Un tour de magie
At night, the mystery of the spectacle takes again its rights. At 7 p.m., under the ‘chapiteau’, the Austrian Klaus Obermaier presented Apparition, his last creation. Two dancers, a screen and different projection treatments on their body and using the screen. Moving lines seem to cut out space in sections. A setting of whole beauty, ‘un tour de magie’, a trip of magic.
- Le Monde France – July 2, 2005

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Head-trip filled with wonder

Spellbinding: Technology became the ‘third partner’ in Apparition along with the two dancers, stretching the realm of the possible.
APPARITION, which opened on monday, is a collaboration between Vienna-based cross-media artist Klaus Obermaier and an international team including London-based dancers Robert Tannion and Desiree Kongerod, with technological wizardry provided by Ars Electronica FutureLab and Hirokazu Kato.
Obermaier is the creator of acclaimed shows such as D.A.V.E. – which premiered at the Singapore Arts Festival in 2000 – and Vivisector, both of which fused choreography and live media to spellbinding effects.
In this third production, Obermaier and crew have gone one step further and used real-time interactive technology in their work, and the results are no less spectacular. In a tightlyknit hour, technology became the “third partner” along with the two dancers, stretching the realm of the possible. All this unfolds to a pulsing electronic soundscape composed by Obermaier himself.
And, boy, is it one spectacle that lives up to the description and pedigree. From the impressive opening scene where dancers are connected by a living line of light to the succeeding visuals of bending, dancing and exploding lines, whirls, dots and pixels, Apparition is not just a heard-trip, but one filled with wonder.
The ever-changing landscape of black and white seemed to envelop the two dancers sometimes like electromagnetic fields, other times to challenge them or sprout organically from them. Developed entirely for this performance, the manipulated visual technology adds up to a magical show. It is not all about the software, though; the strength and stamina of the dancers as well as the chemistry between them are eminently watchable too. Tannion and Kongerod are able collaborators in this piece, using their sculpted bodies to present clean, structural shapes on which contrasting lines or words could be projected. They were otherwordly organisms as much as they were a tumbling, entwining duo. Granted, the piece was not terribly emotional at its core, but there were many segments when it was more about the craft of the dancers than it was about the skill of science. The use of live media in dance performance is not new, but with a conductor like Obermaier, the final result is nothing short of awerinspiring.
- The Business Times Singapore – Sangeetha Madhavan, June 8, 2005

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Measuring the Emperor’s New Clothes
Two figures: one male and one female are silhouetted on the stage. Their smooth, geometrically patterned gestures and pathways are echoed by a line of light projected onto a plain backscreen. This living line is closely linked to the two figures: it shrinks as they move towards each other, and, as their movements become faster and more complex, it begins its own dance, splitting into a splay of separate lines, or joining to form a looping helix, and pulsating merrily throughout. This is the opening scene of Klaus Obermaier, Desiree Kongerod and Rob Tannion’s collaborative project “Apparition”. It is only after about 15 minutes that the faces of latter two, the silhouetted performers, can be seen, although they have been vibrantly visible from the start. Soon, they return to synthesised anonymity. Parallel lines of light sprout upwards from the floor of the stage like strange blades of cyber grass, gradually filling the back wall. Accompanying electronically produced sounds are metallic. The dancers have become encaged by strips of light. Then they too are lit in stripes, which rotate through 360 degrees as they start to walk around the stage, rendering them as simply human figures again, this time contoured. Sustained sequences of lingering inverted yoga postures demonstrate the performers’ powerful strength and concentrated stamina (later, they further prove their mettle through a risky contact sequence). The contouring lights develop into elaborate patterns, distorting the dimensionality of their bodies, giving the impression of movement where there is stillness and iridescently enhancing their already luminous presence. How is all this technology manipulated, I cannot help wonder. Which comes first — the movement or the light? Or are both exquisitely timed and rehearsed to produce these breathtaking effects? How much is rehearsed? And how much is produced on the night via the vast Starship Enterprise switchboard set up in the centre of the Queen Elizabeth Hall auditorium? As the work evolves and generates more and more configurations of the use of this technology, I forget these questions, and succumb to a different kind of wonder: I almost have to stop myself from ‘ooohing’ and ‘aahing’ as if at a firework display. If only Loie Fuller were alive to see all this.
Kongerod and Tannion’s movement vocabulary seem to emphasise the surfaces of the body and its musculature, lines, curves and symmetries (both are blessed with biology textbook physiques), rather than its thoughts and emotions. Yet, there are allusions to a deeper conceptualisation of the body and a questioning of its place and its significance amongst all this scientific wizardry. Text is projected onto Rob Tannion’s stationary crucifix-posed body, progressing from left to right as though being read. Or, perhaps these words are writing themselves onto him whilst he remains passive. Now he moves also and the letters become a jumble of code. Hypertext to hyper-active-text.
“Apparition” is clearly all about perceptions. In the past, fusions of dance with techno-effects have been associated with ideas of illusions of the body as infinite and to the space age (“Ghosts & Astronauts”, for example). I think “Apparition” pushes a step beyond consciously produced mystique: it is very much about showcasing how things can be made to appear, rather than fabricating how the choreographer hopes the audience will see things.
In the past, too, there has been a general feeling amongst dance criticism that the increasing collaboration between dance/choreography and digital/screen technology is a positive and exciting development for the field. It is highly theorised, but in practise is often a little “Emperor’s New Clothes” – esque. A few commented that Klaus Obermaier’s last project “Vivisector” was intriguing and conceptually exciting, but did not contain enough substance to be sustainable as an hour-long piece of entertainment. That was two years ago, and things move fast through wires. “Apparition’s” premiere was received enthusiastically, inciting prolonged rapturous applause.
- Ballet-Dance Magazine London – Cerise, November 2004

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Strong-arm tactics
We had a light show of a different kind at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with Apparition, by the Austrian cross-media artist Klaus Obermaier. His computer wizardry transforms the dancers’ bodies – they mutate, fragment, blend into each other, resemble faceless brick figures by Antony Gormley and even appear to levitate before our very eyes. Threads of light, tracers, link and follow the sturdy dancing couple, Desireé Kongerod and Robert Tannion, as they interact with a full-stage screen of dazzling digital patterns – pinstripes, pixels, lines that bend and billow like flexible needles, sprays and whorls, galaxies streaming into a black hole. It makes for a brilliant spectacle …
- Sunday Times London – David Dougill, October 3, 2004

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Apparition
Austrian cross-media artist Klaus Obermaier, creator of cult shows DAVE and Vivisector, offers a spellbinding glimpse into the brave new world of dance. Using state of the art technology, Obermaier projects light and images onto moving bodies, creating illusions that leave us gaping. Not only do the dancers seem to exist beyond gravity and to move at impossible speeds, they appear to shift shape, dissolve, mutate and even change their molecular structures. Obermaier’s latest work, Apparition, builds on that technology for yet more mind-bending effects, but also factors in opportunities for dancers Rob Tannion and Desiree Kongerod to activate the technology themselves. Yet more unpredictable, unanalysable magic.
- The Guardian London – by Judith Mackrell, September 18, 2004

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Can you dance with a computer?
Well, if you’re a scientific wizard called Klaus Obermaier you can. The Austrian wunderkind behind the stunning Vivisector and D.A.V.E. is back with another show that seamlessly mixes cutting-edge technology with contemporary choreography.
Where Vivisector hypnotically blurred visual perception by focusing pinpoint projection on four live performers, Apparition ups the inventive stakes by utilising a cunning system that allows the performer and the machine to interact in the way that real dancers do. …
As showed with Vivisector, Obermaier combines his technical prowess with a showman’s eye for the spectacular – he’s an experimentalist who never loses sight of entertainment.
- METRO London – Keith Watson, September 24, 2004

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Ars Electronica Asks What Will Be Next
… Music and dance also are part of Ars Electronica. Over the weekend there was a well-received performance of a dance piece, “Apparition,” designed and composed by Klaus Obermaier, in which two dancers begin by playing with lines projected behind them and quickly move to more complex interactions. Desiree Kongerod and Robert Tannion’s precise, vigorous performance brought a storm of applause afterward.
- New York Times – by ED WARD, September 8, 2004

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“Apparition”, the fascinating hallucination of Klaus Obermaier
It is not at all so simple to describe, what fascinatingly confuses the visual sense in such a manner.
An enormous canvas, on which video projections of fully suggestive strength run, contributes to the confusion of the visual sense: Optical patterns in enormous rate seem to move three-dimensional into infinite depths. The two athletic dancers – Desiree Kongerod and Robert Tannion – are canvas for film pictures, which are accurately co-ordinated with the respective movements: On their bodies one imagines, one draws, one writes. Klaus Obermaier, by this quite also sensuous symbiosis of humans and technology, has again created natures, which act between physical presence and virtual dissolution. The Linzer David Copperfield of the illusion and hallucination transfers the thought of immersing into the own brain in an unbelievably impressing way: From stroboscope effects results a suction, which lets the dancer disappear in the own heading and from which also the public cannot extract itself. All this to dark, dynamic and rhythmic synthesizer sound. One hour concentrated watching and enthusiastic applause.
- Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten Linz – Silvia Nagl, Sept. 6, 04

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The future is (at least also) physical
Klaus Obermaiers “Apparition” was presented on Saturday in the Posthof: Light grows on two dancers, fulfills the bodies, falls on it, pulls it to soil and removes it again. A fascinating deception and camouflage, with the punchline that the light acts like a sophisticated subject, which is subjected to the force of gravity. And the dancers dance in the half world between them. Must be repeated!
At least one has seen a future of the dance in Linz.
- Die Presse Vienna – Thomas Kramar, September 6, 2004