Hey Google!

Hey Google! is an experimental dance performance done with a Google Home Mini smart speaker. The performance incorporates consultation with the audience via “choreographic cue cards” that activate the dancer and Google Home Mini. Dancer/choreographer Maura García, created this work by exploring her right to levity and asking:  "Are brown artists allowed to have fun? Are we allowed (or even able) to create from a light-hearted space of silliness, not tied to the realities of colonialism and racism? Must our work always be heavy?" 

One of the traditional roles that clowns or jesters play in Indigenous societies is to interrupt serious occasions and make fun of our rules. These misbehaving entities repeatedly disrupt protocol and ceremony to make room for foolishness and laughter. Like an Artificial Intelligence (AI) version of the clown, the irreverent Google Home Mini guides García through her exploration. The audience are witnesses and eventually accomplices. As García struggles with AI error and the unexpected, she challenges the seriousness of performance and makes space for the good medicine of silliness.
  • Performers: currently a solo
  • Length:  Performance Only option - 30 minutes, Full Immersive Experience option - 75 minutes (includes an informal participatory workshop + solo dance performance with audience consultation)
  • Venues: intimate spaces, gallery settings
  • Audiences: suitable for ages 13+   
Maura Garcia Dance held on Fundraiser on May 25, 2019 at The Carrack in Durham, NC  USA and presented an in-progress version of the Full Immersive Experience option 
Background - Artist Statement
As Indigenous choreographers presenting concert dance for the general public, we are “allowed” to be historic, tragic, stoic, cultural, mystical, troubled, educational, primitive... but never silly or whimsical. Is it a luxury to be silly, to create from a place of light-heartedness? If so, it is a luxury that Indigenous people and other people of color deserve.

To create Hey Google! I gave myself permission to leave inquiries into serious matters aside and create with “what happens if” curiosity. I began developing the piece in January 2019 as part of the National Choreographer’s Month (NACHMO) challenge. Using a series of semi-random NACHMO and self-devised prompts I created choreography phrases with accompanying cue cards. Throughout rehearsals I had been borrowing my friend’s Google home mini speaker to find holder music. I was amused, and sometimes annoyed, at the absurd responses I got to my requests. My original plan was to try and piece together set music for each phrase. However, I began to realize that google assistant was the perfect, errant, artificial intelligence partner for the piece.

Through this process I realized I had returned back to the cultural. There is a space that has been traditionally held in Indigenous societies around the world by the clown or jester. This misbehaving entity repeatedly disrupts the serious and predictable to make room for foolishness.

In Hey Google! I alternately collaborate and struggle with my AI trickster to disrupt notions of what we are allowed to be on stage and in life.
Photo credit to Spencer Scholes
Photo credit to Spencer Scholes