Swimming Home: An immersive online experience
Written and created by Silvia Mercuriali, Swimming Home is an immersive experience that allows participants the opportunity to practise mindfulness through Autoteatro, a technique where individuals both experience and contribute to the production through a headset.
The artist narrates instructions, once metaphorically released from the taps. The viewer stands in their bathroom, headphones on, with swimsuit, goggles and a towel. Various voices intertwine, echoing personal accounts and approaches to swimming: some feel weightless, appreciating the buoyancy as they drift, others use it to exercise and unwind. When Mercuriali asks for her audience to recall the last moment they swam, there is a swift realisation that it has been quite some time, due to the lockdown restrictions. Swimming Home participants not only have a more mindful bath that blends the passage between fantasy and reality, but also a chance to bathe safely while imagining being in a pool. Listeners are told to breathe on the bathroom mirror and write “home” on the condensation – a small act, but one that feels relaxing, connecting the experience to the present.
As part of their research, Mercuriali’s team looked at How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea by Tristan Gooley. During the production, aspects are gradually revealed, from how webbed sections between the thumb and index finger aid better swimming to the fact that baths on average contain 60 litres, while the Earth is made up of 326 million trillion gallons. Leonardo Da Vinci rightly stated: “Water is the driving force of all nature.”
Surprisingly, it is a while before anyone actually dips a toe into the bath, which beckons enticingly. Mercuriali’s calming voice is perfect for this immersive show, but there are elements that prevent it from being a more powerful experience. For one thing, it is difficult to avoid headphones becoming wet, which is a source of slight agitation. There is also a section with a sea captain that is a little arbitrary and breaks the flow of the piece. On the whole though, this is a soothing and intimate experience, and a sonic escape from the confines of home.
Swimming Home is at available to experience via the Mercurious NET app from 15th December 2020. For further information or to book visit Silvia Mercuriali’s website here.