Performance artist asks: What is real? 

Performance artist Sara Kraft makes mesmerizing art of big issues.

Her latest work, “HyperReal,” which receives its world premiere today through Saturday at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is an unflinching, multidimensional look at how technology shapes and contorts how we view and interact with each other and the world around us.

“This piece stems from a lifelong and very conflicted relationship with technology and media,” Kraft explained by phone. “My work is not easily reduceable and simple, but is very layered and touches upon a lot of different things. It’s not a play about people using Facebook; it’s an impressionist performance piece that is very physical and story-based, with a lot of visual projection and visual design done in collaboration with Ian Winters and other members of my visual design team.”

Kraft and crew use seven live cameras, multiple projections and interplay between performers and video to create a visually immersive environment.

Ultimately they address not only modern technology, but also reality and consciousness.

What is real, what is illusion, and what constitutes hyperreality are some of the questions that will occupy Kraft and fellow performers Sonsheree Giles and Jesse Hewit as they use text, song, sound, movement and live interactive video to examine the interrelationship of technology and body-mind.

“A lot of my interest in performance is about the struggle to stay embodied in a culture that is increasingly disembodied,” Kraft says. “Our culture has exponentially increasing reasons and means by which to be disembodied, and less and less encouragement and motivation to be physically embodied. This is part of what I explore in direct and indirect ways.”

It’s safe to assume that Kraft does not proceed from point A to point B in ways even your pet pooch would understand.

Instead, she uses multimedia, storytelling and metaphor to explore how we determine what is “real” in a world in which physical experience is manipulated and questioned to the point where reality becomes ephemeral.

Kraft has spent several years developing “HyperReal” with the support of YBCA, CounterPULSE, the Z Space/Magic Theatre New Works Initiative and other entities.

Research into neuroscience, cognitive science, consciousness studies, virtual reality, remote warfare, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorder, somatic theory, and Great White sharks plays its part in a work that examines how we inhabit and are inhabited in an age in which illusion masquerades as reality.

Today’s events feature a post-show Champagne reception; on Friday, there’s a post-show conversation. Go.

IF YOU GO
Sara Kraft’s ‘HyperReal’

Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday
Tickets: $20 to $25
Contact: (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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