“The original meaning of Aether comes from Greek mythology and refers to the personification of the “upper sky”, space and heaven. In the late 19th century the term Aether was used to describe an elastic substance which filled all space, and supported the propagation of electromagnetic waves.
In 2004, I spent eight weeks developing Aether, a work about contemporary communication which originally premiered in 2005 at North Melbourne Town Hall, Arts House.
It evolved through the structuring of a dense texture of sound, movement and image reminiscent of the onslaught of information we are presented with daily and which seems to form part of the atmosphere in which we exist. We are forced to select what to let in and what to shut out, to make choices, and prioritise what is most meaningful or of most interest to us from the vast communications we receive from media, press, internet, email, phone etc.
In a similar way, I began to view the first part of the piece as a dense output of data from which the audience member must choose on what to focus. The role of the dancers in part one is to embody the fragmented yet constant presence of tele-communications. They do not represent people but rather generate the texture and timing of transmission: radio waves, changing TV stations, news flashes etc. Their bodies become caught between two movements, trapped by a pause button or attempt to tune in to a channel which eludes them.
In the second section of the work, I wanted to examine the difficulties that still exist in interpersonal communication in spite of the profusion of mediums with which to do it. In part two, they become individuals trying to make genuine connections with each other. They acknowledge the difficulties that exist in trying to get to know another person or tell them exactly what you mean.
This section of Aether also touches on the communication between performer and audience. For a moment we are allowed behind the presentation of rehearsed action and told in a direct manner about the realities of the performers’ situation.
It’s a joyous opportunity to be able to remount Aether for the Sydney Festival. It is one of my favourite works because of the wide range of performative skills that the dancers explored during its creation and which have continued to influence my approach to creating new works.”
Lucy Guerin (2008)