Literary and mythological connections
The inspiration for Daedalus Drones can be found in myths and literature. Ueno says his favourite author is Irish novelist and poet James Joyce, who created a literary alter ego with Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist of his autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Joyce named the character after Daedalus, a figure in Greek mythology known as an architect and inventor as well as a symbol of wisdom, knowledge and power.
Daedalus was said to have built a labyrinth for King Minos of Crete to trap the mythical Minotaur, only to find himself imprisoned in his own creation. In order to escape, he created wings of wax and feathers for himself and his son, Icarus, with a warning to avoid flying too close to the sun. But Icarus ignored his father’s advice, and fell to his death when his wings melted.
This story is told in The Metamorphoses, a narrative piece written in Latin by the Roman poet Ovid that dates back to AD8. Joyce quoted the poem in the epigraph for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, with a line that reads: “Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes”.
“It roughly translates to: ‘And then [Daedalus] turned his mind to unknown arts’,” Ueno explains. “I think that’s why James Joyce used that epigraph, because it’s symbolically the inspiration, the moment that sparked the invented flight to transcend our terrestrial boundaries. It speaks to all moments of inspiration in the human act of creativity.”
Inside the maze created for Daedalus Drones, Ueno has chosen to project his voice through a megaphone so that he can navigate around the audience and make them experience “moving sounds”, reinforcing the main premise of the show.
Tsang explains that each of the nine performance sessions, which are spread out over two weekends, differ from the others because of the many moving parts within the installation, as well as the changes in natural ambient light occurring over the scheduled days.