Digital Tattoo Review

How many hours do you spend on social media every day? If your phone is never off, then ‘Digital Tattoo’ will raise some awkward questions. But if you’ve ever posted a selfie while you were drunk, stoned or naked – or all three simultaneously – you need to see this. On prescription.

This multimedia performance, curated by Katie Dale-Everett, explores the unintended consequences of our virtual back catalogues. A posting you made ten years ago might never be erased. If you’re a ‘digital native’ – born after 1980 – that could scar your life.

‘Digital Tattoo’ is an extraordinary achievement. It splices together film clips, audience participation and dance. There’s a menacing backing track from Tom Sayers. And it always maintains a firm grip on the theme.

It starts with a gritty art film–come–documentary showing personal accounts of cyber despair. A keyboard snaps out words on screen. Privacy! Go! Commit!

There’s dialogue with members of the audience. We use our phones to respond to commands from a disembodied voice. “Have you ever judged others on social media?” Here it’s real-time art research into our online craving.

We then follow the story of two young lovers conjured by exquisite chorography. Projected tattoos fall on their dancing bodies. Their descent into public intoxication is captured forever by selfies.

There was certainly a spooky moment at the end. The voice asked us: “all those who are on Facebook stand up now”. The audience obeyed and silently stood. I sat still with one other digital nobody.

‘Digital Tattoo’ was inspired by a TED Talk. Katie became fascinated by how our online posts become ‘part of ourselves’ but also our right to be forgotten. “I’m not preaching…but I want people to consider what they put up online and the consequences.”

Katie is committed to creating new mixed-media art forms to explore big themes. ‘Digital Tattoo’ brings it all together with beauty. Watch out for more.

The Circle Arts Centre Portslade, Friday 21st April 2017
Words by Mike Aiken
Photos by Luke Lebihan and John Hunter

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Mike Aiken

Mike lives in Brighton. This is a full time occupation. He's also a researcher, writer and activist. Any time left over he spends hanging around cafes and pubs listening to people on their phones. He loves theatre that pokes into difficult places. You won't find him on Facebook.

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