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  • Chris O'Reilly

Live performances by machines are probably far away

He won a Grand Prix at Wandsworth Fringe in London this year and now it is Gothenburg’s honour to host him - Dan Simpson, stand-up poet and performer. He brings to Gothenburg Fringe his show ‘Artificial Ineloquence’ which relates to the interaction of humans and technological devices, that we can not imagine our lives without.

Leading to our conversation I am entirely positive about technology in our lives. But I start to question my views before our videochat conversation even begins. First Dan can’t hear me. Why? I anxiously check my microphone which seems to be working perfectly. Shall I try to type the questions? I do that awkwardly, then decide to use the app on my phone instead. Suddenly he can hear me. But I can’t hear him. In the end I can either hear or see him, but not simultaneously.

‘This is what I mean, - Dan says, - these things are supposed to make communication easier, but it only makes it more difficlult’.

We start to talk about the Fringe festival network. Dan has been to Edinbrough Fringe five times, and once to Wandsworth Fringe, where he immediately took the top prize. ‘What I love about Fringe festivals, - he says, - is how they are bringing lots of people together. People who don’t normally go to see poetry performances, only comedy, for example, come to see my show, and vice versa’. He is looking forward to checking out the other shows in his free time in Gothenburg. His performances are interactive - the audience plays a big role in them. In the end they write a poem together and make a colleclive selfie. Isn’t a selfie usually an expression of the most mundane in life? Maybe, if you don’t know the people, - he argues. ‘Because a selfie is taking control of how people see you - I’m not too negative about it’. In one of the videos on his website he says that technologists and scientists try to understand the world and communicate that back, and this is also what poets are trying to do.

‘So why this subject?’ - I ask. ‘Do you see technology as a threat?’ - ‘I am more scared of our response to technology’, - he answers. ‘Computers are going to take a lot of jobs and we [humans] are not very selfless. I have seen a TED talk wherethe audience is shown a comparison between poetry written by a person and by a computer and they can not tell the difference’. Yes, but isn’t poetry - his poetry in particular - supposed to be enjoyed in person? They even said that the theaters would close down after the arrival of televison, but people still go to see plays live? He agrees with that and adds that people, at least in the UK, are going to theaters, galleries and listening to live music more than ever now. ‘Live performance by machines is probably far away’, - he agrees. And we are grateful for it.

Dan Simpson is going to make 3 one-hour performances during his first visit to Sweden -

1/9 at 20:00

2/9 at 17:00

3/9 at 20:00 at Henriksberg, Stigbergsliden 7.

Katja Ivanova

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