There’s some interesting movement, sounds, props and images in “AI Sensorium,” a world premiere about the growing pervasiveness of artificial intelligence and machine learning onstage at ODC Theater in The City this weekend.
But the multimedia piece presented by Kinetech Arts — a group of Bay Area dancers, composers, writers and computer designers dedicated to “socially responsible performances,” according to program notes — falls short in making a clear statement delineating the dangers to humanity of what have become commonplace digital age practices.
The 70-minute program choreographed by Daiane Lopes da Silva (in collaboration with Weidong Yang and the dancers) has three acts, accompanied by varied electronic soundscapes by Patricia Alessandrini and Tim Russel, an installation design Michael Koehle, visual design by Raymond Larrett and Yang, and lighting by Harry Rubeck.
The show opens with a poet (Vidhu Aggarwal) hiding behind a mask, doing a monologue, describing “warm fluffy loaves of data” and other foreboding aspects of contemporary life.
Then, from the audience, Lopes da Silva begins her eye-catching solo. Sleek in a blue jumpsuit, capped head and wearing an electronic device that changes sound, she saunters down the aisle, touching patrons, emitting noise and a distorted, altered version of the opening poetry. Onstage, she dances like an anime character to blaring, droning or haunting electronic sounds.
The segment ends as she touches a mirror, her handprint remaining.
In the second and third acts, dancers Chelsea Reichert, Gizeh Muniz, Julia Rubies Subiros and Samuel Melecio-Zambrano go on wide-ranging journeys, accompanied by balloons, projections (of faces, connecting wires and computer interfaces), mirrors, and most prominently, a big, huge, clear beach ball (they blow up using a vacuum cleaner) that ultimately serves as a cage.
More distorted noises also enter the soundscape.
While there’s plenty to look at and listen to throughout the show, and the performers and creators clearly are committed, “AI Sensorium” lacks a clear or obvious metaphorical narrative. Ultimately, it registers more as a sometimes intriguing high-tech jumble than a satisfying investigation or critique of the virtual modern world and the ever more blurry line between what’s fake and what’s real.
Presented by Kinetech Arts
Where: ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 22-23