Currently on view at Tate Liverpool, “Sprung a Leak” is a play about how information and emotion moves through infrastructure and their impact on the human condition. Performed by two humanoid robots (named A Plot and B Plot), a robot dog (C Plot), a network of 27 screens, and a water fountain it explores the necessary collaboration between humans and machines, examining how the failures of both are common grounds to address larger themes like freedom, contagion, and survival. The three acts centre around leaks and blackouts of information that impact the robots, as well as three users (who appear on screens, rotating and tethered to poles). An armless, grey beauty blogger named Liberty becomes their idol and increasingly distresses them as her life appears to be in peril. Chronological time eventually becomes secondary to the feelings in the room, as Liberty dies and un-dies, they all die and travel backwards then jumping forwards – ready and desperate for a leader to emerge and indicate a way forward.
The ten works presented in the exhibition feature storyboard-like graphics (test cards) starring the Plots (A, B and C) that imagine scenarios born from the reality of the play as well as realities that have emerged from its automated, durational performance. They are housed within custom data servers and gauzy packing materials, tools of storage and protection. The servers function as continuation of Evans’ work exploring the materiality of information and data, the emotional value of what is stored in digital media (and thusly the materiality of feelings themselves). Mounted to plexiglass stands, the server sculptures perform an active fragility.
To Evans, ‘Machines, and computers, are at their most human when they fail. They are made from humans’ ideas and ideals.’ “Test Cards: Sprung a Leak” continues to imagine the impact of and parallels to these machines in our everyday lives.
All photos Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna