This week I’ve been doing a lot of reading and looking, researching into methods and practices used by other artists. What a luxury to have the time to remember old art heroes, revisit works that I’ve seen overseas which has had lasting impact, research into how they made what they have made, search for new works, new artists, workshop ideas, exercises, and advice to mull over and refuse or adhere to.
Here’s what I’ve been looking at:
Immersive theatre: Punchdrunk
Punchdrunk is a British theatre company, formed in 2000, the pioneer of a form of "immersive" theatre in which the audience is free to choose what to watch and where to go. Artistic director Felix Barrett prefers the term "site-sympathetic" when describing their work.
Multimedia theatre: Robert Lepage/ Ex Machina
Ex Machina is a multidisciplinary company legend Robert lepage, bringing together actors, writers, set designers, technicians, opera singers, puppeteers, computer graphic designers, video artists, contortionists and musicians.
Installation, where the public is the performer: Forsyth - White Bouncy Castles
“ It was for us an extremely interesting and wonderful thing to be in the castle in this room of no spectators, only participants, and experience the arising of a choreography which was incapable of being false it was never false because of the parameters of destabilisation, unavoidable inconclusion in the event, the sheer absurdity and the fact that the castle lead you to move in a certain way created a situation where there was no room for actions that were not connected to the present. this is authentic reaction, something which often gets lost in the rigors of the ballet world, and yet without which ballet is utterly meaningless"
Artistic experiences using technology: Blast theory.
In works such as Karen (2015) we have explored how technology creates new cultural spaces in which the work is customised and personalised for each participant and what the implications of this shift might be for artistic practice. How are the economically and culturally disenfranchised engaged amid a culture of planned obsolescence and breathless futurism?
Devising: Theatre de Complicite
Complicite began life as a collective and this spirit of collective enquiry, of collaborative curiosity, has driven the work throughout its history. The Company is famous for making its work through extensive periods of research and development which brings together performers, designers, writers, artists and specialists from diverse fields to create the works – a process now known simply as ‘devising’.
Environments: Olafur Eliason
Olafur Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self.
Environments: James Turrell
For over half a century, the American artist James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception.
& other things -
"It doesn’t matter where you begin. Anything can be a starting point in theatre – a gesture, an idea, a song, a line of dialogue. What matters is the next step – how to find the opposing force, the conflict, the tension. If someone is sitting in a chair, the scene, the act, the play will be about how to get them out of the chair. What force, what cajoling, what entreaties, what seductions, what bribes are strong enough to get that person out of that chair? … Once the oppositional force is established, theatre begins. The audience want to know what will happen and why. The question ‘what will happen?’ will engage them while the performance is in progress. The question ‘why did it happen?’ will engage them long afterwards” Stephen Jeffreys, playwright
"To create, you must empty yourself of every artistic thought.” "We try not to have ideas, preferring accidents.” - Gilbert & George
"Steve Dixon (2007: 563) defines interactivity using four stages: navigation, participation, conversation and collaboration. The fourth stage implies that we go further than interaction based on the pre-established limits of the work; the user distorts the piece of art and constructs ‘new art’ from the work, making each encounter between a participant and the work unique. This model is similar to the one which was published by Ryan in 2001 (2001: 205). Dixon’s model also identifies four levels: the first consists of ‘reactive’ interaction: the environment reacts to the participant’s presence without him carrying out any particular movement, for example using sensors. The second stage consists of a random selection between various alternatives. The hypertext illustrates this stage. The third stage sends us back to selective interaction, through which the participant strives to meet an aim. The fourth and final stage involves the participant actively producing something which has a lasting effect on the textual world, whether it is by leaving objects behind or through writing his story.” Catherine Bouko
Coming from a theatre and film practice, where devising work and rehearsing is always made up of a series of physical exercises within a group, I often feel discombobulated when making solo work. How can I, and is it beneficial to, apply the methods learnt in one practice (devising theatre) to a different one (interactive/experiential installation)? In the first case, the ‘bodies’ are the actors, who are trained in preparation for the work. We have organic, responsive bodies, we devise by creating, improvising, then honing the material made. We create work by physically trying things out, thinking with our bodies, moving unconsciously. In the second, I’m taking my body out of the work - the artwork is made of objects. How can I devise with objects in an organic, free way? How can I make experimentation in both audience participation alongside technical and spatial investigation easy? The public is one of the most important ingredients in the work. How, during the creative process to make the work, can I truly anticipate their interaction in the final work?
So my personal mission this week has been to formulate methods with which I can devise interactive installation works. I won’t go into the minute details here, but by and large I’ve come down to this:
- Devise, improvise, explore, create and simulate environments, with willing helpers (who may have to pretend to be objects)
- Choose warm-up excerises that put us in the right field of mind to work together, and then tweak devising exercises so that they deal with creating works /environments for other unknowing bodies, rather than for our own
- Fill the studio / devising environment full of objects and materials that can be used to create, speedily
- Aim to devise environments/ situations that engage people in these four stages: navigation, participation, conversation and collaboration
- Welcome technology into devising exercises at its simplest most manageable form, so that it enables the speed of organic creative process
- Test these experiments with demo public audiences throughout the creative process
I’ve found a lot of documentation around artists and works that I admire, though not as many practical exercises as I would like. If anyone out there has any recommendations, please get in contact!
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