noun: qualia; plural noun: qualia

  1. a quality or property as perceived or experienced by a person.

Our senses are deceptive in nature. There is often a distinct dissonance between what we assume to be experiencing and we are actually experiencing – each of our five senses can be influenced by the others, altering what we perceive. In her new work entitled Qualia as part of the inaugural Platform Festival, dancer and performance artist Caitlin Dear is addressing the deceptive nature of perception in a hyper-realistic sense.

Qualia falls somewhere in the realm of interactive theatre, dance, and performance art. Featuring some of Victoria’s most promising and accomplished young artists, the work invites audiences to be blindfolded in order to experience a multi-sensory journey, in which they are exposed to various scents, sounds, and tastes each of which will evoke a different experience. This element of Qualia will be interspersed with contemporary dance and sound design by Bensen Thomas. Thomas is better known under his musical moniker Ludodowwn, under which he has recently released his debut EP Mirror/Bleach. For Qualia, Thomas has created an immersive, shifting electronic soundscape to compliment the sensory nature of the performance.

The core idea behind the development of Qualia stems from Caitlin’s research into perceptive science and the associated schools of philosophical thought. Through this lens, she intends to pose a reflection on our individual relationships to the external world. Caitlin Dear has coreographed, performed and presented work for Melbourne Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival, MPavillion, Arts House, Dancehouse and Lucy Guerin Inc.

Caitlin tells us that “it is one thing to read about the senses, but if you can understand them through your body, that is much more powerful.” In relation to her initial intention and conception of the work, she explains that she “created Qualia to share my research of how sensory perceptions shift over time, and what causes them to do so.  Understanding that our perceptions are not objective reality fosters a need to think critically about how we engage with society and the world.”

Qualia features performers Benjamin Hurley, Jessica Matheson and Emma Riches in collaboration with Thomas Schmocker.


Watch Qualia Below:

Originally published May 2017