The Collective
// Our Mission and Methods
 

About The Bears

Charged with the task of spiritually preparing the human race for the coming of the singularity, The Night Bears masquerade as a New York City based media and performance collective. The group investigates narrow sense-apertures to locate the spaces where the divide between biology and technology will eventually dissolve. The Bears tell stories with subtle light in darkness, small indications of depth in flatness, tiny sounds in silence, near-stillness in stillness. They tell timeless tales of sex and death, human-machine collaboration and conflict, and universal journeys of self-discovery and transcendence. The group’s founding members — John J.A. Jannone, Daniel Munkus, and Sophia Remolde — forge their work from the interplay of their seemingly polar and contradictory, and often extreme, physical and philosophical practices. They knit their work from Butoh, Suzuki, Zen Buddhism, martial arts, and contact improvisation; and weave in shiny threads of media, robotics, coding, music, and puppetry.

About the Coming Singularity

We work in the context of the coming Singularity. We belong to the last human generations that will live out the majority of their lives as fully biological beings. When computer intelligence overtakes human intelligence (as early as 2030 according to some scientists), the rate at which the total body of human knowledge multiplies will become literally unimaginable. The entire corpus of human thought might double in depth and complexity in moments, and then double again, and again. Within our lifetimes, our biological selves will be scanned into the machine and second, immortal phases of our lives will begin. We will live in total and inseparable collaboration with technology.

In our current pre-Singularity world, we see biology and technology, and therefore nature and technology, as distinct. This current relationship with technology-as-other is something to be cherished; and it is about to be lost. We experience mysterious feelings when interacting with technology: The pleasure of light playing on skin, the warmth of sound washing over us, the shudder and tightness in the chest we experience when communing with the machine. Technology is still a new lover – we are entranced by the mystery and otherness of it. All too soon we will be one with the machine. This is why we must collaborate with technology now, in our mutual naïveté: We touch it and it does not feel us; yet we can imagine that it feels us, and we are moved. Soon, what we touch, and the feeling we have of touching it, will also be it and us; the sense that technology is “other” will be the maya of the new age.


The Artists
// Sophie + Dan + John
 
John J.A. Jannone studies cooperation, coordination, and collaboration with a particular interest in collective art-making and live performance. He is an Associate Professor at Brooklyn College, and designed and directs the College’s M.F.A. program in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA). He teaches courses in music composition, collaboration, computer programming, performance, multi-camera television production, and television aesthetics. He is an avid musician, martial artist, and athlete, and has recently taken an interest in contact improvisation. He is the recipient of numerous grants, including National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation and CreativeIT grants. John’s Website. Photo: Christiane Bourget.
Daniel Munkus is a musician and interdisciplinary artist. He splits his time between songwriting and recording, composing electronic music, and working with various collaborative ensembles. Skills acquired during his years spent investigating Wing-Chun, Tai-Chi, Zen meditation, and the visual arts at UC Berkeley are frequently used in his ongoing collaborations. His own songwriting collaborative ensemble Old Robes is releasing a new album late August 2012, and can be found here: http://oldRobes.bandCamp.com/. Examples of his sound design are currently being used in improvisational workshops and experimental theater productions, and can be found here: http://danielmunkus.bandcamp.com/. Photo: Paulo Rojas.
Sophia Remolde is a multimedia creator and performer in theatre, film, dance, puppetry, and robotics. She is trained in Suzuki, Viewpoints, and Butoh, and works as an actor, puppeteer, and fight choreographer. She is Associate Director of Puppet Junction Productions, founder of art-science collective Hybrid Kaleidoscope, is member of the performance duo Darth&Lobster, and collaborates with Silent Infinite (a photography, video, and animation collective), The South Wing (an Suzuki-based experimental theater company), and SEE (the SITI Company’s Extended Ensemble). She is collaborating with PhD students in the field of robotics and computer vision at City College, CUNY on a large-scale dance work for humans and quadrotor flying robots. Sophie’s Website. Photo: Silent Infinite.

Current Work
// Clytemnestra 3.0
 

Night Bears Back to BK!

Come see The Night Bears any and every Wednesday night at Dassara Ramen! Even though these little bears have been spread out across the world, with Sophia Remolde in Tokyo, John J A Jannone in Osaka, and Daniel Munkus holding down the fort in Brooklyn, we have been together in spirit and image Wednesdays on Dassara's innovative, interactive, and ingenious video environment designed by the fabulous Ralph Jacobus of RAMENWERK. We will continue to exhibit our video art at Dassara as we all crawl back to home base. If you can't make it out to Brooklyn, here is a video we created about our videos at Dassara. (How very meta of us.) Incredible music by EMILY DANGER. Yowza. また、日本人のファンのため: (笑) どうもありがとうございます!

Performance in Greece

After 10 days of project development in the beautiful hills of Greece as part of the Koumaria residency, The Night Bears presented their latest work-in-progress, Clytemnestra 3.0, on the stage of the spectacular Onassis Cultural Center in Athens. In Clytemnestra 3.0, a sketch towards a full-length theater work, the Bears explore the reworking of ancient texts in modern multicultural contexts; performing a Bearish Korean/Japanese/Filipino/Singularitarian reworking of Charles Mee's reworking of an ancient Greek text, in modern Greece. Improvising intimately with their technologies, they relish the nostalgia for stereotypes of ancient cultures East and West, the ever-increasing nostalgia for the recent past, and the dawn of a pathological nostalgia for the present that heralds the coming of the Technological Singularity. Sophia Remolde performs the text, drawing upon techniques derived from intensive Suzuki and Butoh practices. Her physical motion is tracked by a Kinect, and her hands become Theremin tuned in a distinctive Greek scale. The pitches and intensity of the sounds derived from her gestures also drive the laser projections that illuminate her body. Daniel Munkus conducts the ISE ensemble and provides a soundscape created from recordings taken in the Greek countryside, modern Greek factories preparing products for export, and modern Greek pronunciations of the Greek names used in the ancient text. John Jannone performs the lighting with hand-held lasers, LEDs, and electroluminescent wire, and is responsible for the code that links the Kinect, sound synthesis, and lasers. Medea Electronique's ISE Ensemble performs with the trio, building a rich underscore of drones punctuated by bursts of noise colliding with the text.

Meat & Light: Inside & Out with the Night Bears

Article on Meat & Light, as first published on conectom by LEIMAY-CAVE on 9-24-2012

Link to original article

I sat in on the Night Bears' three day residence at the Red Room, part of Horse Trade Theater. Over this period, we discussed machines, bodies, and ate Indian food. In an attempt to document this process, Sophia and I decided to link photos and words in a heady format that can give you a feel for the moments and development of Meat and Light. Per Sophie's instructions, Meat is Physical, Light is Spiritual, Sophia is Emotional, and Raul is Intellectual. Photos taken by the Night Bears and Raul Zbengheci, words by Sophia Remolde and Raul Zbengheci.

"They must have brought me here when I was Meat."

Lightning Fire Whipping Presence Causing a Stir Never Once Moving

First of all wariness. Ever the skeptic in relation to the documentation of performances, I felt that this was a photograph of a photograph, not of the performance itself. Yet sometimes while traversing the mediums, it serves one well to release a bit of idealism, a bit of humanity evaporates in the best of circumstances, uploaded, chewed up, re invigorated.

"I am willing to let any alien being invade my body."

Reversing the Patterns What Can We Do To Prepare Our Selves Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually We Need to Devolve

And it really begs the question of action painting and traces. Considering the futuristic scope of the Night Bears, perhaps the mere traces of being are more important than their making. As if to say that the Night Bears are archeologists in the future looking back on 2012 with nostalgic eyes, scanning the remnants of distant times. Maybe this is performative archeology. And perhaps being lifted does not consist of a new ecstatic mental state, perhaps being lifted will take us to the cloud city, where all are immortal.

 "Making love to the Machine before its gone. Before we're gone. Before there's no distinction."

Connected Energies Despite the Turmoil We Come Together Open Experimentation Probing Her Worth The Scientist Enters My World

And this photo never took place. This is the first time that it has reached a pair of eyes. No one but the eyes of the camera lens caught that phallic exchange of lime-green energies. It is said that there are conceptual beings that can sense the fourth dimension the same way we can sense a piece of toast with butter on it. Everything at once, the train on every part of the track.  

 "KAPOW!"

A Burst A Flash And Only Darkness Excitement Abounds As We Build Our Empire

We discussed, at a certain point, the role of the Dan illuminating Sophia on the stage. Should this person merely flail a laser wire around her body or should his movements be more orchestrated, precise, and present. Ultimately, while discussing with John, another member of the Night Bears, we came to the conclusion that the technicians of the piece are also performers, that the line between tech person and performer should be removed and performative tech generated. And Charlie Chaplin warned about machine men with machine hearts. Yet, as we are nearing the ability to emulate consciousness, the role of the one who uploads us is still unclear and unexplored. Who will be the new machine men? Will they be underpaid, overworked staff who merely scan us and send us on our way or will they be men and women in white lab coats building virtual empires, masterminds building their cyber-utopias, providing escape and a new level of demented Social Darwinism?  

 "Instead of thinking of it capturing my image, letting it enter inside me, taking snapshots of my interior, projecting those images which my cells can then enter inside."

Classic Sci-Fi The Same Old Story Repeats Itself Anew Every Time Every Space Transformed

During the residency, John would refer to Sophia as meat. John, the ever masterful mind behind the lights and videos would place Sophia wherever was most convenient. Images such as the one above inspired the residency at the Red Room, trying to make the traces present, light waves instant, presence delegated. And what better gift to give than to provide a viewer with the vision of the conceptual fourth-dimension sensing beings? If the amalgamation of movement traces can be transcribed directly to a video wall, where will individual gestures remain, what of fluidity? what of physical presence?

 "I decided that the only way to go was willingly. So I let the Nanobots invade my Meat."

Cut Up Spaces Silence Snapshot Sound He Sees Her Through the Glass A Private View Giving Weight Waiting for Release Getting Carried Away

Against the manga themed backdrop, John and Sophia act out a transitional act, the detective and Meat facing off against their coming nanobots. Yet, Meat is already poised to become taken by her captors, ready for becoming a virtual being. Of all the great journeys, searching out the Vacation Beaches, finding Jacuzzi Wastelands, heading West, crossing Siberia, what greater, more exciting adventure than traversing circuits and nerve endings. To voyage through the conscience of your closest comrades, to empathize like you never have before.

 "But what they didn't know was that I had been preparing for this all along. I have been tenderizing my Meat, so to speak, marinating in light and releasing into the invasion.

So when the time came for me to get scanned into the system, I went in. But all they got was Meat."

Swirling Occupation of Physical Self They Take Her In Into the Light They Go Together Alone

Tenderizing wants to be the good word here, preparing for upload, stocking mental supplies, capturing the best image of self before going out on the Greatest Journey, into the abyss of digitized conscience, of ones and twos, forever leaving the body for those aforementioned demented utopias. Where will the ones left behind remain? Where are the subterranean slums, the counter tops with faces missing limbs?  

 "It started to spread itself all over my Meat. Penetrating every part of me. I could feel every movement, every breath of contact as if it were the only thing that existed. There was complete awareness and it overtook me in a wave of intense physical elevation."

Skinner Light Fingers The Engineer Knows the Code A Flash of Meat Constant Exposure Tenderizing Opening Meat Activation Video

The images projected in the residency lacked faces. Anticipation and presence were strong throughout. It is clear that this was not a problem of absence. Rather, it was a question of how the Night Bears' minds multiplied and bounced off of the walls in new, alien forms. A vortex of light has traces. Though the photo above leaves one to believe that all humanity is removed from Meat, I would go as far as saying that her humanity has merely shifted. The more relevant question is whether humanity is founded in our Meat bodies or our circuit minds? More interestingly, how will our essence be lifted into the cloud city, how will it be melded, how will we relate if bodies become a thing of the past?

"So I let it have my Meat. Finally and completely, I gave that part of me to the Machine. And it took me. We sent off swirling and screaming into the ether. We released our human-machine bodies into another plane of existence."

Whose Inside Sliding Slithering Indistinguishable A Proper Union Indecent Radical Unexpected How To Tell When There is No Difference

Really, the residency was about finding connections between traces of Meat's essence and its nontemporal representation on the manga screen. We have hints of her scattering hair and chin, sometimes the undulations of her face crossed over by rays of light. Real time transposition to a screen, necessary shift of conscience.

"Meat is made of cells, and cells are made of molecules, and molecules are Machines. So I let the Meat into the Meat and became Light."

Receding Away Parts of Me Illuminated By A Distant Biological World Droning On Into the Unknown Elation at Perfection In Ways We Do Not Yet Understand Perhaps We Never Will Perhaps it is Not for Us to Understand We Need to Keep Doing Keep Being Keep Meeting the Light

The eerie conclusion to the piece took the form of Meat's now empty body floating off the stage, a pale yellow backlight forming her silhouette. Becoming Light consists of sending off all essence into the cloud, into hard drives and optical drives, the body remaining just a roaming cadaver, made obsolete by new options in cyberspace. Is this just a new strain of Romanticism? How should one begin to work out and prepare for the coming Singularity? Will there be gyms? Is it the role of the artist to go on and make the first incisions concerning this new state of being? Probably as the planet is running out, we can continue this human condition in digital files and cloud computing. Probably we will expand and expand and expand the way we have been for centuries, though this time it will be virtual and not physical.

Previous Work
// Performance + Development
 

Night Bears Back to BK!

Come see The Night Bears any and every Wednesday night at Dassara Ramen! Even though these little bears have been spread out across the world, with Sophia Remolde in Tokyo, John J A Jannone in Osaka, and Daniel Munkus holding down the fort in Brooklyn, we have been together in spirit and image Wednesdays on Dassara's innovative, interactive, and ingenious video environment designed by the fabulous Ralph Jacobus of RAMENWERK. We will continue to exhibit our video art at Dassara as we all crawl back to home base. If you can't make it out to Brooklyn, here is a video we created about our videos at Dassara. (How very meta of us.) Incredible music by EMILY DANGER. Yowza. また、日本人のファンのため: (笑) どうもありがとうございます!

Performance in Greece

After 10 days of project development in the beautiful hills of Greece as part of the Koumaria residency, The Night Bears presented their latest work-in-progress, Clytemnestra 3.0, on the stage of the spectacular Onassis Cultural Center in Athens. In Clytemnestra 3.0, a sketch towards a full-length theater work, the Bears explore the reworking of ancient texts in modern multicultural contexts; performing a Bearish Korean/Japanese/Filipino/Singularitarian reworking of Charles Mee's reworking of an ancient Greek text, in modern Greece. Improvising intimately with their technologies, they relish the nostalgia for stereotypes of ancient cultures East and West, the ever-increasing nostalgia for the recent past, and the dawn of a pathological nostalgia for the present that heralds the coming of the Technological Singularity. Sophia Remolde performs the text, drawing upon techniques derived from intensive Suzuki and Butoh practices. Her physical motion is tracked by a Kinect, and her hands become Theremin tuned in a distinctive Greek scale. The pitches and intensity of the sounds derived from her gestures also drive the laser projections that illuminate her body. Daniel Munkus conducts the ISE ensemble and provides a soundscape created from recordings taken in the Greek countryside, modern Greek factories preparing products for export, and modern Greek pronunciations of the Greek names used in the ancient text. John Jannone performs the lighting with hand-held lasers, LEDs, and electroluminescent wire, and is responsible for the code that links the Kinect, sound synthesis, and lasers. Medea Electronique's ISE Ensemble performs with the trio, building a rich underscore of drones punctuated by bursts of noise colliding with the text.

Meat & Light: Inside & Out with the Night Bears

Article on Meat & Light, as first published on conectom by LEIMAY-CAVE on 9-24-2012

Link to original article

I sat in on the Night Bears' three day residence at the Red Room, part of Horse Trade Theater. Over this period, we discussed machines, bodies, and ate Indian food. In an attempt to document this process, Sophia and I decided to link photos and words in a heady format that can give you a feel for the moments and development of Meat and Light. Per Sophie's instructions, Meat is Physical, Light is Spiritual, Sophia is Emotional, and Raul is Intellectual. Photos taken by the Night Bears and Raul Zbengheci, words by Sophia Remolde and Raul Zbengheci.

"They must have brought me here when I was Meat."

Lightning Fire Whipping Presence Causing a Stir Never Once Moving

First of all wariness. Ever the skeptic in relation to the documentation of performances, I felt that this was a photograph of a photograph, not of the performance itself. Yet sometimes while traversing the mediums, it serves one well to release a bit of idealism, a bit of humanity evaporates in the best of circumstances, uploaded, chewed up, re invigorated.

"I am willing to let any alien being invade my body."

Reversing the Patterns What Can We Do To Prepare Our Selves Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually We Need to Devolve

And it really begs the question of action painting and traces. Considering the futuristic scope of the Night Bears, perhaps the mere traces of being are more important than their making. As if to say that the Night Bears are archeologists in the future looking back on 2012 with nostalgic eyes, scanning the remnants of distant times. Maybe this is performative archeology. And perhaps being lifted does not consist of a new ecstatic mental state, perhaps being lifted will take us to the cloud city, where all are immortal.

 "Making love to the Machine before its gone. Before we're gone. Before there's no distinction."

Connected Energies Despite the Turmoil We Come Together Open Experimentation Probing Her Worth The Scientist Enters My World

And this photo never took place. This is the first time that it has reached a pair of eyes. No one but the eyes of the camera lens caught that phallic exchange of lime-green energies. It is said that there are conceptual beings that can sense the fourth dimension the same way we can sense a piece of toast with butter on it. Everything at once, the train on every part of the track.  

 "KAPOW!"

A Burst A Flash And Only Darkness Excitement Abounds As We Build Our Empire

We discussed, at a certain point, the role of the Dan illuminating Sophia on the stage. Should this person merely flail a laser wire around her body or should his movements be more orchestrated, precise, and present. Ultimately, while discussing with John, another member of the Night Bears, we came to the conclusion that the technicians of the piece are also performers, that the line between tech person and performer should be removed and performative tech generated. And Charlie Chaplin warned about machine men with machine hearts. Yet, as we are nearing the ability to emulate consciousness, the role of the one who uploads us is still unclear and unexplored. Who will be the new machine men? Will they be underpaid, overworked staff who merely scan us and send us on our way or will they be men and women in white lab coats building virtual empires, masterminds building their cyber-utopias, providing escape and a new level of demented Social Darwinism?  

 "Instead of thinking of it capturing my image, letting it enter inside me, taking snapshots of my interior, projecting those images which my cells can then enter inside."

Classic Sci-Fi The Same Old Story Repeats Itself Anew Every Time Every Space Transformed

During the residency, John would refer to Sophia as meat. John, the ever masterful mind behind the lights and videos would place Sophia wherever was most convenient. Images such as the one above inspired the residency at the Red Room, trying to make the traces present, light waves instant, presence delegated. And what better gift to give than to provide a viewer with the vision of the conceptual fourth-dimension sensing beings? If the amalgamation of movement traces can be transcribed directly to a video wall, where will individual gestures remain, what of fluidity? what of physical presence?

 "I decided that the only way to go was willingly. So I let the Nanobots invade my Meat."

Cut Up Spaces Silence Snapshot Sound He Sees Her Through the Glass A Private View Giving Weight Waiting for Release Getting Carried Away

Against the manga themed backdrop, John and Sophia act out a transitional act, the detective and Meat facing off against their coming nanobots. Yet, Meat is already poised to become taken by her captors, ready for becoming a virtual being. Of all the great journeys, searching out the Vacation Beaches, finding Jacuzzi Wastelands, heading West, crossing Siberia, what greater, more exciting adventure than traversing circuits and nerve endings. To voyage through the conscience of your closest comrades, to empathize like you never have before.

 "But what they didn't know was that I had been preparing for this all along. I have been tenderizing my Meat, so to speak, marinating in light and releasing into the invasion.

So when the time came for me to get scanned into the system, I went in. But all they got was Meat."

Swirling Occupation of Physical Self They Take Her In Into the Light They Go Together Alone

Tenderizing wants to be the good word here, preparing for upload, stocking mental supplies, capturing the best image of self before going out on the Greatest Journey, into the abyss of digitized conscience, of ones and twos, forever leaving the body for those aforementioned demented utopias. Where will the ones left behind remain? Where are the subterranean slums, the counter tops with faces missing limbs?  

 "It started to spread itself all over my Meat. Penetrating every part of me. I could feel every movement, every breath of contact as if it were the only thing that existed. There was complete awareness and it overtook me in a wave of intense physical elevation."

Skinner Light Fingers The Engineer Knows the Code A Flash of Meat Constant Exposure Tenderizing Opening Meat Activation Video

The images projected in the residency lacked faces. Anticipation and presence were strong throughout. It is clear that this was not a problem of absence. Rather, it was a question of how the Night Bears' minds multiplied and bounced off of the walls in new, alien forms. A vortex of light has traces. Though the photo above leaves one to believe that all humanity is removed from Meat, I would go as far as saying that her humanity has merely shifted. The more relevant question is whether humanity is founded in our Meat bodies or our circuit minds? More interestingly, how will our essence be lifted into the cloud city, how will it be melded, how will we relate if bodies become a thing of the past?

"So I let it have my Meat. Finally and completely, I gave that part of me to the Machine. And it took me. We sent off swirling and screaming into the ether. We released our human-machine bodies into another plane of existence."

Whose Inside Sliding Slithering Indistinguishable A Proper Union Indecent Radical Unexpected How To Tell When There is No Difference

Really, the residency was about finding connections between traces of Meat's essence and its nontemporal representation on the manga screen. We have hints of her scattering hair and chin, sometimes the undulations of her face crossed over by rays of light. Real time transposition to a screen, necessary shift of conscience.

"Meat is made of cells, and cells are made of molecules, and molecules are Machines. So I let the Meat into the Meat and became Light."

Receding Away Parts of Me Illuminated By A Distant Biological World Droning On Into the Unknown Elation at Perfection In Ways We Do Not Yet Understand Perhaps We Never Will Perhaps it is Not for Us to Understand We Need to Keep Doing Keep Being Keep Meeting the Light

The eerie conclusion to the piece took the form of Meat's now empty body floating off the stage, a pale yellow backlight forming her silhouette. Becoming Light consists of sending off all essence into the cloud, into hard drives and optical drives, the body remaining just a roaming cadaver, made obsolete by new options in cyberspace. Is this just a new strain of Romanticism? How should one begin to work out and prepare for the coming Singularity? Will there be gyms? Is it the role of the artist to go on and make the first incisions concerning this new state of being? Probably as the planet is running out, we can continue this human condition in digital files and cloud computing. Probably we will expand and expand and expand the way we have been for centuries, though this time it will be virtual and not physical.

Blog
// bearBlog.