Kinetic Sculptures and Artists Perform Together in Fort Point Theatre Channel’s Inter-Actions

Catch the interactive art installation at Outside the Box on July 16 and 17, and then at the Channel Center Garage on July 18 and 19.

fort point theatre channel inter-actions

The Channel Center Garage will serve as the venue for Fort Point Theatre Channel’s Inter-Actions | Photo provided

In Fort Point Theatre Channel’s latest performance art installation, a group of musicians, actors, poets, and other artists will collaborate with—and sometimes contend with—a group of kinetic sculptures.

The three sculptures, built by the company’s artistic co-director Rick Dorff, stand roughly nine feet tall and are covered with various fabrics. Built-in motion, light, touch, and sound sensors will activate interior lights and fans that will make the pieces “perform” by billowing and changing colors and light patterns.

“Essentially, these sculptures are performers in their own right,” says Dorff, a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design who works out of a studio in East Boston. “The pieces are programmed to have kind of random responses—non-predictable, non-patterned responses. They can’t be turned on or off or controlled by the performers.”

A group of artists, assembled through word of mouth and an open call for submissions, have signed on to create short works, each under ten minutes long, to be performed alongside the sculptures.

“There’s a really broad spectrum of ideas coming into this,” says Dorff.

One artist will coax the sculptures to react to the music he plays on a bass clarinet. Another will recite poetry while weaving around them on a bicycle. Other works feature dance, spoken word, short plays, experimental music, and a virtual social experiment dubbed “Catfishing,” in which the artist will “attempt to force the appreciation of public art on people who would prefer to have an extremely casual sexual encounter, hopefully answering the age-old question of whether an art experience is a good substitute for a sexual one.”

The installation will be staged on the first floor of the Channel Center Garage in Fort Point, which will be cleared of cars.

“The idea is that the pieces, the performers, and the audience are all kind of in the same space, and there’s an interaction on that level as well,” says Dorff.

Before the installation at the Channel Center Garage, a few works will also be previewed on the Boston Common as part of the Outside of the Box festival lineup.

“The Common presents different logistics because of sunlight. Interior lighting emanating from these pieces is a key thing, so it’s going to have a different effect on the Common than it does in the garage,” says Dorff. “It’s almost like two completely separate events in a way.”

All of the artists have seen scale models of the sculptures, but only some are choosing to see the final products before the installation, while others plan on improvising on the spot.

“Some people sort of ignore them, some people are using them in very specific ways. One way or another, you can ignore it, but it’s there responding to what you’re doing,” says Dorff. “The question is how they respond to the pieces and how the pieces respond to them—how everybody gets along, in a way.”

Free, Thursday and Friday, July 16-17, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Outside the Box on the Boston Common; Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19, 8-10 p.m. at Channel Center Garage. For more info, visit