Saw Cthulhu at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute, not the Great Cthulhu that Lovecraft wrote about (I’m not mad), but one of the lesser Cthulhus. Presented by the Centre for Projection Art as part of Frame: a biennial of dance 2023 Cthuluscene by transmedia artist Megan Beckwith was a combination of dance and technology.
The Centre for Projection Art is best known for presenting the Gertrude Street Projection Festival. The Centre’s objective is to activate spaces, and the Mechanics Institute’s forecourt is one of the closest things to a civic square in Brunswick. Various things have been tried for decades to activate it with more or less success. They probably discussed this in very different terms when it was a Mechanics Institute in the 1890s.
Cthuluscene is a dance and video work looping on four screens in the front windows of the white neo-classical building. The windows hadn’t been cleaned, and there were a few cobwebs, but that was the spookiest aspect. If only a spider had crawled out while I was watching.
The animation and motion capture was attractive, but the dance part was the weakest aspect, with conventional moves that contributed little to any meaning. The dancer’s gold tentacles and golden robot form spoke more of absurd luxury rather than cosmic horror. But then considering the “transformative nature of the digital to discover different notions of gender, physicality, and the post-human” is an absurd luxury.
I’m familiar with the horror stories of H P Lovecraft and the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, as will some of my readers. So at least that gave me something to write about. Often I neglect to write about exhibitions like this because there is little to say about them. Sometimes, there is so little to them. Either way, it is a painful exercise to put into words with no pressing reason. It is not as if there is a need to warn people to stay away from a monster—the curse of the two-star review.