– so I made my own exhibition catalogues by hand using photocopies, scrap paper, sticky tape and hand-typed titles. It has my artist essay, details of the development process and excerpts of the documentation –
To wrap up my honours year I’m doing a solo exhibition at Gallery: 5 Crown Lane in Wollongong. The exhibition is a culmination of my experiments and projects from the beginning of the year.
Despite the diversity of experiments that I’ve carried out this year (from large scale turmeric installations, to ephemeral performance pieces, to portable hand held installations, to blogging) the underlying concepts have always come back to repetition, duration and movement. In particular this year’s work has been characterised by an ongoing concern with the negotiation between spaces – whether these are physical, mental, metaphorical, imaginative. ‘Dialogues’ describe these ongoing negotiations – exchanges between things, generally occurring simultaneously.
‘Off the Route’ is an experimental performance series that focuses on repetition, duration and social interaction.
At the beginning of each performance participants are given one of three tasks: to read aloud; to type what was being spoken; to watch the event unfold. Every participant was told to repeat this task for the duration of the performance. In this series the time was on hour. At the end of each performance there was a 5 minute silence. The performance is self documenting – with the typing task producing a strange mash up of all the quotes being read aloud. The documents were then used for the next performance creating a cycle of deterioration (I also found that when you were reading aloud words that made no sense it was much easier to find a rhythm and settle into the task – although it was much harder to follow as a typer. It was also kind of amazing how certain sections began to make sense…)
Each performance was fundamentally shaped by the social interactions between those present. I found it particularly amazing how each performance varied so much depending on the group performing. Furthermore how each participant responded to the performance was as equally diverse. Some had fun with it. For others it was a special kind of pain. And the concept of time seemed to vary for each person (the participants were asked to remove their watches and turn off their phones…) – for some it went quicker than they expected for others I’m sure it was drawn out. For me personally – the final performance was the longest and the hardest (i was typing… i think this makes a huge difference).
For me personally one of the most interesting things was how each person worked within such a broad set of instructions. For instance the first performance was incredibly playful and cheeky. People walked around, sang, put on accents, argued with each other, had yelling matches across the room and played with the acoustics in the room. Whereas in the final performance (perhaps it important that it was an all female cast?) it was quite a sombre affair. No one moved, no one laughed. There wasn’t any singing or mucking around but instead was very straight to the point.
The other really interesting thing for me that emerged from this series was the affect of silence after such a long period of chaotic noise. It was intense! Deafening. Seriously the hardest part of the performance! It was crushing! But it did make you very very aware of your surroundings.
The series developed out of an earlier experiment that was very similar. In the original experiment – the time was much shorter a whole 20mins only. And no silence at the end. The time for this series, as with the period of silence at the end, was determined as a direct result from the original experiment. There was however a venue change for this series. Instead of Gallery 5 Crown Lane, this series was held in the Project Space at UOW. This made a huge difference! The space is stark and empty and almost characterless but most importantly it ECHOES! Which just added a whole new layer to the performance.
This all being said and done (quite literally) I’m not too sure what it is that I’m trying to achieve with this series. I certainly like what its doing and the affects it has (and its kind of interesting as an artist to rely so much on other people to make your art happen – to hand over so much of the control) but it seems the performance is now incredibly problematic for me. How do I present it? Do I even want to present it? How do I communicate what it was like to be there – what it was like for each individual person? Does that even matter? How will i use the documents that it generated? Is it important that the quotes used in the original performance make no sense what so ever in the last one… so many many questions.
”OFF THE ROUTE”
3-4pm each day:
WED 28TH SEPT
THURS 29TH SEPT
FRI 30TH SEPT
1 room. 2 typewriters. People.
3 tasks: to speak, to type, to watch.
“Off the Route” is an experimental performance series that focuses on repetition and duration as strategies for creating reflective spaces. In a media crazed world, where text, sound and image consume our everyday lives, do we really take in and reflect on the information given to us?
‘Off the Route’ isolates snippets of information, slowing the participant down and focusing attention, creating a individual reflective space. Yet each person’s focus – in tone, volume, speed and so on – influences the group creating a collective experience.
To join in come to the Project Space at 3pm.
Tasks and instructions will be given on arrival.
Project Space: Level 3. Building 40. University of Wollongong.
You don’t need to be in all three performances but you can if want to.
I’d been stewing on this idea for a while.
Well not this exact idea but things to this effect. In fact much earlier in the year I’d attended a few first year theory lectures that where about the Wooster Group. Amazing stuff. I’d seen some of their stuff earlier but it was interesting to come back to it in light of what I’d been writing about in my thesis – live art, mediation, documentation and the like (for anyone who hasn’t heard me talk about it yet…). In the lecture we covered two pieces – Brace Up! and House Lights. Both pieces are ‘mash-ups’ of a sort I guess, for example Brace Up! is actually Chekov’s ‘three sisters’ but performed in a way that also references contemporary society. Anyway what I found interesting about Wooster Group was their use of technology, both within the live event and in the documentation of the live event. For example Brace Up! is recorded each time it is performed, each recording is added to the last and so there is not only the confusion of what is happening live and what is post edited, there is also confusion of WHEN it actually happened (combined with the fact that this is also used within the live event itself whereby recordings are presented live as part of the performance…). In House Lights there was an interesting dialogue between onstage performers, offstage people and recordings. In this instance the performers were wearing ear-pieces and were reciting lines that they were hearing through these devices. The movements, likewise, were being copied from various screens positioned on stage (which were showing Olga’s House of Shame – retro soft porn). Anyway, I haven’t done these justice (look them up), but what I walked away with was a sense of being able to play with the mediation of the live event and simultaneously with documentation.
This I guess then combined with my wider practice that is largely concerned with trace, movement and repetition (to put it in a nut shell). Indeed I was suddenly struck by how much repetition and duration are such a vital part of my art practice when I was helping Michele Elliot de-install an installation – 6 000 delicate glass bullets (each glass bullet had been carefully hand crafted, carefully placed and laid out on the floor of the gallery creating a glimmering pool on the gallery floor). Each bullet had to be picked up and carefully wrapped in its own plastic bag for storage. Such a simple task. Yet over time this simple task becomes almost meditative and allows you to just exist. Its like time has paused because the immediate past and immediate future have blended together and you are here, in the now. Well that is my take on it anyway. Its something that I feel when hand-sewing. Or when I made those hundreds of hand felted balls.
5 x quotes
5 x speakers
2 x typers
2 x typewriters
Give each speaker a quote, typed neatly on a single sheet of paper. Ask them to repeat this quote for the next twenty minutes. Simultaneously. Ask the two typers to write down everything their hear over the next twenty minutes. Get everyone in position. Go.
In addition to this I also had two people whose sole job was to sit and observe the whole thing, one person videoing and an audio recorder.
It was important at the time to not give too much instruction – for example to tell the speakers to pause at certain points, or to tell the typers how to record the information they were hearing. It was an experiment and so it was a case of setting some parameters and then just seeing what came of it. I mean there was always the chance that it just wasn’t going to work. Or that someone would crack the shits and leave. Or that no one would show up.
Recruiting for the experiment:
Anyways the whole point about mentioning Wooster Group earlier was to point out that I’d been thinking about this for a while, but in a much more convoluted way. In the end I had this works in progress exhibition booked for a week in August. I got to the week before this, was under the pump with my writing and was feeling like I’d left my creative practice sitting on the sideline. The short of it was, I went ‘oh fuck I need some stuff for this exhibition’. Which was just what I needed to be honest.
So I put an event up on facebook – a general call out for volunteers for the experiment.
Speaking about it in my supervisor Lucas Ihlein earlier today – he pointed out that its quite similar to how Allan Kaprow used posters to recruit participants for his happenings. Which is a lovely idea and maybe something to think about…
Anyway people did show up. And such a great mixture of people as well I might add. We were mainly all students but from visual arts, performance and creative writing. Because of the cross over between performance, text and art I thought it was really quite great hearing everyone’s thoughts post performance about what their experiences had been like. And this I guess was the most important thing about not setting too tight a game plan from the very beginning.
I can only be in one place at one time (I was typing by the way).
And so for me to really understand what this performance was like from all angles it was important to leave it open enough to take into consideration the other performers. I mean I had my suspicions of what each role might be like – but I was also surprised by some of the responses.