Spindle – Oona Libens

An omniscient Spider and an emerging Artificial Intelligence are tied together in a dialogue surrounding the human history of weaving and information technology.

Doors 18.30/ On stage 19:00
70 min

More and more we project our hopes, fears, desires and trust in the future onto the digital sphere. Each aspect of our lives is being transferred into data. But what does this ocean of information mean to us when the technology that generates it becomes ever more incomprehensible and complex — or when it is in the hands of a few so-called tech-geniuses?

With Spindle Oona Libens calls for a new narrative about our digital (future) – one that is in symbiosis with nature and humanity.

The starting point for Spindle is the link between two seemingly disparate domains: digital technology and weaving. This link is found in the punched card, an invention that made industrial weaving in the 1800s more efficient and complex. The punched card later formed the inspiration for the first programmable computer — designed partly by the mathematician Ada Lovelace, being the first female computer programmer. So weaving can be considered the earliest binary technology. As a thread goes either up or down, it carries zero’s and one’s just as the digital language.

In Spindle the archetypal weaver — a Spider — converses with an Artificial Intelligence. They speak about the history and future of technology, about the importance of mystery versus information, about the lost traces of textile history — and with that of women’s work… And all the while the Spider weaves her web and the AI tries to imitate and intimidate.

All this is visualised in an intricate universe made up of a giant loom — or is it a primitive computer? — threads, knots, spools and other contraptions reminiscent of the textile field. As in earlier work Oona Libens uses several kinds of projection techniques, shadows and light effects to create an ephemeral yet tactile, audiovisual experience – as fleeting as the data flows around us.

Concept & text: Oona Libens
Performance: Amanda Lebert, Oona Libens
Technique: Amanda Lebert
Sound: Vica Pacheco, Jürgen De Blonde
Dramaturgy: Renée Goethijn
Text advice: Francis Brady
Technical advice: Jakob Jennerholm Hammar, Marcel Samyn
Thanks to: Inter Arts Centre Malmö, Christina Amelia Candea, Meri Ekola
Production: Kunstenwerkplaats – KWP Brussels
Co-producers: Inkonst, Vooruit Ghent & STUK Leuven (Belgium)
With the kind support from: Konstnärsnämnden (Swedish Arts Grants Committee), Helge Axelsson Johnsons Stiftelse, Region Skåne, Flemish Community Council

The work of Oona Libens (Belgium/Sweden) revolves around media-archeology and the history of the (moving) image. Light and shadow is her medium whether it is used in performative work or in two or three dimensional objects. In her intimate performances Oona Libens develops a distinctly crafted universe, while creating a dialogue between historic and recent media phenomena — from shadow theatre as the most primitive form of moving image, over the magic lantern, the computer or TV-screen, to today’s expressions in the digital realm. In her performances she tries to expand our experience of the image and the screen, to create an analogue virtual reality and to make an entertainment machine that is slow, hesitates, falters and fails.

Oona Libens first studied music in Sweden before graduating from the School of Arts (KASK) in Ghent in 2012. Since then she has made a series of poetic-scientific performances about the universe, the sea, time and the body. Her latest performance Soma was shown at Inkonst in 2019.