Through our process we have worked in a ‘playing’ environment which we have applied four strategies to our praxis: repetition, improvisation, reduction and chance, to help with inspiration and ideas in a similar way to Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards. As Margaret Thompson Drewal explains “Whenever improvisation is a performative strategy in ritual, it places ritual squarely within the domain of the play”, suggesting whenever improvisation is used our human instinct is perform the everyday, which has helped our work to evolve (Schechner, 2013, p.112). Listed below are some examples of workshops which have been influential to our work:
Charades - Started by playing a version of charades; pick an everyday action or chore and apply the strategy on the card.
Card 1 – Take all meaning away from this action
Card 2 – Exaggerate this action by x10
Card 3 – Invert this action
Card 4 – Vocalise this action (without the use of mime)
Card 5 – Use a pair to create this action
Card 6 – Give the audience instructions on how to do this action
The audience would then guess the charade and sometimes this would be obvious (and sometimes not).
The purpose to this activity was to play with the idea of audience participation, alienation of the everyday and the use of instructions on an audience, and their interpretation. To begin with the group felt uncomfortable with trying to think of how to ‘invert the action’, because this went against their preconceptions so initially the results of this exercise were less focused from the actors, quickly, the inversions became less stereotypical and more free of conventional gestures. The actions which could not be guessed by the group were more effective because the actor had to improvise by revising, reducing and repeating the action for the audience to guess. This exercise helped the actors to overcome the semiology and consider the style and beauty of their movement. Therefore if repeating this exercise I would give the actor less of an overloaded stimulus to begin, allowing them to take one part of the body and focus on isolated movement so that the meaning would be less important than the physical action itself. This exercise I devised from the style of Augusto Boal’s workshops with a Fluxus twist, influenced from Brecht’s symphonies which reference inverting an action for example Flute Solo*.
*Further reading and Fluxus workshops, Friedman, K., Smith, O. & Sawchyn, L. (eds.) (2002). the Fluxus Performance Workbook. Retrieved from http://www.deluxxe.com/beat/fluxusworkbook.pdf
Looking at the sound architecture of the space and different objects, we looked at how sound is heard and how the sound can be distorted through different materials. Influenced by the work of Luigi Russolo ‘The Art of Noise’, he suggests the world was once silent and has now become polluted by urban sounds of machinery, his interest in the city is something I have probed to make the actors aware of the noises and surroundings we often ignore (Russolo, 1967, p.4). I the wanted them to consider the over loaded term music; and instead consider the urban noises which Russolo describes as “noise-sound” rather than “musical noise”, he says, “we infinitely get more pleasure imagining combinations of sounds…than listening once more, for instance, to the historic or pastoral symphonies” (Russolo, 1967, p.6). Therefore by doing this exercise this allowed us to consider the “noise-sound” of the space we were in and ideas of “ritualized gestures and sounds” we could apply within the installations (Schechner, 2013, p.52). I hope this exercise will help the actors to involve the natural everyday sounds within their performance when we are at the Round Tower.
This workshop was influenced by my map installation and the idea of a journey, however I also wanted to play with the idea of removing the senses, considering the multiplicity of scores which could be altered simply by removing one of the senses. In pairs one person was blind folded whilst the other led them around a space. The job of the person without the blindfold was to disorientate the blindfolded so that they would not know where they would end up. By alienating the sight, meant the body relied on other senses such as oral, touch and smell (and perhaps taste) to try and recognise the journey and final destination. Also because of the association with the building it was much easier for the blindfolded to distinguish where they were. After both pairs had done this we reflected on the effect of alienating the sight and considered the map of the journey each pair had been on. I then asked the group to draw each of their maps in whatever way they felt best explained the journey they had been taken on.
Russolo, L. (2004). The Art of Noise. M. Tencer (ed.). Retrieved from:http://www.artype.de/Sammlung/pdf/russolo_noise.pdf
Schechner, R. (2013). Performance Studies. S. Brady. (ed.) Oxon: Routledge.
From looking at Maciunas’ Flux Year Boxes I felt it was appropriate to create something similar to show the process and allow for further experience to be had by a spectator after the performance. Therefore I re-brandished the idea to having Flux Performance Boxes, a box per installation, presented in one of the arches of the Round Tower, to create a visual impetus to the installations and also to allow audience participation, as many of these boxes involved instructions and activities for the audience to explore. I think it is important that the relationship with the material and audience is laced with stimuli for thought and these boxes enable this to carry on once the performance is over.
A good example of where the performance is at the audience’s mercy: through elements of choice and chance. The audience members also create the performance through their experience.
I felt it was import to explore the use of music in Fluxus performances, because of the structures and strategies created by George Brecht, Brian Eno and Micheal Nyman, along with Cornelius Cardew, and “idiosyncratic groups” such as the Scratch Orchestra and Portsmouth Sinfonia. All of these composers share the Fluxus ethos of being; “free of narrative and literary structures” (Nyman, 1999 p.xii). Interestingly, the structures often used to influence compositions, are elements which we can apply to our installations:
1. Chance/determination process - often the spectators are involved in an element of choice in performances
2. People process - “performer makes calculations to determine the nature, timing or spacing of sounds”, the composer may only hint towards “temporal areas in which a number of sounds may be made or heard” (Nyman, 1999, p.4).
3. Contextual process - is dependent on unpredictable conditions
4. Repetition process - to create new experience
5. Electronic process - synthesizing compositions
At this stage I feel we need to consider the ‘chance’ element in our piece, how can we involve the audience so that the outcome is determined by them and not preconceived by the actor.
Nyman, M. (1999). Experimental music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Our flyers and publicity have become an integral part of beginning the audience experience of our performance. The flyer is an example of a flux score; the clinical boldness is simplistic and the design gives all the information needed for the performance but presented in a less conventional format to a standard flyer, this plays with the beauty and emphasis of the title. Our social media campaign to spread the word about our performance, through twitter has resulted in us tweeting Oblique Strategies and our own tweets all with #Konform, we felt twitter would be an appropriate medium to use as this is an everyday source of promotion and similar to a blog we are able to tweet regularly about the process of the performance.
To link all of our installations together and create some dramaturgy for the space and the performance my installation will involve creating a map of the site and where the other installations are. This will enable the audience to witness installations on their journey during the performance. And also highlight the performativity of the map Schechner describes; “Interpreting maps this way is to examine map-making “as” performance. Every map not only represents the Earth in a specific way, but also enacts powerful relationships.” (Schechner, 2013, p.42). My map will be drawn repetitively for each audience member, each time this will allow for the inaccuracies in practical issues like scale and positioning to be examined, but also the relationship of the pen paper, lines being drawn in the outside air to be explored. A map is often indeterminate, a theme which runs throughout the Fluxus movement and something deeply rooted in the work of John Cage, I want to play with the element of chance that the audience member may get lost or be unable to find the other installations, and feel emotions of frustration, alienation, anxiety and exploration, the same feelings when navigating around an unknown city (Schechner, 2013, p.44). I imagine the map to resemble the London Underground tube map, with colours and endless lines, reflecting the city, but also the confusion and sense of alienation a tube map often provokes when first glanced at. I also want my map to echo Schechner’s thought that “Everything on a map is named – being “on a map” means achieving status”, even with a map where you cannot identify the area somehow employs a sense of power on the person reading it (Schechner, 2013, p.41).
Throughout the performance to enable to the audience to participate there will be clearly marked areas for the performers ie. marking a chalk box on the ground and labeling it performance space, there will also be blurbs and instructions in some of the installations, so that the audience can be invited to interact and billboards reading “Fluxfest, Street Theatre, FREE” so that people are aware of what’s going on and can choose to experience the work. Similar to the signs in the street art below, I think this is an appropriate way to promote the “Simple, small and cheap” installations that I would use to describe our performance (Kellein, 1995, p.11). Also these signs pay homage to the negation of Art in Art Fluxus promotes and more an everyday ““art for arts sake”” attitude “then by viewing [Fluxus] as a “cipher” standing for something else” (Higgins, 2002, p.103). Along with these structures to the performance art we have also created a series of performance cards which will promote the other installations. These will be handed out to the audience during the performance as a gift, giving the idea of incessancy after the spectator has left the space.
Higgins, H. (2002). Fluxus Experience . California: University of California Press.
Kellein, T. (1995). Fluxus. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.
Schechner, R. (2013). Performance Studies. S. Brady. (ed.) Oxon: Routledge.
With Fluxus the space is important for influencing the work, taking the performativity out of a conventional theatre and repositioning it in an everyday space, to, as Kellein notes, “[break] away from the aesthetic and cultural controls that had been imposed” on art (Kellein, 1995, p. 119). The use of the Round Tower naturally allows for a fresh eye to be exalted on our installations, as I believe this area is a microcosm of Portsmouth as a city. By performing at the Round Tower means the local public will experience this area not only absorbing Fluxus work, but allows for the space to perform, the weathering and history of the buildings to be appreciated and played with in the installations. Without these raw elements the actor would be constrained to the semiology of a conventional performance and theatrical space, which is not what the Postdramatic marries. The space allows for the audience to congregate and watch from no specific auditorium, the arches create natural rooms allowing the audience to view inside but also inviting them to step inside and experience the actor’s installation and the inside of the Round Tower provides an immersive space for the silent disco to involve the audience.
We have planned for the timing of dusk to hit the performance, so that during the duration of the piece the light will fade so that the audience have another experience of the space and with relation to the city this will portray the idea the city never sleeps.
Kellein, T. (1995). Fluxus. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.
The use of the media is something integral to everyday life, “simulated media environments are now so ubiquitous”, therefore it is important we use the media and involve the technologies which enhance the transmittance of mass media within our performance (Gane, 1971, p.103). We want to confine our use of technology to the everyday, through the mobile. The audience will need their smart phones to be able to be involved in several of the installations of the performance. At one installation they will be required to use the phones to text a number which will be written on an object in the space, the audience member will then be able to have a text conversation with the inanimate object. By using anthropomorphism this will allow the everyday object to be separated from its traditional connotations. This idea has come from an exhibition in Bristol where people “were able to spark up conversations with the city, using nothing else but the humble text message function on their mobile phone.” (Watershed, n.d.). This enabled “you to look at your city with fresh eyes, engage with street furniture that might have become commonplace to the point of invisibility, to slow down, reflect…”, which is how I want the actors and the audience to view our performance, with a fresh glance (Watershed, n.d.).
Gane, N. (1971). New Media. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/portsmouth/docDetail.action?docID=10356341
Watershed’s website (2013, November 4). Retrieved from http://www.watershed.co.uk/playablecity/2013/hello-lamp-post/
Our Fluxfest, the term coined by myself to amalgamate traditional ideas of a of Macunias Fluxus Festival or Flux Concert from 1962, shares themes of performance art through the “time-based, and process orientated work of [the] conceptual” everyday. The process to this Fluxfest will be paramount to the performance, as Schechner says “any product is more profoundly in the process, in the action, in the exchange , than in any formally discrete object” (Schechner, 2002, p.159). The actors will create independent auratic art to explore ““Who is this person doing these actions?”” (Schechner, 2002, pp.158-159). Our installations will include: