I was introduced to Smac McCreanor’s videos randomly, as I was scrolling aimlessly while on hold for a telephone appointment. It was an instant, pleasant distraction, a genuinely funny if not awkward study on the human form and its disfigurement. McCreanor is an Australian performer, comedian, actress and content creator – the last, I believe, exemplifies her unique signature style on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Her Hydraulic Press videodance series is inspired by the sort of weird video-fix one finds online, a mise-en-abyme that swallows you into the abyss of digital paraphernalia. The videos are presented in split-screen, one side showing a hydraulic press crushing various objects (there’s even a YouTube channel for the freaks of this kind), the other with McCreanor performing a parallel outburst of sudden, irrational and uncontrolled movements, or what I call ‘splatter dance’.
But how does the breaking point become material for dance movement? Applying it, metaphorically, to the human body means trying to replicate the distorted forms of the crushed objects, creating an embodied ‘equivalent’ to the image and plasticity of materials. This revisioning of human physicality and bodily creativity isn’t a fetishist celebration of a body imploding under the pressure of the machine – a tangible fear so often connected with modernity and industrialisation. Instead of a battle between man and machine, this is rather a queer study on human shape and unity, how it can be estranged and reconfigured, playfully manipulated and comically re-examined. Whether introducing a toilet brush, a pile of cream-stuffed chocolates, a grinder or a lemon, a unicorn ornament, a frame, a handful of crisps, a bicycle wheel or other objets trouvés placed and crushed under the hydraulic press, her movement material becomes a study of pataphysics – the term Alfred Jarry invented to play with conventional concepts and the megalomaniac ambition of science to interpret reality.