Queen Latifah’s performance as Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid Live!’, utilizes automation to create a hybrid human-machine experience involving the automation in the tentacles and the potion special effects.
In this performance, the machine is part of the performer as it automates the tentacles and the potion effects that give the performer an intimidating feel, which is not immediately apparent and rather is felt subconsciously by the audience. This is fitting and builds on the audience’s judgement that this performer is a villain in the performance. While it is evident that the tentacles are controlled via automation, it gives the impression that it is one with the performer and that the performer is controlling her tentacles. After shedding them, Latifah then goes back and interacts with the tentacles again when she taunts Ariel about taking the potion to make her human. This shows both automated and human control of this ‘robot’. The way that special effects are used is also really cool because it creates the illusion that the performer is doing magic, when in reality it is all automated for the performance.
I think the idea of creating clothing as a hybrid kinetic sculpture is really interesting and could be used to make a really cool performance. It is similar to the body suit we saw in class that is made for lifting heavy objects. A clothing augment could make for a really compelling performance as it allows the performer to convey non-human characteristics.