CATALYSTS – Bodily Interfaces
Susan Kozel, Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir, Jeannette Ginslov, Keith Lim
23 August 2021 - 28 January 2022

Project dates: 23-27 August, 20-24 September, 25-29 October, 22-26 November 2021 & 24-28 January 2022.

A collaboration on the construction of a Mixed Reality Somatic Archive based on Guðjónsdóttir’s choreographic work. Funded by AUTONOM in Berlin, the work explores the use of Mixed Reality techniques with an added layer of Artificial Intelligence. Guðjónsdóttir has developed a genre of performative body language, and an original working method called “Full Drop into the Body” that allows the participants to enter visceral, emotional and psychological sub worlds and bring them to the surface.

The politics of intimacy is a core theme within her choreographies, working with the pathologies of socio-political bodies. We work against pervasive AI hype in the art world by exploring whether it is possible to use subtle and transformative AI techniques to enhance the somatic qualities of the work. The work will première in Berlin on 24 Feb 2022.

After working on a Mixed Media (AR/MR) – prototype titled Conspiracy Archives together with an interdisciplinary team of artists and researchers during the period 2017- 2018, Icelandic Berlin-based choreographer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir now wishes to work with the same team of collaborators for the immersive installation exhibition Bodily Interfaces. The team would continue to expand on their previous AR/MR prototype and this time put additional emphasis on investigating the capacity of AI within this context, with a focus on how AI can enhance empathic responses to Somatic presence.

The intention of the work Bodily Interfaces is for its viewers to be able to resonate somatically with the material of the exhibition. The journey of the broken body we propose to chart is from incapacity to somatic transformation, by means of this resonance. Bodily Interfaces will convey the somatic states researched by Guðjónsdóttir during the last 10 years.

Guðjónsdóttir has developed a genre of performative body language, and an original working method called “Full Drop into the Body” that directly informs her creative outcomes. It is a physical practice that allows the participants to enter visceral, emotional and psychological sub worlds and bring them to the surface. The politics of intimacy is a core theme within her choreographies, working with the pathologies of our social political bodies. Dramaturgically, physically and choreographically, Guðjónsdóttir composes performances as passive aggressive experiences. This passive-aggression vibrates at the core of difficult topics such as bodies that are stuck in the pathological states our contemporary society has contributed to / created. Being together in these states of incapacity to act, respond, move, feel or get out of these states taps into the commonality of these pathologies. Resonating with them together, through the dancers’ own resonance with selected pathologies they carry within their bodies, is to be in a meditative state of reciprocity with this reality. These embodied pathologies exist in the shadows of what is considered ‘normal’ life and in conceptual shadows. The work is a gesture to step into this space where it’s necessary to stay until a shift happens. The installation exhibition experience is a different sort of documentary with a different sense of fiction: it is documentation because the dancers’ bodies have spent many years doing the practice; it is fiction not that it is not real, but that it is hyper-real. The way the dancers vibrate differently is an invitation to a different body state that is a state of affective potential. Starting from the choreographic works, this installation exhibition proposes to expand backward and forward from the moment of theatrical performance. It moves backward to consider the composition processes that are informed by Guðjónsdóttir’s somatic practice. It moves forward towards a consideration of how the work ripples outwards to influence bodies that encounter her work. We then collapse the distinction between backward and forward by using AI and Mixed Reality techniques.


The outcome of this new installation will be a form of choreographed somatic experience for the audience where they feel the states of the dancers in their own bodies. The format we want to work with is for the audience to be invited at their arrival in the space to download an app specially developed for this event onto their mobile phone and immerse themselves in the installation experience through their device. We will have selected and printed images in different sizes from chosen performances by Gudjónsdóttir hung and choreographed into the exhibition space. The images trigger the app to play multi-layered videos that convey experiences that expand in time and space and evoke somatic states and an expanded field of experience for the audience.


The new and the expansion within the creation of this new work will be focused on the following questions; With directions based on the already sophisticated AR/MR work that has been developed; What are the ways that AI could be an additional tool to enhance empathic responses to Somatic presence and what are possible directions based from a grounded ethical set of practices? How is it possible to archive the liminal somatic states of the dancers without freezing them in time? Can their somatic states radiate through the flat glassy surfaces of the mobile phones and be taken away by visitors to the installation, in their bodies and memories?


All sound compositions for the works of Guðjónsdóttir´s in the last 10 years were created exclusively by the electronic musician and composer Peter Rehberg (PITA) and they will accommodate the footage used on the exhibition. The soundscape of this walk-in installation is thus generated by the audience using their smartphones while watching the exhibition. Different soundtracks get triggered through the mobile phones of the audience when walking through the room creating a soundscape choir which will serve as the sonic experience of the installation.


All members of the Bodily Interfaces team have many years of experience working within the professional field of dance and dance in relation to empathic practices, as well as from their specialized positions and disciplines.

Icelandic choreographer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir´s main theme has been a study on the social political body within our own body and how that reality is expressed and felt. The ‘Full Drop into the Body’ practice developed during this time questions older concepts of the professional body and focuses on researching and moving towards de-conditioning our formerly imprinted body memory as a political act and activism.

Since 2017 she has had an ongoing collaboration with philosophy Professor Susan Kozel at Malmö University in Sweden, who has published numerous articles and writings on Guðjónsdóttir´s work. Prof. Susan Kozel is known for artistic and philosophical work applying phenomenology to a range of choreographic, affective and somatic practices, with a particular emphasis on dance in networked digital systems. She directed the Living Archives research project where she refined a variation of phenomenological method and applied it to performances of encryption and somatic archiving. She now collaborates with Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir to deepen this work. During the last 25 years Susan Kozel experience within the professional field of art and academia expandes from being the Principal Researcher in Performance and Motion Capture, SMARTlab – Digital Media Institute of the University of East London, the Senior Project Researcher Intuition in Creative Processes: Examining Artistic Procedures and Decisions in Contemporary Dance and Digital Media Design, Media Lab, Department of Digital Media Design of the University of Art and Design in Helsinki and the Assistant Professor in Interactive Arts, Technical University of British Columbia, in Canada.

The hacker and computer programmer Keith Lim, who developed the app in collaboration with the team, will also take part in this new creation. Keith Lim is a specialist in interactive and immersive performative events and currently lectures at Roskilde University in Denmark at the Department of Humanities and Technology. Keith is the chairman of interactive arts platform Illation in Copenhagen. He has a BA in dance from the HZT in Berlin and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Technology.

The final collaborator, Jeannette Ginslov, specializes in screendance, and has a PhD in Creative Technologies at London South Bank University (2016-2020). Her research drew on Guðjónsdóttirs practice Full Drop into the Body and is titled Embodied Biometry: Tentacular wording of dance, biosensor technology and lived experience through relational biofeedback of the human and non-humankind. Jeannette holds a Master of science in screen dance from School of Media Arts and Imaging Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, Scotland. (A1) Distinction the concrete and the digital – emotional and kinaesthetic amplification of the authentic and digitalized body in screendance (2009).

Read more about the Conspiracy Archives here –

See Conspiracy Archives – at Close Encounters Copenhagen, 11 December 2020 on YouTube

Susan Kozel, Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir, Jeannette Ginslov, Keith Lim