In All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, Ezra Veldhuis and Bosse Provoost treat the theme of freedom and unfreedom in relation to technology, by staging Richard Brautigan’s 1967 poem of the same name.
Brautigan’s poem portrays a cybernetic Garden of Eden, an idyll in which machines will free us from work. In 2022, we may read this poem very differently than Brautigan intended at the time. When we think of technology in relation to freedom, Big Tech and surveillance technology dominate our imagination. We seem to be at the service of technology, instead of technology providing us with essential freedom. Does this mean Brautigan’s dream is dead? Are we already living in a totally perverted realization of it? Or does the freedom promised in his dream still contain potential? This is what Ezra Veldhuis and Bosse Provoost will explore in their new creation, by staging a “biotechnical environment”: a constellation of people (three human performers and the audience), materials and devices in a climate of light and sound. Within that environment, accompanied by an eclectic musical palette, they depict interdependent relationships, both symbiotic and conflictual, between human and non-human actors.