A multimedia extravaganza

IDIS 410 performance ! AUTO POWER OFF ! goes up in Grant Hall this weekend as a final assignment

! AUTO POWER OFF ! combines the talent of four departments: art, drama, film and music.
! AUTO POWER OFF ! combines the talent of four departments: art, drama, film and music.
Photo: 
The performance is completely designed by students.
The performance is completely designed by students.
Photo: 
The IDIS piece places the audience in the upper seating area of Grant Hall.
The IDIS piece places the audience in the upper seating area of Grant Hall.
Photo: 

Each year the IDIS 410 Contemporary Cultural Performance in Practice class claims a space and puts on a multimedia performance. Last year they were on a boat and this year the class will transform the very traditional Grant Hall.

The performance, ! AUTO POWER OFF !, combines visual art, music, art and film in a multi-media show complete with installations, projections and whatever else you can imagine.

Clark Mackey, a film and media professor, is one of four professors who teaches the class.

“It’s an interdisciplinary course,” Mackey said. “Originally it was proposed as what’s called a capstone course, which students are supposed to do in their fourth year and it’s supposed to be an amalgamation or culmination of the work that they’ve been doing over the time they’ve been at university.” The course is a rarity in the Arts and Science calendar as most departments stick to themselves. Mackey said he sees benefits to the risks involved in the course amalgamation.

“We combine fine art students, school of music students, drama and film students—all working together, all working in teams and often each group has a student from each discipline. A lot of people are required to do things they’ve never done before, like operate a film camera or make a radio show, or sow a big screen.”

The course also plays to students’ strengths.

“The drama students are acting in the radio show and the visual artists are building the miniatures,” Mackey said. “So you’re doing things you’ve done before and you’re doing things you’re good at. It’s all collaborative.”

The course takes on an open structure and allows the students to create in an open environment.

“The course takes on a loose, blank structure, allowing the students to create—we don’t have a script,” he said. “It was a blank slate when we started. It really gets people to do things they’ve never done before and take a lot of risks. And learn a lot of each other.”

Mackey feels it’s important to have interdisciplinary classes.

“I think the world is changing. There is a lot of interdisciplinarity in the professional world. Technology changes, audience changes and there’s a lot of new stuff going on. And I see a lot of people having to use a different skill set than they used to have 25, 30 years ago,” he said. “It also forces students to take a lot of risks, artistic and otherwise that maybe they wouldn’t do under normal conditions,” he said.

The class’ upcoming performance ! AUTO POWER OFF ! promises to be both a puzzling and enlightening experience.

“Audiences can expect to be surprised. It’s not necessarily something that will be immediately understandable on some sort of overt level,” Mackey said. “It’s going to have a lot of underlying meanings something that you have to go away and think about,” he said.

This year’s locale has also affected the performance in many different ways, Mackey said.

“Grant Hall is loaded with connations for Queen’s students and professors. In a way it epitomizes the tradition, the edifice, the conservatisms, the spirit of Queen’s in all kinds of ways,” he said. “It’s all of those things and they’re sometimes quite complicated in how they relate to each other. It inspired the pieces in ways we couldn’t have imagined.”

Having four professors may seem daunting, but Mackey said the instructors’ open-mindedness leaves students with a lot of freedom.

“We see ourselves as facilitators—we try not to dominate too much. We are following the group, but at times we have to take the lead to make sure it comes together.”

! AUTO POWER OFF ! didn’t have an intended theme, but as the piece developed two themes emerged, Mackey said.

“One of them has to do with the difficulties of relationships especially between genders and an overarching thing is a kind of apocalyptic vision of a dystopic future,” Mackey said. “So it has a certain kind of view of the world that’s quite powerful.”

The apocalypse and relationships—! AUTO POWER OFF ! will most likely get people thinking.

! AUTO POWER OFF ! plays tomorrow and Saturday in Grant Hall at 8 p.m.
Admission is free.

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