Tesseract by Charles Atlas, Rashaun Mitchell, and Silas Riener

Tesseract, a full evening theater performance created in collaboration with Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Reiner, consisting of Act 1: a stereoscopic 3D dance film and Act 2: a live dance performance with 3 live cameras mixed by me using VDMX and projected on a scrim in front of 6 dancers.

Charles Atlas

This project began at EMPAC in Troy, NY and had its premiere at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and had a brief US tour ending at Brooklyn Academy of Music in December. This piece will be shown in Europe sometime in 2018.

What is a “tesseract”?

“The hypercube or tesseract is described by moving the generating cube in the direction in which the fourth dimension extends.”

Robert T. Browne, The Mystery of Space

Robert A. Heinlein’s 1941 novella And He Built a Crooked House describes a California architect who designs a house based on a four-dimensional cube, a tesseract, comprised of eight cubed rooms.Unbeknownst to him or his clients, however,an earthquake has caused the invisible fourth dimension to shift prior to their first tour through the building. The tesseract house then takes its new inhabitants on a disorienting journey through multiple rooms, perspectives, and timescales that ends with another earthquake-induced slip of space/time as they are dropped with a jolt into the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. 

Charles Atlas, Rashaun Mitchell, and Silas Riener’s Tesseract charts a similar course: worlds shift and flip, and dancers spin and fall across unstable planes.

Parallel timescales are reflected back on themselves, and emotions run high as speed, scale, and gravity refuse to remain constant.

This journey starts from the perspective of 3D stereoscopic vision and progresses to the performative dimensionality of the theater stage. Although the artists had previously worked together with Merce Cunningham, Tesseract marks their first independent collaboration, and like the architect’s project in Heinlein’s novella, this ambitious work is conceived of as a chance to explore the potential of imagined architectures that can drift from cinema screen to proscenium stage. 

The word tesseract is derived from the Greek tessares, or four, and aktis, a ray of light. Atlas, Mitchell, and Riener’s Tesseract alludes not only to the romance of science fiction’s beaming rays, but also to light as the principal element of cinematography, projection, and theatrical technique. The artists combine aktis with the fourth dimension, usually understood as time. However, there is an extra-dimensionality here that is revealed through the interaction of the real and the imaged, the live and the recorded.



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