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December 28, 2015
Review: Quantum Joy
Photo credit: Peter Yesley
Photo credit: Peter Yesley

The sound of waves crashing against a sandy shore. A beach ball rolls from the side downstage. A female voice recites lines from a poem created by an artificial intelligence. Images of palm trees, the ocean and sand fade on the back wall of the stage.

Cut. Victor Morales in a red hoody jumps on the stage as if announcing, “Here I am!" He is here and pulls everyone into his here and now.

It might be that Victor Morales, a visual and performance artist, once read Richard Feynman’s book What Do You Care What Other People Think? and decided to act out his insights into himself for others, creating a path into his mind for the audience. In Morales' performance Quantum Joy, at Dixon Place, science and computer games melt together with real lifetime experiences from his Venezuelan home. Technical devices on stage build the ambience for his performance while he steers and controls them from monitors and laptops on his desk and his mobile phone.

In this programmed, 3D environment, he guides us from the beach to his own museum: with broken-up forms, angles, spikes, Picasso paintings, and sharp edges, it's a 21st-century Dr. Calligari mixed with Cubism. Morales acts as the god and puppet master. We get to know Fred the puppet, an alter ego sitting next to Morales desk, and his 3D avatar Augustin, who runs around in the virtual environment while having conversations with Morales in Spanish about the pain of existence.

Beer is spilled onstage, mushrooms are rendered on the screen, and suddenly Morales is angry about violence. He refers to humans as particles; it seems he needs this world of science and broken characters to comprehend and reflect the cruel reality outside the safe haven of the theater.

Victor Morales created dozens of 3D virtual environments and jumps between them like a random algorithm. Prepare to watch a Dada experience by a tech nerd, the exploration of the visual and audio experience of an artist’s train of thought. Quantum Joy is a geek evening for those who know all too well that a digital imagination is a lonely place unless you share the beauty of it with someone else. Jump on a colorful journey, most enjoyable with a beer at hand.

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