Published Aug 24, 2018We've displayed the name of the artists above, but for their MUTEK set, the stage was completely empty. There were no physical performers for this show, as strange as that sounds. In a cold Scottish drawl, a disembodied voice told us that indeed that no artist will be present and also that they "wanted to have dark pulsating music and strobe lights in our face, but they decided to keep the strobe lights." Then, amidst jittery flashes of information we were told to connect to the wifi, under the name of the show, "Eternity Be Kind."
Sure enough, if anyone searched for local wifi signals inside the venue, that name popped up, and typing that same domain name into your browser brought you to the show's website. Once logged in, everyone then had their own personal visuals on their phone screen. The images tended to loop after a while, but they mostly consisted of Chinese symbols, nature shots and lots of people's faces blended together like Keanu's suit in A Scanner Darkly.
Simultaneously, on the big screen up front, there was a CGI avatar (who was the closest we got to an actual performer), that looked like a character option on Dance Dance Revolution. The music itself flipped between glitchy bass and cartoonish interludes, with high-pitched vocals. It wasn't too unlike Iglooghost's latest material at times.
Yet, with a show like this, it was more concept than music. Eternity Be Kind aimed to shine a light on non-physical identity, and our online presence. It looked at a possible alternate future for performance, which may not become a reality — after all, it was very impersonal — but it started a conversation, and that is what MUTEK has been all about this year.