Generation (wh)Y?

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This morning most of us rolled over to unlock our phones, checking Facebook and other social media websites out of habitual dependency. This practice has become as common as sipping coffee with the morning paper used to be. Technology is a necessary part of life for the current generation of youth and young adults, and an enticingly mind-numbing pastime that has gripped our brains without a lot of concern redirected back at it by the general public. Inquisitive concern about this technological dependency, however, is what motivated choreographer Ashleigh Claire Miller to create her newest work, A Crowdsourced Guide to Generation Y. The project has many facets: Generation Y is a website, blog, video, sound share, as well as live performance piece. The work was largely inspired by conversations Miller had with her flat mate while living in New York, earning her BFA in Dance at New York University. The project’s culmination, the third and final phase, will be performed this Thursday, September 11, at FRED Wildlife Refuge.

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A Crowdsourced Guide to Generation Y
Photo by Rhylissa Doxzen

As she introduces it on the homepage of the piece’s website, Generation Y is “an art piece by the technology generation, for the technology generation.” Miller first became speculative about her comfort with technology’s future as she and her flat mate, a computer programmer, would discuss his work and how technology was evolving. She began to ask herself “why?” Why is technology evolving in the direction it appears to be heading, and most importantly, why would we want it to? With Generation Y, Miller continues to examine that question in a variety of ways.

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A Crowdsourced Guide to Generation Y
Photo by Rhylissa Doxzen

In a recent interview with SeattleDances, Miller explained that her intention with Generation Y was to create a piece of art that would motivate discussion about technological advancement and bring greater awareness to the issue. She admits that the piece leaves the audience with no direct conclusion, though this was purposefully done. Her intention was not to tell the audience how they should feel about technology, but rather to ask them to reexamine their stance on the issue. There are three phases to Miller’s project. The third and final phase is a site specific piece to be performed at the FRED Wildlife Refuge this Thursday. The performance relies on the venue’s curved walls to create an inhuman dynamic within the choreography. Utilizing the walls to assist their movements, the performers support each other in partnered lifts and Spiderman-esque scaling of the blank, white backdrop. The effect is especially impressive considering the intimate size of the venue. As the dance progresses, the choreography shifts—the organic movement is taken over by broken variations that dismiss the intention of the body’s natural rhythms. The costuming further reflects this shift and the work’s overarching plot: the dehumanization of the human organism, as the performers begin to fade into the mechanism, becoming simply another cog in the machine.

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Screenshot from the film in Phase Two of
A Crowdsourced Guide to Generation Y

While the final phase is to be experienced live, the first two phases of Generation Y are web based. Phase one is the project’s website. The website offers links to further reading that inspired the piece, a Facebook status poem generator, artist information, and sound compositions contributed by the community. The website makes the project accessible to anyone, an attribute that highlights the beauty of technology today. Phase Two is a short film previewing pieces of the Phase Three performance. Miller is confident that the short film will not deter viewers from the live event, and simply hopes that viewers will gain the experience they seek from the piece. Whether they are only able to access the online content or they are able to attend the show, she just wants her work to be seen and heard. The mode in which viewers interact with Generation Y is not as important to her as the impact she hopes it leaves on her viewers. Regardless of whether the viewer accesses the first two phases, the live art installation dance event is sure to be a thought provoking experience. To find out more information about the show, the performers, and the project visit the Crowdsourced Guide to Generation Y website. Tickets for the performance are available here for $15.