Thinking about Performance Documentation

Whilst exploring Philip Auslander’s The Performativity of Performance Documentation, it made me begin to question what really counts as a ‘performance’. He splits performance documentation into two types: Theatrical and Documentary. Auslander describes ‘documentary’ performance as the traditional way of performance art – being performed there and then, with people witnessing or recording it actually happening. However, ‘theatrical’ is almost the second hand performance. Although in the final performance documentation, it may look real – this type of performance is staged to look as if it really happened, but actually didn’t happen. Only in the final documentation (the photograph) is when you can see something happening. This made me think of our present day society. How do we know what is really real, with editing apps such as photoshop and green screen to make film settings and imagery look more enhanced? What is the original picture or performance art – taking the original photo, or adding to it to make it something different? The power of photography and camera works is something that particularly stands out to me.

Auslander uses two performance art works by practitioners Chris Burden and Yves Klein as evidence of these two classifications. Chris Burden’s 1971 performance art named ‘Shoot’, fits into the category of ‘documentary’ performance/body art. In this performance, Chris Burden is shot in his left arm and we can visually see and hear him being shot on the recording. (Waldir Barreto, 2008). Although it is clear he was definitely shot, who are his intended audience? The people who were present at the onset of the recording, or us, the viewers watching through the recording? In this sense, body art performance works needs the photograph to confirm its having happened: it is an ‘anchor for its indexicalities.’ (Auslander, -). Without the recording, Burden would only have the people present at the time to vouch for the shooting happening. Secondly is that of Yves Klein’s ‘theatrical’ performance documentation called ‘Jumping into the Void‘. In this performance art, Klein intended to generate a piece of art which would have some sort of ‘social impact of mass media as a means of persuasion.’ (Zone Zero, -).

photo

Klein was actually only falling onto a padded matt beneath him and then the photograph was edited to put the outside photo with the upper part of the photo. This is why it is so contrasting to see the man on the bike acting so casually. This photo can completely alter someone’s view of that space and time. As stated by Klein, he believes that ‘man will only be capable of conquering space after impregnating it with his own sensitivity.’ (Klein, 1961.) 

When using this knowledge of what is the real, authentic act of the performance, Auslander talks about audio recordings, using The Beatles as an example. When they record their music, the instruments do not always play with them, they play separately and are then added together to make layers of music that mould together to make one. Therefore he makes the reader question whether the music we listen to really is true or authentic. During one of our sessions, our group decided to use these theories as a possibility for performance work, playing with the idea of complexities of photo’s within photo’s. Whilst sat in the cafe, we took this photo using multiple devices, which could then possibly carry on if people were to take a photo of ours and so forth. Here was our experiment in performance documentation: Photo within a photo

 

Works Cited:

Auslander, P. (-) The Performativity of Performance. 

Waldir Barreto (2008) Chris Burden : Shoot, 1971. [online video] Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE5u3ThYyl4 [Accessed 12 February 2015].

Zone Zero (-) Jumping into the Void. [online]. Available from: http://v1.zonezero.com/magazine/zonacritica/saltaralvacio/index.html [Accessed 12 February 2015.]

 

Week 2: Site, representation and perspectives

When originally exploring the site, I took many photos of documentation to reflect what intrigued or inspired me about the uphill surroundings. Having lived in Lincoln for over a year, it would be more than likely that I would carelessly walk through the site without really taking in every aspect of its culture and history. As described by Phil Smith in the chapter: The Handbook of Drifting, he encourages that individuals who partake in Guy Debord’s ‘derive’ (also known as a drift) must look for a theme: textures, the old, the new; looking for meaning in everything. This type of walk described as ‘drifting’ aims to detach us from our comfort zone and take chances on where a walk may take us. One of Smith’s instructions is to ‘get rid of rational-way finding’ to collectively allow ‘what has happened so far to determine your next choice.’ (Smith, 2010, 119). It is almost like being an excited child and letting your instincts guide you, rather than guiding ourselves by what we merely think we would like to see. Thus, Debord developed a concept known as ‘pyschogeography’ – intertwining our conscious everyday critical thinking as a ‘playful encounter with [a site]‘ (Govan et al, 2007, 141).

Continuing from the idea of playfulness, we were set a task to go on a walk and create a map of some sort to record our encounters of the space. Me and Megan decided that we would focus on that of the senses – drawing buildings that we found distinctive, textures that grabbed us and conversations we could hear around us. Here is my mix-matched map of our walk around uphill Lincoln:

Our mix-matched map!

Our mix-matched map!

As you can see, we noted particularly snippets of conversations we heard as passers by, which we found quite comical. Once we had returned from our short explorations in pairs, we came back to St. Paul’s courtyard in Bailgate to create our own misguides and tours of our own. Arlene Sanderson talks about ‘Wrights and Sites’ for those interested in the performed activity of walking. A manifesto was created which depicted how they wanted to generate walking that ‘engages with and changes the city, it recruits the arts not as passive expressions, but as the active changes of it.’ (1991, 70). In this sense, we were given the freedom to create misguided tours around the courtyard. Me and Megan decided to act upon the idea of playfulness and decided to view the courtyard as if from a child’s perspective. The benches near the well were the safety zone, whilst the shape formed on the floor further away from the well was the deep dark depths of the underworld. Other groups took us on various tours and some of these intriguing misguides are shown on my flickr photo stream, which you can view through the link at the beginning of my blog post.

 

Works Cited:

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogeography: A guide to walking sideways. London: Axminster Triarchy Press.

Govan, E., Nicholson, H., and Normington, K. (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. New York: Routledge.

Sanderson, A. (1991) A Manifesto for a New Walking Culture: ‘Dealing with the City’. In: Wrights and sites. United States: Washington Preservation Press.

‘I know it like the back of my hand’

In today’s lesson we were asked to follow some sort of map, or route. I started thinking of a more interesting way to find a route instead of drawing one on paper, of following a certain item. I do not know Lincoln very well and I especially do not know the top of the hill at all, this made me start to think about people who did know the area and got me asking questions like, how do we know where to go? Which direction do we take first? This linked me onto the phrase that people often use in a place they know very well – “I know it like the back of my hand.” This triggered me into thinking about that phrase literally rather than figuratively, because of course no one really looks at the back of their hand if they’re lost right? Well this got me thinking again, about what if I did use my hand to create the map; thus knowing the route ‘like the back of my hand’. https://www.flickr.com/photos/130645709@N04/sets/72157650897301775/

The next step was a starting point for the map on my hand, as I am quite vascular, I started with the most prominent vein and went from there, drawing on my hand, where I went and what I saw. However, following my veins ended rather quickly as a lot of the roads I travelled down were dead ends, resulting in me having to back track and to find a different route which weren’t ones that matched with my veins. This idea had a very interesting outcome as I feel like I was the only one who really understood my drawings and which direction was what, but overall found it to be very productive and I was able to find a route that I was happy with.

Week 1: Inspirational videos

After our seminar session in the first week, I began researching into some of the performance works that particularly intrigued and engaged with me. The first performance pieces that distinctly caught my attention was that of using audio in a space which is inhabited by the public on a daily basis and where brief encounters may occur. In a similar sense to that of our SubtleMob experience, two of the performances: LIGNA’s Radio Ballet and Ratozaza’s Etiquette take place in public sites. Firstly, LIGNA’s Radio Ballet, is an ‘exercise in lingering not according to the rules.’ (Ligna Blog, 2009). It took place in a busy Railway Station in Leipzig, Germany; a place in which is under high surveillance by security cameras. With the sites architecture having dark corners and areas to hide in, any act (ie – laying down on the public floor) is deemed outside of the social norms and would result in being removed from the site. Due to its strict control, the Radio Ballet aims to pull various participants together in this site to do various deviant acts of behaviour. On 22nd June 2003, 500 participants ‘usual radio listeners, no dancers or actors – were invited to enter the station, equipped with cheap, portable radios and earphones.’ (ibid, 2009). Using these devices they could listen to a radio program consisting of choreography suggesting permitted and forbidden gestures (to beg, to sit or lie down on the floor etc.). By doing these specific gestures – pulling a stop bell on a train and imitating waving passengers off with a handkerchief, were acts in which made usual passers by stop and take in the unusual action evolving around them.

Radio Ballet, June 2003.

Radio Ballet, June 2003.

As seen in the image above, the participants were able to disperse themselves wherever they wished to within the location of the station to thereby let the events play out freely. They acted as ‘a free association, which transformed the coincidental constellation of radio reception into a political intervention.’ (ibid, 2009.) This performance shed a new light upon the busy site and perhaps even united individuals into moments of synchronism.

The second audio performance piece I found mesmerizing was Ratozaza’s ‘Etiquette’. They audience members of a generic public forum such as a cafe/bar are transformed into performance makers.The audio conversation interweaves with the objects placed in front of them; making what would be their everyday ‘small talk’ into a more fun and unique way of public interaction. Etiquette ‘exposes human communication at both its rawest and most delicate and explores the difficulty of turning our thoughts into words we can trust.’ (Etiquette2, 2010). As in the previous performance, the line between audience and performer is blurred – straying from what we see as conventional theatre.

One particular performance that sparked an idea is that of Ezra Dickinson’s concept: ChildrenDuring this performance, three adults are filmed walking a certain distance. The performance we as viewers are watching, shows them walking at normal speed with everyone around them at double speed. With this in mind, I interpreted their performance as a metaphor for a child’s mindset: everything is bustling around them and they are the ones who take in the little things that surround us. It is almost a day in the life of a young child and conveying this through the art of slow movements from the performers. It puts forward a question to an audience member of time and what would happen if we slowed this down? People walking by experimented with them – some joining in and some giving them things to hold. The performers could interact but their core was to ultimately walk from one place to another in a straight line. This piece has inspired me to perhaps consider the notion of time and its power to change perspectives and/or movements.

Works Cited:

LIGNA [online blog]. http://ligna.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/radio-ballet.html [Accessed 7th February 2015].

Etiquette2 [online blog]. http://www.rotozaza.co.uk/etiquette2.html [Accessed 7th February 2015].

Inspired

Today session involved the group being led on a tour of the uphill area of Lincoln. We discovered the sites we would be able to use and places I personally never knew where there. Whilst on the tour I began to collate different elements to make my idea which I would like to expand upon for my performance. My idea is to work with the perspective of the uphill ‘world’ through heightened senses. When reviewing my photos after the tour some of them inspired me to maybe use photography to portray different feelings or edit them in such a way (like the experimental ones below) to show what partially sighted,colour blind and disabled people may see or to maybe portray different emotions/feelings such as awe, wonder, hopelessness or confusion.

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