“Tele-Encounters: Beyond the Human” builds on the research conducted in “Tele-Encounters”, the first Creative Europe project successfully led by Teatrul “George Ciprian” (RO) in the period 2017-2019. Partners in the project were UCAM Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia (ES) and Município de Lousada (PT).
“Tele-Encounters” was an artistic and sociological research project exploring telepresence (technologically mediated presence) and family relationships in the context of migration with particular emphasis on the parent-child connection.
Based on interviews with Romanian migrants in Spain and left-behind families in Romania, we developed “The Planet of Lost Dreams”, a telematic theatre performance about a Romanian family separated by migration. Carmen has gone to work in Spain, while her husband and their little daughter have stayed behind in Romania. The play follows their lives throughout eleven years until the daughter turns eighteen. The performance took place simultaneously in Romania and Spain, with physically present audiences in both countries. By “telematic performance”, we mean that the actors in the two remote studios interacted in real-time using video-conferencing and Kinect-controlled animations. At the end of the performance, we facilitated an open dialogue between the audiences in Spain and Romania on the subjects of migration and the creative process behind “The Planet of Lost Dreams”. The press night was live-streamed on YouTube, which enabled us to reach a geographically dispersed audience beyond the cities of Buzău and Murcia and also a post-event audience, the video still being available to watch online.
360˚ Short Films
Inspired by interviews with left-behind families of Portuguese migrants, we commissioned five 360˚ short films to be viewed on VR headsets in each country as part of the “Ellipses” VR exhibition. The films present different life situations related to migration in a straightforward and realistic manner, with as little effects as possible. Some audience members noted the similarities between the Romanian and Portuguese stories of migration which enabled them to identify with the characters irrespective of their nationality.
Workshops & Conferences
“Tele-Encounters” also had a strong educational component. In the period March-May 2019, we organised a series of workshops and lectures in the academic environment in Romania, Spain, and Portugal. The telematic theatre workshops connected online students from top universities in Romania, Spain, and Portugal (The National University of Theatre and Film “I.L.Caragiale” Bucharest – UNATC, UCAM Spain, UTAD – Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Portugal and The National University of Arts “George Enescu” Iași – UNAGE).
Coordinated by the project artists, the students experienced acting together from a distance via the Internet using source material from “The Planet of Lost Dreams” theatre play. Intercultural exchange was implicit, not least because the students acted both in English and in their mother tongue, often trying to grasp what the other group were saying in their native language.
The 360˚ film workshops and lectures conducted by the Portuguese film artists focused on the technical and conceptual tools necessary for creating immersive video and provided a useful introduction to students from film and multimedia courses in our countries.
At the end of the project, we organised the “Telepresence and Migration” International Symposium at the CINETic arts and technology research centre of The National University of Theatre and Film “I.L.Caragiale” Bucharest. During the event, we presented the results of the project concerning the artistic and sociological implications of telepresence and migration. Apart from the project team, we also invited presentations from guest professors, practitioners, and Ph.D. students in the field of digital performance from Romania and the UK.
During the symposium, we launched the “Tele-Encounters: Telepresence and Migration” research volume which contains the sociological and artistic studies conducted in the project based on audience questionnaires and interviews with migrants and left-behind families.