INFERNAL CAKES / ADJACENT MANIAS is a multimedia performance representing a hybrid of folk dance, early cinema, televised cook-offs, collision sports (with all of the surrounding pomp and circumstance), and video games. The piece explores the evolution of popular forms of human interaction including specifically: the cakewalk and its evolution a from a cathartic lampooning of plantation society dance into a county fair ceremonial game of chance; the square dance and its relationship as a variation on dances of similar sociological origin including the Quadrille; the live-telecast football event; the cooking-based time management video game.
The title itself is an amalgamation of two pieces of time-based media roughly 100 years apart: a piece of early cinema, George Méliès’s Cakewalk Infernal from 1903, and a recent Majesco/Digital Embryo video game developed for the Nintendo DS system, Cake Mania from 2007. Indeed the evolution of screen-based/time-based content from early cinema through to video game is among the considerations of the piece.
In terms of form, the piece uses two channels of projected video, mixed live, alternating between the live and the pre-recorded image, and projected above a group of live performers, who at times interacting with the projected video. The videos serve to propel a (loose) narrative while the live action is movement based and oft relies on chance and competition. Call and response takes place between the live and the recorded performers, and the pre-recorded video of the coaches and/or the referee directs the participants. Live movements include hybrids of cheerleading moves, square dances, football practice exercises, cake decoration and related forms of vernacular ornamentation, and silent cinema slapstick. Often the movements assume the form of competitive face-offs between teams, combining with traditional dance or video game based action.
Archetypes are reconfigured as sport-dance or sport-domesticity hybrids are created. Genders are swapped on a frequent basis between performers. Power relations are challenged through the hybridization of form and the reconfiguration of the function of gender in the narrative. Resolution is left to chance. The fusion and fission of cinematic and theatrical forms function alongside the creation and destruction of objects and entities in order to foreground the plasticity of the performed.