We met MarkBs friend and we proceeded to sit down and chat. The panel that night after the play was going to be on the relationship between science and art and where things converge. Mark is uniquely suited to the panel I think since everything they do at the HITlab is designed to integrate humans with technology. Things need to be elegant and intuitive and yes, artistic for them to be functional. There are some projects he works on that I have to roll my eyes a little bit... "Smart name tags at conferences." Sure...I think I'd rather just scribble my name on a sticker, thanks but I am certain out of a LOT of the "useless technology" that gets nattered on about there some artist/designer/innovator will look at it and say, "I can use THAT!" and suddenly we'll wonder how we did without it.
The play was fascinating to watch. It really helped reading it the night before and it was fascinating seeing how they wound up blocking certain aspects and how technology worked for other aspects. There was some fascinating projector work going on which could easily have gone into "gimmicky" territory but for the most part was rather restrained.
"Bullers Birds: Survival of the Fittest" takes place on a fictional night in the 1860s where Buller, a famous ornithologist meets his friend Major Kempe who, in order to pay Buller for his legal fees, is giving him title to a lake on Maori land.
While waiting for Kempe Buller shoots and starts to stuff a Huia. A New Zealand bird already in serious decline Buller feels it is his duty to stuff as many as possible so every museum will have one.
The Huia was sacred to the Maori and upon discovering the body Kempe is not happy. The rest of the play revolves around a discussion about the Huia and Maori and indigenous creatures vs invaders (Brits vs Maori, get it?) and Darwin's `beautiful law' survival of the fittest.
The last Huia sighted was in 1907.
The discussion after the play was pretty good though it got a bit dry at points. (Sorry Mark...it DID.) I did get to chat to the actor who played Buller who was an extremely likable guy and I couldn't believe how chatty he was. He chatted about workshopping the play and how generous everyone was with the back and forth, give and take nature of the play.
The other actor was also a most likable guy. I thought about mentioning, "Oh dude, I loved you in that Xena episode" but I thought that was a bit too nerdy. I did tell him how struck I was with his performance in the play as well as the fine line he walked in Whale Rider between being a sympathetic character and a total jerk.
After the play Mark B and I went back to the hotel where he hooked up Battlestar Galactica to find out what happened after Admiral Cain and Commander Adama launched Vipers at each other and since it was 10:30 I promptly fell asleep. THUUUNNK.
All in all...a very, very good day.