Review by Kate Gaul
Welcome to the (near) future. Enter a world where romance has been “solved” by algorithms and Artificial Intelligence is commonplace. Five overlapping narratives, from space miners to tech moguls, weave together into a show that explores relationships: with technology, with creativity, and with us. Don’t forget capitalist doom and the threat of an artificial future. This is storytelling theatre that’s equal parts funny and moving, featuring a unique performance generated by AI. “Distant Memories of the Near Future” is created and performed by David Head. AI is a buzzword and no doubt we will hear and see much about its use from now on. This is sophisticated story telling with some video projection, and object elements.
David Head has imagined a possible future where love has been solved by an algorithm, mandatory adverts are broadcast to citizens, and we harvest soaring asteroids for their minerals and diamonds. So, this is all largely imagined but David Head is so captivating it feels 100% truthful in the sense that this is our world. And let’s face it dating sites do rely on some kind of algorithmic equations to match people. Don’t they?
Witty, satirical adverts spoken from disembodied voices pop up in front of us on a screen. One is for Q-PID, the data-driven dating service that scans brains and studies saliva to find compatible people around the globe or - if you are unlucky - mark you as undesirable. We hear how the service came about and the ripples it generated within society. It’s actually quite hilarious and it’s cute that we get time to pause and think about a lonely guy checking into this service and the commodification of his romance. IRL this can have tragic consequences. Can we ever solve the question of love? How do you find love if you are undesirable?
This is witty, rigorous work. For all its invention this is a very subtle and tender piece of theatre. David Head is a superb storyteller, with a handsome dose of satire on how large tech companies already mine our data to work out how to sell to us – and the multi uses of advertising!!! Head uses advertising as a story thread and a provocation to our focus… there is so much advertising in our world. Why are we looking at it when we know its nefarious?!
The diamond miner in space is a sad story. A static three-dimensional figure under torchlight can manifest deep emotions in an audience who has been gently reminded that human relationships really drive us and matter to us. It’s also powerful to be reminded of the human scale of genuine connection – and “Distant Memories of the Near Future” does that in form and content beautifully,