifting our personal boundaries, redefining social interaction, and by compressing exterior and interior experience into something like the liminal realm known as the 'bardo'. The Tibetan Book will serve both as a structural anchor for the creative team, and as a guide to the audience’s sensual and emotional experience, which lasts, like the bardo state, 49 days and nights.
With TBD we propose to, with their permission, search for our audience using one or more free social media apps (such as Find My Friends). Based on data we collect thru these apps and from audience questionnaires, the creative team will develop a personalized narrative for performers to intervene in the lives of each audience member—invisibly at first, shifting reality in subtle ways that may be indistinguishable from coincidence: your favourite fruit appears on your desk, someone plugs your meter, the barista compliments your new haircut. Taking place over seven weeks, these occurrences will emerge from the backdrop of daily life as portents — disorienting, but also exciting as they become increasingly personal and engaging: you find a wallet containing a message for you, an eloquent stranger shares a thought in a crosswalk, you pass a panhandler who calls your name. TBD will only occur with each participant’s full knowledge and consent, they may opt out of the experience at any time.
When the 49th day of the project arrives the second phase will begin with an invitation to a place that combines aspects of a clinic, shrine, and Virtual Reality studio. Imagine the scene of Sol’s death in the 1973 film Soylent Green, sans kitsch. As with the Tibetan Book, the goal is ‘Liberation through Hearing’ and much of this phase will be auditory as it was in our recent productions Fever and Babylonia, with audience members lying down, listening to a soundtrack on headphones. However, we also want to include at times a visual dimension, and therefore will equip our audience with video goggles for portions of this phase of the work.
The first phase of testing is complete and the Radix team is enormously excited about the discoveries so far. We are now planning another phase of testing for a larger group of people. Stand by for more information coming soon!