Light Art Space gGmbH

Marianna Simnett
GORGON

13 — 17 September 2023

HAU Hebbel am Ufer (HAU2)

Marianna Simnett’s ambitious stage debut draws on Greek mythology to explore love, envy, power, and empathy in the age of machine learning.

During Berlin Art Week, LAS is proud to present the world premiere of GORGON, a flute opera written, composed, and directed by artist Marianna Simnett. The newly commissioned work is a powerful exploration of the horror and beauty of society in transition. Unfolding through sound, projection, and dance, GORGON makes innovative use of artificial intelligence (AI) as a medium within live performance, shaping its form and narrative.

Simnett’s new piece draws on the origins of the word ‘gorgon’, which comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘gorgós’, meaning dreadful. It is thought to derive from the same root as the Sanskrit word ‘garjana’, describing a growling sound produced in the back of the throat. The performance roots itself in the gendered way that these meanings appear in the myth of the Gorgons. In the story, Greek hero Perseus kills Medusa, the only mortal of three Gorgon sisters, with the help of the god Athena. Hearing the terrifying force of her sisters’ cries of grief, Athena invents an instrument to reproduce the power of their lamentation.

Simnett’s performance transports this archaic tale of pain and power into a contemporary fairy tale. It centres on Greta, a girl working the night shift at a train station doughnut stand, and Gorgon, a shape-shifting entity whose piercing wail can shake the ground. One night, the drudgery of Greta’s job propels her into a vision of being a corporate queen, presiding over an office at the edge of a forest. She becomes set on harnessing the power of Gorgon’s harrowing cry, and begins the pursuit. When a chorus of fireflies lures Greta into mimicking the Gorgon’s wail, the two come face-to-face. Greta’s tools prove incompatible with the world she encounters, and she is forced to give up her desire to own and control it. Slowly, Greta’s body and mind are transformed as she and Gorgon finally come to see one another’s vulnerability.

GORGON brings together collaborators from the fields of classical and contemporary flute, performance, choreography, set design, costuming, video, and AI. Its innovative integration of AI spans video projections and Simnett’s original musical score. The score features a chorus of live flautists whose playing is transformed into AI-generated sounds, as well as voice style transfer, both produced in real-time using custom AI models.

Merging mythology with technology, GORGON asks complex questions about desire, power, gender, the body, intelligence, empathy, and the Other. With cultural references stretching from early human technologies to posthuman theory, the performance is an astounding look at the distress, transformations, and possibilities spurred by technology’s advancement. In a moment marked by the rapid development of AI, GORGON offers timely commentary on how we meet the uncanny, the unwieldy, and the unknown.

Artist

Marianna Simnett

Marianna Simnett is an artist and musician living and working in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited internationally in solo exhibitions at venues including Société, Berlin (2022); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2019); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich (2019); MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2018); The New Museum, New York (2018) and Zabludowicz Collection, London (2018). Selected group exhibitions include Chrysalis: The Butterfly Dream, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (2023); the 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams (2022); Espressioni: The Epilogue, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2022); and Prize of the Böttcherstraße, Kunsthalle Bremen (2022).

Press

06

Credits

Commissioned by LAS Art Foundation

Director, Composer, and Librettist
Marianna Simnett
Producer
Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg

CAST

Greta
Jess Aszodi
Gorgon
Marianna Simnett
Hans
Maria Portela Larisch
Dog
Holly+
Flautists
Roy Amotz, Julie Huguet, Malin Sieberns, Kristóf Siklósi

TEAM

Director of Photography
Leander Ott
Set Designer
Emilia Margulies
AI Technologist
Moisés Horta Valenzuela
Music Development and Arranger
Jeremy Woodruff
Choreographer
Margrét Bjarnadóttir
Costume Designer
Charlotte Buchal
Gorgon Costume Designer and Fabricator
Yao Liao
Makeup
Victoria Plekhanova
Hair
Sara Matthiason
Casting Director
Eva Vollmar
Technical Producer
Wibke Tiarks
Lighting Designer
Sebastian Zamponi
Projection Designer
Timur Novikov
Gaffer
Mahdiye Agahi
AI Dataset Assistant
Ian Berman
Visual AI assistance
Alan Ixba
Editor and Visual Effects
Marianna Simnett
Music Mastering
Enyang Ha
Associate Set Design
Robin Plöger
Sound Technician
Mattef Kuhlmey
Director’s Assistant
Emilia Schupp
Video Shoot Assistants
Jasmin Halama, Andrea Palacios, Kohei Takahashi
Assistant Set Design
Wiebke von Bremen, Josephine Conen
Intern Set Design
Kristin Jakubek, Lucie Skifski
Prop Builder
Baptiste Pays
3D Designer
Hannah Rose Stewart
Assistant 3D Design
Dennis Wintermeyer
Costume Consultant
Mona May
Costume Fabrication
Elodie Carstensen
Costume Ager
Julia Schell
Mask Designer
Marianna Simnett
Libretto Development
Andrew Wagner
Stage Hands
Rebecca Lyons, Leander Kreissl, Tarek Sayoud

Marianna simnett studio

Andrew Wagner
Ksenia Jakobson
Isobel O'Gorman
Emilia Schupp

Organised for LAS by

Project Manager
Flinder Zuyderhoff-Gray
Creative Producer
Eva Mikelatou
Curator
Carly Whitefield
Assistant Curator
Sophie Korschildgen
Curatorial Advisor
Tilman Kanitz
Head of Marketing and Communications
Felix Thon
Communications Manager
Marietta Auras
Press Relations
Ann-Charlotte Günzel
Communication and Marketing
Evelyn Nossol
Social Media Manager
Veronica Jonsson
Content Creator
Carole Hassoun
Event Planner
Louise Nielsen
Supporters

In kind support

image/svg+xml
Partners

Special Thanks to

Media Cooperation