The room was dimly lit. Men in suits circled around us, quietly greeting the 20 or so visitors patiently sitting in chairs. Wine was served, and we were repeatedly told, in hushed tones, to relax. A television screen flashed in front of us and a phrase kept repeating itself: “Energy. Impact. Change.” A man with a camera conspicuously hid in the corner, snapping pictures. “Nice group of people,” a man behind me whispered. I was taking notes, and I’m pretty sure the man was trying to peer over my shoulder to see what I was writing. When I noticed, he quickly turned away.
What had I gotten myself into?
Even though the event was advertised as a performance, and I was aware that actors surrounded me, paranoia still crept in. “The Lost Children,” a transmedia project by Mark Harris held Tuesday evening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, puts the audience through a series of exercises stemming from a fake group called URLIFE (Universal Radical Life Improvement for Everyone), a fictional self-help organization that promises to aid “travelers and seekers” in finding their “true potential.” URLIFE’s doctrine is an amalgamation of ideas ranging from L. Ron Hubbard to Carl Sagan, combining psychotherapy with crackpot space theories. The idea of the performance was to break the audience down and push the limits of what was real and what was fantasy – the more time you spent in a small room with the group, the more you agreed to participate in their exercises, the more that line became blurred. READ MORE