Ever since the dadaists first mocked the mechanical rationality of industrialized man, performance art has provided a critique of technological society. No other performance group in Chicago, however, has immersed itself in technology as consciously and completely as the Loofah Method. This three-person collective–musician Mark Messing, performance poet Cin Salach, and cyberpunk artist Kurt Heintz–has always crowded its shows with special effects, from video images to synthesized sounds to computer-enhanced graphics, even a giant photo plate developed before our eyes. And sometimes it’s been to the detriment of their art: in the 1992 You’re Soaking in It, Heintz’s and Messing’s experimental sounds and pictures overwhelmed Salach’s poetry. But in their current show, Wireless Ballroom, the three of them turn their (admittedly fascinating) vice into a virtue, creating a show in which message and medium are one. Being overwhelmed by technology is the point. And for those of us who have surfed the ‘net, the idealized worlds of on-line interactive computer games–where all men are heroes, all women goddesses, and all children above average–the Loofahs’ message that virtual reality is not real is a valuable one. Even more amazing than their on-the-mark critique is the fact that, with the help of director James Grigsby and a host of collaborators (Beau O’Reilly is particularly fine as a computer wizard), the Loofahs have crafted a show as moving as it is wise. At Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 871-1212. Through May 22: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $12.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mark Howell-Penner.