Tulle/Tool / Erin Colleen Johnson and Ashley Ferro-Murray

Commissioned by ZERO1 with support from the James Irvine Foundation and funded by UC Berkeley Center for New Media

Tulle/Tool is the contemporary appropriation of an anachronistic feminist device. In 1832 French ballerina Marie Taglioni dawned the first tutu to dance the ballet La Sylphide. The tutu is made of tulle, light fabric that consists of strong hexagonal stitching. The light and strong makeup of the dancing skirt allowed for Taglioni to move around the stage more freely and to jump as high as her male counterparts. Since the nineteenth century, however, the tutu and its characteristic tulle technology has become the iconographic symbol of the female ballerina as sexual object.

Tulle/Tool explores the way that technological prosthesis can simultaneously empower and objectify the body. What is technology and what does it do to our identity? This performance is a new media artwork for which tulle is a movement sensor. By way of stripping digital devices from the performance environment we focus on the physicality of the human body as it has always interacted with objects. During a time when new media devices are often staged as trendy fetish objects, we take away the devices to think metaphorically and historically about bodies, movement sensors, and prosthetics. Tulle/Tool is a prosthetic dance between tulle netting and human agent.

September 14, 2012, 6:00pm - 12:00am
S. 1st Street (from San Carlos to Reed)
SoFA District, San Jose

Erin Colleen Johnson and Ashley Ferro-Murray

live and work in Berkeley, CA


Ashley Ferro-Murray is a media-based choreographer. Her practice is a performative engagement of kinesthetic and somatic experiences with technological devices. She incorporates everyday technology such as the iPhone into her work only to disrupt the ordinary use value of the device. Instead of talking on a cell phone, the choreographer programs the phone’s movement sensors to illustrate the ways in which the device affects movement patterns and somatic attention. Ferro-Murray has shown her work at The Milk Bar, Cornell University, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), University of Pennsylvania, and Bryn Mawr College. She is currently a PhD candidate at UCB in the Graduate Program in Performance Studies with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. Her dissertation is currently titled “Tactical Movement: Media-based Choreography and Its Effect on Digital Culture.”

Erin Colleen Johnson is currently a MFA candidate at University of California, Berkeley (UCB) with a Designated Emphasis in New Media. She holds a BA from Warren Wilson College in Community Organizing and Art. Johnson is a 2011 recipient of the Eisner Award for her work at UCB and recently completed a residency at Elsewhere Collaborative, a living museum in Greensboro, NC. Her research, as a UCB Arts Research Center Fellow, led to the development of Objects for Collective Engagement. The Objects, created in collaboration with Amanda Eicher, are tools for groups: to engage, to work, to play, to communicate, to not know, and to find out. They are modeled on methods of street organizing and direct action and are available for wide and unspecified use. erincolleenjohnson.com