Kjell Theøry – ATOM-r

Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r) & Chisenhale Dance Space present:

Kjell Theøry

12 January 2018, 7:30pm
£15 General Admission

Kjell Theøry is an augmented reality performance by the art and technology collective Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r).

The work juxtaposes Alan Turing’s mathematical descriptions of nature with algorithmic mutations of Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1917 play The Breasts of Tiresiasa genderfluid spectacle for which the author invented the word “surrealism.”

In Apollinaire’s play, a woman transforms into the male prophet Tiresias while her husband gives birth to 40,049 babies. Apollinaire’s vision of male reproduction manifests in the prologue as a war-time hallucination in which the eyes of newborns form constellations in the night sky. In the two years before his apparent suicide, British computing pioneer, Alan Turing, visited Scandinavia, seeking tolerance after being convicted of homosexual acts and sentenced to chemical castration. The forced estrogen treatments he received caused him to develop small breasts. At the time, he was formulating a theory of morphogenesis to account for patterns found in flowers, embryos, and other natural forms. He named his theory for a male Norwegian love interest, Kjell.

ATOM-r layers these and other sources and influences into a poetic choreography that is situated, like the mythological Tiresias, between worlds and genders, using augmented reality to portray a visionary blindness. The performances evolve through adaptation to specific sites and invitations. They present diverse iterations that are not in-progress showings, but unique and cohesive pieces tailored to a certain context. In response to the male birthing scene in Apollinaire’s play, ATOM-r researched neo-pagan fertility rituals. They adopted and inverted elements from the ‘Obby ‘Oss festival, a Cornish May Day parade that stages the birth and death of a horse who symbolically impregnates female participants by trapping them under his skirt.

85 min runtime

Kjell Theøry was developed through residencies at International Museum Surgical Science, The Graham Foundation for the Applied Arts, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dance Department, University of Chichester, TeaK, Helsinki.

This project was supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.


Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery formerly of Goat Island Performance Group co – founded Chicago based ATOM-r (Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality) in 2012. ATOM-r is a provisional collective exploring forensics, anatomy, and 21st century embodiment through performance, language, and emerging technologies. The work is interdisciplinary and evolves through large-scale projects with long durations of research and practice that generate outputs across a range of platforms including Internet art, augmented reality, site specific installation, choreographed movement, books, films and objects. ATOM-r was conceived in response to the historical architecture of early modern anatomical theaters, spaces designed for viewing human dissections and early surgical procedures. This physical and conceptual arrangement is used as a symbol throughout their work to explore histories and experiences of the body, sexuality, and prosthesis. ATOM-r core members: Mark Jeffery (choreography), Judd Morrissey (text and technology), Justin Deschamps, and Christopher Knowlton / Colin Roberson (collaborators/performers).

Photo Credit: Grace Duval