Expand the Tactile Sensation of the Extended Body Part – interview with Alva MORGENSTERN

“I imagine the human body as an open system embedded in and in exchange with the environment. The environment are the visuals that permeate the body.” How can the visual re-define the relation of the performer with her body? How does environment and the body as an open system interact with each other? Alva MORGENSTERN, Austrian choreographer and performer answers these questions. 


Interdisciplinarity, interrelations between digital art, technology and performing art defines your work. What moves you to this kind of artistic approaches?

My interests – hence practices – have always been diverse. So instead of focusing on one single area I have allowed myself to follow my various interests and I enjoy expanding my skills. In addition to that, some ideas require an interdisciplinary approach in order to realize them.


Your very first works were dance pieces. How did you start opening up for more technology based visuals. Did the new media change your relation to dance?

I have always had a love affair with visuals… but it took a roundabout way until I got to the point of actually creating them.

I started experimenting with video at the same time I started dancing professionally and as a matter of course I began combining these two areas from the outset.

After focusing on dance for a few years I decided that it was time for a change and to further my education. I did an MA in Collaborative Arts in Chichester, where I primarily concentrated on video and immersive art. During these years I started to develop an interdisciplinary approach into art and performance as an expanded field, embracing sonic arts, video and fine arts. As for video, my interest shifted towards video processing and post-production, first focusing on transforming and abstracting the human figure and later on the creation of visuals and audio-visual environments.

This eventually led me to combine video projections with live performance, exploring how the motion, dynamics and shape of the moving image influences the way the performer’s body or motion is perceived and vice versa. I usually treat image and performing body as equal “partners” and look out for moments where a symbiotic relationships between these two unfolds. It’s the intersection I find interesting, where moving image and moving body intertwine. I imagine the human body as an open system embedded in and in exchange with the environment. The environment are the visuals that permeate the body.

However, I am not interested in technology for technology’s sake and I try to keep the technology as simple as possible.

Aurora Digitalis 2 - © Alva Morgenstern

Body extensions and video projection are the key words of your show Aurora Digitalis – meaning that the body experiences on-going transformations slightly slurring the boundaries of the body?

My interest usually lies in redefining the body itself and exploring issues of identity, the fluid self and aesthetics. When working on a performance I like putting myself or the performers I am working with in situations that induce altered body perceptions. Body extensions help me doing this. I find them intriguing – not only because of their aesthetic appeal – but also because of their ability to change the wearer’s perception of the body in space. The body extension becomes part of one’s body schema.

They are an interesting choreographic tool: depending on the type of extension, they can restrict the wearer’s movement to various degrees, but on the other hand they expand the tactile sensation of the extended body part. This forces you to break out of habitual movement patterns and develop new movement vocabularies for each extension.

► On the 30th May Alva Morgensterns performs in Bakelit Multi Art Center her piece Aurora Digitalis in the frame of smART XTRA 3.0 // CONNECTIONS ◄

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performance selected by the Active Spectators of Bakelit // Be SpectACTive!

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