Review: Dutch 'Diespace' does death digitally

| Friday, March 23, 2012

Somewhere beyond the boundaries of traditional theater but just this side of the intersection of performance art and interactive installations, you'll find a band of artistic pioneers who go by the name PIPS:lab.

Alternately, you can simply drop by the Trust Arts Education Center, Downtown, where you'll find this collective of Dutch artists performing "Diespace" through today as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Distinctively Dutch Festival.

It's performed in a fourth-floor room with a chip-board floor, a few black curtains and an amazing assortment of computer, video and audio equipment, manipulated by techno-savvy artists with a playful sense of humor and a talent for creating audience interaction that doesn't make you want to hide when they move toward you.

The "Diespace" audience takes the role of invitees to a sales pitch for an interactive social network not unlike Facebook or MySpace.

Recognizing the commercial potential of the growing population of people 65 and older, Diespace is an electronic device that will upload your soul so that you can continue communicating from the afterlife.

You'll want to arrive early for the pre-show in the lobby that includes video and sound recordings of attendees that are later incorporated into the show. Once in the performance space, audience members are given tiny flashlights and led through a series of maneuvers that result in some impressive, innovative graphic displays.

Keez Duijves, Yorrick Heerkens, Daan van West and Sebastiaan Kox generate the live music and manipulate the computers, cameras and created-on-the-spot visuals that are the best part of the evening.

They also perform as senior citizens and otherwise assist the fifth ensemble member Thijs de Wit, who pitches Diespace while rolling around the room in a wheelchair.

As with any good sales event, some audience members win prizes such as a "Euthanize Me Now!" bracelet, and performers provide interludes of entertainment such as breakdance knitting, aimed at the geriatric target audience for a Diespace account.

The show runs about an hour, which is about as long as you can endure the aluminum bleacher seating made only slightly less uncomfortable by seat pads provided by the Trust.

Yes, there is some serious purpose. It does get you thinking about how you might spend the afterlife, as well as how you may be frittering away the present one.

But most importantly, it's fun.

Additional Information:

PIPS:lab 'Diespace'

Presented by: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust  Distinctively Dutch FestivalWhen:  8 p.m. nightly through SaturdayAdmission:  $30Where:  Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center805 Liberty Ave., DowntownDetails: 412-456-6666 or

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