19. All precious things, discovered late

We performed our site specific piece three days ago, which has given me time to reflect on our process and the day itself.

Unfortunately, it was one of the wettest and windiest days we have experienced outside for our performance, though we tried to keep our spirits high and continue on. We arrived early before the performance was planned to start, and placed our moments of coincidence and the scallop shells around the tours walk, as some can be seen documented here. We all enjoyed preparing for the piece, and were intrigued to which ones the audience would see and connect to.  For the performance, we had a small audience of a couple of people, due to the bad weather, though because of the nature of our piece being an individual audio tour, the number of the audience had no bearing on the actual performance. They each arrived with their audio already downloaded through the event page, and once they had been introduced to the tour and offered their scallop shell, they listened to the audio and walked the piece. When the tour had ended for them, they returned to the meeting point and were asked for their feedback on how the journey was for them individually. All said they had a positive experience and enjoyed spotting the scallops and the moments of coincidence, whether it be on the audio itself or a visual prop that we had placed. Additionally, we were told they each noticed more moments that we had not planned, such as a robin tweeting, an elderly man walking his dog and a van with the word “pilgrim” in bright and bold lettering parked where we first met. These were true moments of chance, which added a pure connection to our audio that was just there for the performance in the right place at the right time. As a group, we were all very proud and pleased with how the performance went, and despite some of the obstacles we faced on the day, such as the low audience number and the weather, I think it was a success.

Moreover, because our piece was an audio tour, the performance can live on in the future, though without the moments of coincidence that we purposefully planned for the day. However, as we ourselves experienced, true moments of coincidence can occur whilst the audio is played, making it that much more serendipitous. In the future, perhaps the piece would be better experienced when performed on a “nicer day”, though this is not something we can truly plan for either. Regardless of this possibility, our piece can be performed at any time, allowing for it to continue on without us.

Overall, I personally feel very happy with how the performance played out and the progress we as a group made from when we initially came together to the final performance three days ago. I think we all embraced what site specific performance can be, and in the end made something that reflected what we all wanted to make at the very beginning. As Mike Person suggests, our performance “may also become a lasting part of the story of that place” (Pearson, 2010, 16), offering a bigger purpose for the hard work and time we put into our piece. Though this module has been a challenge at times, it has impacted how I define “performance”, and shown me a new world to “drama” that I had no previous idea or concept of. I believe I have grown as a performer, and learnt that a “stage” to perform on or with can be found anywhere.

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

 Inspiration: Antony Gormley

So as I said in my last blog that I was going to write about the artists that have sparked an idea for this site specific performance. Those artists are:

  • Antony Gormley
  • Nele Azevedo
  • Do Ho Suh

So this first ‘Inspiration’ blog, I will be talking about is Antony Gormley is known for his works on sculptures all over the world, one of his famous ones is the ‘angel of the north.’ Gormley’s work started to be critically acclaimed in the 1985. The work I will be talking about that relates to my group’s piece is the ‘Field for the British Isles’ where this piece is created by volunteers. Who create their one terracotta figure to place in a room where the room is filled with them, corner to corner, end to end. http://www.antonygormley.com/projects/item-view/id/245#p6

Antony Gormley says “I wanted to work with people and to make a work about our collective future and our responsibility for it” (Gormley, 2014).  Where the artwork faces you and makes you responsible for these figures as they constantly stare at you. This feeling makes us think that we are “responsible for the world that it [FIELD] and we were in” (Gormley, 2014).

The idea of figures such as these spread all over the cathedral garden gives it have a dramatic effect from the end of the journey from creating your piece from Pottergate to making sure its ok from the path which we take to the garden to put it in its final resting ground. I feel the dramatic effect that Gormley’s work gives a great effect for our piece to make the garden more a live and gives an impact to the volunteer of a permanent memory and impact on the place, by placing down a part of you and part of your imagination.

As it says in the Site Specific Performance book Pearson puts that a “French archaeologist Laurent Olivier has termed a ‘relationship of proximity maintained regarding places, objects, ways of life or practices that are still ours and still nourish our collective identity’” (Pearson, 2010,43). By bringing the idea of our sites into a performance that gives an impact on the place but also gives it nourishment to our piece. That make us feel what we are doing to our sites makes it feel like ours for a day and hopefully to the volunteers as well. It shows the “relationship between material culture and human behaviour” (Pearson, 2010, 44) as these places are neglected and should be given back to the public, like they were back in their day then being in the background.  With making a performance with salt dough figures and making a path between the hidden gems (Pottergate and The Cathedral Garden) it does make the work look back at you, as this piece is a simple figure of you, created by you, looked after by you, carried by you and placed down by you. It gives you a connection to you to the piece, giving that feeling of responsibility.

References

Gormley, A. (2014) Field, 1989 – 2003. [online] London: Antony Gormley. Available from: http://www.antonygormley.com/projects/item-view/id/245#p0 [Accessed on 19 April 2015].

Pearson, M (2010) Site-Specific Performance. 1st Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

8. Being Creative

This week our performance idea has gone through several changes. After showing Rachel a small piece of what our performance might be, we have realised we need to make some adjustments and changes. We now want to be creative with our site, such as using bunting, chalk drawings and messages to have our audience interact with the Cathedral and show their perceptions in a more literal sense. We want our performance to have a very freeing and playful sense to it, showing a comparison of adult and child through audio interviews. Rachel suggested having our performance come full circle, with the beginning meeting and introduction in the grass area being slightly altered at the end. She also informed us of having our audio instructions much more detailed than we originally thought. We have looked at other audio based site specific performanes, such as Robert Wilson’s Walking, which captures the immersive audience experience that we want to incorporate in our piece.

(Dewachi, 2012)

Mike Pearson says “there is no privilege of origin: a place owes its character not only to the experiences it affords as sights, sounds, etc. but also to what is done there as looking, listening, moving. Both “being” and environment are mutually emergent, continuously brought into existence together. And here performance might represent a place of work or special moment within landscape…” (Pearson, 2010, 16). I feel this is an important quote for us to have in the back of our minds as we continue on, and though we still have a long way to go in putting our piece together, our initial stages so far have been very productful and informative.
Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hydar Dewachi. (2012) Robert Wilson “Walking”. [Online Video]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8ih4GddMc4. [Accessed: 18 April 2015].

7. Interviewing the Locals

Our meeting with Rachel went very well, and I feel we are now ready to being testing out our performance idea. She gave us a deadline of Monday to create a draft version of our performance, using the local shopkeepers of the area to answer our questions about the site on an audio recording. The questions we asked were:

- What do you automatically think of when you see this picture? (for example, the headless statues)
– What do you know, if anything, about this picture?
– If nothing, how would you describe this to a tourist if you were conducting a tour?
– Do you know about any myths concerning the Cathedral?
– What do you know about Tennyson?

By conducting these “interviews”, we were able to gain the material that we needed, whilst also learning of the local perspective and ideas of our site. Mike Pearson experienced a similar understanding, stating “these differentiated places act as “containers” (of memories, stories and legends)” (Pearson, 2010, 55).

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmilan.

Week 2

Drifting, or ‘meandering’ is becoming ‘increasingly unfamiliar and regarded as aimless and wasting-time’[i] However, whilst strolling ‘one becomes aware of suburban details and social space.’ (Jones, 2010, p.87) During my own experience of ‘drifting’ this week I certainly became more aware of the architecture, history and atmosphere of our given site.

In Pearson’s chapter ‘Models and Approaches’[ii] he highlights the multiple ways in which one can experience and be inspired by a specific site, both as a performer and ‘audience’ member. The chapter made me think about the history of Lincoln, and the different perceptions and memories each individual will have towards the same site as ‘land itself is not regarded as separate from the lived experience’ (Pearson, 2010, p.19). I was interested by Claire Blundell Jones’ ‘Walking, the Western and the tumbleweed’ and the way she uses ‘drifting’ as a performance to ‘create a new playful space between themselves and the unsuspecting audience, who can potentially begin to imagine alternatives in their local environment’ (Jones, 2010, p.87)

The line ‘each surviving doorway was once entered, each window once looked through’ (Pearson, 2010, p.24) was my primary stimuli of inspiration whilst taking photographs around the top of the hill…

Whilst looking through my photographs I also spotted the Latin words ‘pereunt et imputantur’ on one of the sides of the Cathedral walls, which means “They (hours) pass away and are reckoned on (our) account”. This reminded me of Duncan Speakman’s audio walk ‘As If It Were The Last Time’ and again made me consider using audio or creating some sort of ‘spiritual journey’ (also similar to Robert Wilson’s ‘Walking) in our own performances around the Cathedral.

 

[i] Jones, Claire Blundell(2010) ‘Walking, the Western and the tumbleweed’, Visual Studies, 25: 1, p. 87-88

[ii] Pearson, M, Site Specific Performance (Basingtone: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)