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Mirage is a performance installation with movement-based performance, video art, sound art and a series of mirror-booths.
Taking phantom-limb sensation as a “body-mirage”, and inspired by the work of neurologist V. Ramachandran, Mirage plays on perceptual illusion, the construction of hybrid forms, and the real and virtual fusing and separating.   It is an interactive labyrinth of perceptual illusion performed in a reflective pool amongst multi-dimensional projections.  The work is suitable for a wide audience upwards of twelve years old.  Mirage was created in the context of a fellowship awarded by The Australian Choreographic Centre to James Cunningham and Suzon Fuks. Premiered in November 2006 in Canberra.  Info about the R&D on the blog.


James Cunningham almost totally paralysed his left arm in 1992.   In his research about pain relief, he found a particular experiment immensely profound: the "mirror-box", designed by neurologist Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran, director of the Centre for Brain Cognition at the University of California-San Diego, used to alleviate amputees of phantom-limb pain. Observing the movement of his intact arm reflected in a mirror, it was as if James could suddenly feel his paralysed arm moving again, along with perceived weight, joint articulation and position in space. A bizarre experience when one knew that in fact the immobile arm was lying flat on the table.
Wanting to share this discovery with others - for them to gain a first-hand experience of the illusory nature of perception, the "mirage" of the mind - and to develop choreography driven by the actual movement possibilities of his partially-paralysed limb, which necessitates the rest of his body to creatively "serve" and thereby integrate its quirky, subtle, and loosely swung movements, he, along with Suzon Fuks, began formulating the project Mirage.
Having worked with movement in water, reflections and projections on black screens in their previous work Liquid Skin, they explore in Mirage further possibilities with these elements, and utilise their experience with the related technologies. In realising this project they have collaborated with other Brisbane-based artists - sound designer Andrew Kettle, set designer Alison Ross and lighting designer Morgan Randall. See artists Cvs.

Video-choreographic interaction

The long-term collaboration between choreographer James Cunningham and video artist Suzon Fuks explores the transcendence of space between live and virtual presence. In the devising process, content is developed simultaneously responding to interactions occurring across space, changing time frames, atmospheres, planes and physical orientations.  Projected images appear like holograms interacting with the live performer. Reflections shimmer off the black pool, creating phantom presences, mirages.
The dance between these various presences suggest struggle, co-operation, at times one is overlaying the other, fusing and then separating. Sometimes one is simply watching the other, mirroring their actions or guiding them like super-conscious forces.
Composite video images relay a poetic anatomy inspired by molecular and neurological biology, particle theory, prosthetics, mutation, and dissolution-reformation of matter.  Video is also used as morphing architecture of light, framing and contextualising the performer.

Kettle' sound design incorporates a tonal meditation based on anatomical measurements of James Cunningham as a digital instrument, a transmutational theme of a consciousness aware of its body as an evolving vessel struggling through prayer based on an ancient hermetic creation story, "Tabula Smaragdina", and a Jungian dissolving of the Ego.

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