Monday, March 29, 2010

Lab Two Report. We all have a responsibility

Right...Not too sure what the layout of a proper lab report (that is not a physics or chemistry lab) should be like. So here is the feedback sheet I gave out to spectators after the performance. Those were the main questions discussed, although the talk was very open and different opinions regarding various aspects of the work were shared.

The primary question I was addressing was the audience space. All spectators had been facing a different direction, and I was happy with the result, as everyone had encountered some kind of difficulty in understanding where to look. Some had felt embarassed to move around in order not to make noise, others were in a place where the two main screens where an action took place were clearly visible at the same time, while somebody felt like 'being all over the place'. It was less than a 10 minute performance, and some complained of a neck pain... Well, tough, it's up to you how you treat your neck!
I must be honest, very few people gave constructive comments, provided that those labs were meant for constructive discussion, testing ideas and hopefully finding out what works and what doesn't. No doubt I had fun receiving silly  comments from people who were simply maybe too tired or not in the mood, and as much as I may be considerate of my fellow workers' opinions, I shall remain concentrated on the comments I found constructive and therefore useful for my work.

I felt it is necessary to stress this point exactly because my work starts with the audience and their role. I recognise the complexity of spectatorship and my research aims at reflecting the spectators' complexity in terms of vision, auditory interpretation, physical space. I have a responsibility for what I do and how it is interpreted, but in this case the audience had a responsibility of giving constructive comment and they did not.

Fair enough, the following can be deducted from the more active members of audience:

1.Sitting arrangement was interesting, even if it created limits. To make audience members freer to move chairs the use of chairs of stools (with no back) can be used. Also, why not stools with wheels?
Why was the audience seated? Technical problems (lights and video screen couldn't be fixed high enough, so everyone's shadow would have been cast on the screens)

2. Visuals in different places were interesting because it gave a choice. This is what it was meant to do, although some felt that they couldn't see everything. But in the way we interpret do we actually see everything? What is everything?
The piece dealt with a curious case of a visual interpretation disorder. Maybe I was actually able to transmit the notion of a visual disorder.

3. The dialogue sequence (possible thanks to a collaboration with Lauren and Jeanne) was for some very good, as it enriched the piece. Others felt it was confusing. Those are two very different statements. Not because the latter implies that the speech performance was not a very good idea, but because they are of different nature. One has to do with structure of the piece and the other interprets one aspect of it. Well the two voices were really one person that had two minds: a visual and an emotional one. It is impossible not to mix them up!
I think that technically Lauren and Jeanne did a very good job. Of course time was as usually a problem and they didn't have enough time to rehearse (and of course for an ongoing project I would feel obliged to pay them!). However, from experience, voice work develops over time, and especially when working with always the same people, a certain rhythm develops, where the beat and time of words flows according to unknown rules.

4. The domino sequence. Managed to get some interpretations, although a few people found it was not necessary to attribute any meaning to it, as visually and sound wise they created a good effect. For another they marked the beginning and the end of the piece, which they accidentally did! They did mark two different interpretations of vision. To another they carried the weights of trauma, fate and reflection. I guess it was a chain reaction I wanted to include for its marking sound, that has to do with a rhythm in time. Visually a chain reaction shows how one thing leads to another and another again, which does have to do with the complex neurological system of vision and emotions.

5. Light stripes. Somebody recalled a similar effect from my first piece (What you see is what you get?). Am I developing a style here? The overhead projector was the best option for this, as darks are stark dark and lights are shining. A video may be endlessly versatile in the sequences of lines, but the darks are still projected black light, which does reveal what is in front of it. 
However, I would like to do some further video testing. 
The sequence appeared to be interesting in the beginning, when my body was not yet fully visible. Once I was fully visible, although the dark stripes hid some parts, one could make up even what was not seen. This was a very good comment. It is really difficult to know what actually people see when I am performing. I did film myself to see the effect and asked somebody to do a few movements with the light sequence, but it is different live and when you are in it! Since the whole point of this part had to do with seeing parts of a whole and never the whole thing, a more interesting light sequence will be tested soon despite the fact that a projection sends out more light. I will look into it, portakabin here I come!

6.Would people come to see my next work? Not many answered this, so I guess they didn't get time, didn't feel comfortable with it or just didn't want to say 'no'. A funny one was 'not unless it's free'! This was hilarious, honesty appreciated. But then again...I must remain faithful to analysing and responding. If I work towards encouraging an active audience, I must be an active performer and an active receiver of feedback. We all go to concerts, exhibitions and events that are free. It's a way of seeing more without spending much, and especially for students this is a big advantage. However, if I saw singer X for free a couple of months ago and found him utterly boring and unoriginal, I would definitely not go to see him again, even if it's for free. Why would I waste my time? I think this answer has to do more with the relation that the spectator has with money, and had nothing to do with the way my performance was presented and its structure.

Well, there goes a performance lab report. If it may not be of any use to anyone, it certainly has been good for me to gather a few reflections.

Some pictures from the show, kindly offered by Dun Yu:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Technical matters

I was quite happy with Lab Two on Thursday, it all went as planned, I got to collaborate with Lauren and Jeanne for the dialogue part, received some constructive feedback.

Here's my technical plans regarding set-up, lights, performers.
A report on aims achieved will follow.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reading between the (visual) lines

Lab Two - A Self Interview

What do I hope to achieve?

I want to create a space for the audience, where they feel free to turn around and look in different directions. I will be using different elements within the piece, which can be viewed from different angles, thus providing a choice of different visual as well as auditory imput.
I want to find find out how safe the audience feels with being in the middle of a performance space, which is an audience arrangement I want to use for the Interim Show.
Further, it is important for me to get feedback on the reception and interpretation of the signifiers within the work, which draws inspiration from a curious case of a neurological disorder described by Oliver Sacks.

Why do I want to achieve this?

In my previous work I looked for different ways of making audience discover and see through unconventional ways of lighting and stage design, which inevitably involved audiences' participation through their use of other senses such as touch and smell. This research has taken me further into questioning audience participation and its mechanisms. Although this piece is not of direct audience participation, it will examine the physical settings for audience involvement, which is an integral part of the project for the Interim Show in April.

What research questions am I asking?

I will be addressing mainly practical questions that regard the audience engagement. I would like to see how they can interpret and interact within a space that is not designed for a conventional audience. Furthermore, I am experimenting with live dialogue, which is something I hadn't employed in my past two performance pieces.

Note: My original idea was to invite the audience to join in the dialogue, but I decided this is not a good idea (at least at this point) as spectators may feel intimidated. I don't like hearing my own voice, and knowing that I am not the only one, why should I push the audience into something like that? For me audience participation must be a natural reaction only triggered by performative elements. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back to Weighting Time

I was so absorbed by our first written assignment over Christmas that I missed posting some documentation of The Weighting Frame, which was a big group  project we presented at the theatre in Wimbledon College of Art right before breaking for winter holidays.

Now that I have started on planning my show for the Interim festival in the second half of April, which will take place at the theatre, I looked at the theatre plan for measurments and came across some images.

Almost all of us were performing or working on technical matters so we were unable to actually see the performance, but I think it was presented very professionally and was indeed a very useful and enjoyable experience (apart from painting white panels out in the snow!) 

This is the result of my personal development of the 'Insignificance' room:

Some  great pictures by Dun Yu of the whole set:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chain Reactions

Following up my comparison of audience participation to a chain reaction, I couldn't help thinking of the simpliest home made chain reaction, which everyone has made at least once in their life. I got these wonderful white domino sets and tried out arranging a chain. So I will be shooting a short video in the observatory soon to use for my next piece. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rider Spoke - an intimate talk anonymous

Recently I visited a couple of times the Live Art Development Agency. A cosy little library, which contains an amazing number of DVDs, books, magazines and other pubblications. I spent two days mostly watching DVDs that document the work of various artists who work in the field.

Although I didn't find any video documentation of the work of Richard Foreman, Richard Schechner and The Wooster Group, whose work I have only read about so far, I found the library very useful for getting to know performance artists and experimental theatre companies operating in the UK.

I watched a video that documents the piece Rider Spoke by the artists' group Blast Theory. It was of much interest to me due to their approach to audience participation. Rider Spoke sends out its participants on bicycles around the city with a specially deviced digital map. They are to find a hiding place where they can verbally answer questions about their personal life and emotions on a recording device, while the venues are indicated on their digital screen.

The video documentation I had access to was from Rider Spoke at the Barbican in 2007. While it contained technical explanations of the technology involved and practical issues, it gave you a taste of the participants' voice recordings, letting you in each private little world made of words. 

While the piece offes its participants freedom and self-sufficiency, they embark on a journey unsure of what is to come next. Their orienteering skills are put to the test and they are asked to answer personal questions while cycling around or stopping at a certain spot, which could have been just visited by another participant. It may be said that the participants are the sole protagonists of this work and although their stories are revealed in a collection and released as documentation material, the participants are on their own and the project is about their personal way of interpreting reality given a certain setting (the city). Audience is not a collective organism here but rather a moving body of individuals who visit the same places all at different times. 

Rider Spoke wants the audience to talk about themselves in an intimate manner, and there is no better way of doing that than letting each participant wander around on their own. Participants are confronted with their own thoughts and feelings, which becomes all easier to do in the absence of a rigid and predefined space and a spectator/actor who is there, eager to hear it all. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Space measuring

The space I will be using for my Lab Two research and performance work.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stirring up reactions

As I have been developing some ideas on creating a participatory performance, I came to realise that a chain reaction mechanism could be a good way to imagine how active responses may be triggered within an audience, transforming them into a wave that follows a certain pattern. A pattern where one thing naturally leads to another, simply demonstrating the way things go, so well illustarted by Swiss artists Fischly and Weiss in one of their most celebrated works 'The Way Things Go'.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On Lab Two

We have been split into groups and in a couple of weeks our group is presenting work. We are largely working individually and each is presenting an unfinished piece that may illustrate what we have been/are/ will be working on. We will give feedback to one another and also get feedback from another MA tutor.

I am going further into exploring how the other senses (such as touch, hearing and smell apart from vision) may be involved in a performance and to what degree the participation of an audience disrupts the visual aesthetics of the work. I have been working on different ways of seeing/non seeing, which has led my work to looking into the dynamics of the feedback loop between performer and audience. My projects have up to now aimed at involving the audience in unconventional ways and, inviting them to find out and discover both visually and through the other senses rather than simply showing them. My future plans will involve a participatory audience. I want to trigger spectators' reactions through providing and effective way of challenging their perception. However, it is very important for me that participation does not turn into a game or a forced element of the piece.

Complex and subtle are the words coming to mind. And they mean to describe what could ideally be attributed to the results of the lab.

Peeping Tom

Last Wednesday I saw another piece that incorporated performance and photographic images at the RCA. It was presented by artists Ralf Obergfell and Tony Hornecker.

What I found interesting about it was the installation of small construction spaces that were built in the gallery. Each one housed a drag queen in her cubicle, apparently in a nautural pose: sitting, whisper singing, dancing or just reading a book. 

The audeince was able to see the performers through little holes, all of different sizes and types, for example one of the little cubicles had magnyfing glass fit in the openings. It very much reminded me of my last piece and it was interesting to see how audience was eager to see what was in each cubicle. It really looked like we were invading somebody's private space, becasue the harder it was to see something, the more one wanted to see.

The presence of many different spaces created curiosity but after seeing the same type of situation in each of them, it was became a little pointless to peep as one could imagine what one would see. I would define it as a live installation piece, due to its repetitive dynamics.

I will reuse the hole wall again, in a different manner. But do I want a peeping Tom audience?