Resurrection (TOTB) is the second iteration of Libby’s Top of the Bots: Karaoke Night participatory performance (Arts Council England funded). During the evening, audience members volunteer to sing and appear and move as the original musician on a screen via live AI algorithms. In between songs, the host Sammy James Britten playfully discusses ideas around power, desire, control and truth with the audience.
Resurrection was presented at September’s Tate Late, Tate Exchange, 2019 and was due to be shown as a solo event at BOM, Birmingham before Covid.
The work asks what it means to resurrect icons of western music and questions notions of truth and labour. Is technology the new religion? What does it mean to use artificial means to bring someone back form the dead? Is death just simply another marketing consideration? If any one can perform and on screen look and sound exactly like a famous person, what value does that leave for the famous person? In this performance, four celebrities were brought back: Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie and Elvis Presley. Depending on how the participant moves in front of the camera, various effigies of these icons would lip sync back with them, emerging and decaying in a painterly fashion. A live portrait of collective memory. Resurrection uses the power of group singing in karaoke, imperfections in voice and individual vulnerability are sites to explore cross-class contact and alternative expressions of collective identity.
Top of the Bots is hosted by performer Sammy James Britten. Throughout the show he playfully interrogates audience members about these themes and creates a sense of responsibility and belonging among singer-volunteers and the crowd.