Kjell Theøry is an adaptive Augmented Reality (AR) performance juxtaposing Alan Turing’s theory of morphogenesis, a mathematical account of patterns and forms in nature, with algorithmic mutations of the prologue to Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play, The Tits of Tiresias. In Apollinaire’s text, for which he coined the term surrealism, a woman named Theresa transforms into the blind, male prophet Tiresias, and her husband gives birth to 40,049 babies. Kjell Theøry responds to these disparate sources through programmed geo-spatial texts, choreographed movement, eye-tracking software, and interactive tattoos to explore the queer fluidity of systems and the poetics of blindness and sight.
A recorded live feed of the full performance is available below along with documentation of the work's various iterations over a multi-year lifespan. The AR poems in the work, created in the early AR environment, Layar, were lost when that technology was discontinued. A restoration of some of the poems in which source code is being re-mapped into open-source web-based AR for smartphones to reveal the original poetic architecture largely as it would have been experienced, is underway at:
While living briefly in Norway, I learned of Alan Turing's visits to Scandinavia seeking tolerance and following rumors of male-only dances. These travels took place after estrogen treatments, imposed as punishment for crimes of indecency in the UK, left him with gynecomastia, or the growth of male breasts. In this period, Turing developed his description of the chemical reactions behind natural forms into a theory that he named for a male Norwegian love interest.
Kjell Theøry evolved as a series of solo iterations and as a production of my collective Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r)
, premiering in January 2017 as a series of performances at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and an exhibition, Kjell Theøry: Prologue
at the International Museum of Surgical Science.
Variations and site-specific adaptations of Kjell Theøry have included Kjell, ør They, a film in collaboration with Julia Pello also included in the IMSS exhibition; The Empty House (MCA Chicago); Measure Zero Vestibule (Buenos Aires); Kjell or The Y (Black Mountain College); Kjell Theøry: An Excursion (Bergen, Norway); and ATOM-r Within House (Chicago).