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Graceful geometry

Rebecca Camilleri and Ira Melkonyan performed a series of finely choreographed motions in a 10-minute loop for an hour. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Rebecca Camilleri and Ira Melkonyan performed a series of finely choreographed motions in a 10-minute loop for an hour. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Installation
Rubberbodies Collective
St James Cavalier

It is unfortunate that, for many, the reconciliation of the branches of the arts and the sciences is hard to fathom.

Their motion was all about the mathematical beauty underlying all physical structures

Gone are the days of the polymath – when discovery and creativity went hand in hand and fuelled each other.

For all the hi-tech comfort that it has to offer, what the 21st century needs is an 18th-century frame of mind when it comes to appreciating the beauty of functionality and vice-versa.

This is precisely the frame of mind behind Science in the City, a month-long event combining arts and sciences that was launched last week and which is the first festival of its kind in Malta.

The Rubberbodies Collective was one of the artistic collaborators of a science-inspired art exhibition at St James’ Cavalier. Their live interactive performance entitled Inverting Geometry was a digital performance installation inspired by research into auxetics by Joe Grima and Daphne Attard.

Auxetic materials become thicker perpendicular to the force exerted upon them, causing their hinge-like structures to open up and expand when they are stretched, instead of becoming thinner.

These structures can be single molecules or part of more complex structures and their behaviour makes them likely to absorb energy better and have a stronger resistance to fractures.

A graphical representation of these structures on a cellular level is similar to webs of geometrical shapes and this is precisely what the Rubberbodies Collective attempted to explore in their animated version of these materials.

Rebecca Camilleri and Ira Melkonyan, dressed entirely in white bodysuits wearing helmets to which a light bulb was attached, one in red and one in blue, went through a series of finely choreographed motions in a 10-minute loop for an hour in performances on September 26 and September 28.

Accompanying them was a large projection by digital artist Anthony Askew, representing the collapsing, reforming and expanding geometric shapes and the tracks of Brazilian sound artist Andre Borges.

With movements which were slightly robotic but contrived to appear fluid, the image these two performers created was one of perfect synchronicity.

Starkly white, the dimensions of the exhibition space enclosed the two and set them against the brightly lit backdrop of Mr Askew’s projection, making them appear as two magnified molecules dancing to a rhythm of life which is methodical and comforting.

Their motion was all about the mathematical beauty underlying all physical structures and exposed the hidden science behind the ordinary which we do not always associate with the complex.

At times staring deliberately blankly and at others using glances to communicate with each other most meaningfully, the two cells took their predestined trajectory and exposed it to the audience with movements reminiscent of mime, contemporary dance and yoga.

Melkonyan and Camilleri both showed great discipline in the repetition of their routine and performed it so consistently that it was hard to notice the repetition at first because it seemed like a continuous flow of energy.

The final result was truly an example of how the wonderful forms of geometry can be “inverted” to create the beauty of artistic expression.

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