When on the march towards food, ‘mischievous’ ants move away from their fellow ants to find alternative pathways in case the main route becomes blocked. These alternatives may prove to be the future direction for the colony if the straight path fails.
The Deviants started out in life as Mischievous Ants. A collaboration between Critical Stage, Queens University and Rhode island School of Design, began in a pub in Rhode Island, early 2006, with the idea of artistically portraying the complicated relations which exist between humans and machines, somehow to be combined with an interest in biomimicry and a story about ants. Bill Seaman from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), an expert in the design of humanistic robots and Director of the Digital Media Arts programme, was crazy enough to say yes when I called him up the next day to say I was serious. Since then a group of inspired Engineering and Drama students and postdocs from Queens have been working on scripts of plays.
A road trip to RISD in Providence levitated the collaboration and the generation of our two art pieces. The Deviant theme emerged and became the central pivot. From nine disparate scripts we eventually came up with a very interesting story about corporate control, following the lives of a cast of odd, entangled characters. The story seemed to hover gently overtop the seriously strange ‘Sitch’, in which we see a rather bleak future void of personal choice. The events leading up to this flat world and the after-effects of too much creativity in the hands of the dysfunctional, will prove a sobering adventure. I, for one, am left with a burning question: Who is the deviant – the controlled or the controller?
The Deviants was performed at the Integrated Learning Centre, Queens University, Kingston, Canada March 2007