Saturday, 17 May 2008

Processing and Digesting

Yesterday I tried to put in an order the feedback I got from some emails and from some friendly intruders when they entered my rehearsal space.
So, what I'll do here is write in my own words what I thought they said. This is a great exercise to make sure you really get what other people tell you. Sometimes we understand what we want to understand and some important issues our memory just strikes them out. And then put also some videos/text from them. I would like you to tell me what is wrong or what I have forgotten.
How will I do that?
I will have three questions that I need to reply.
  • How does it function for the audience;
  • What did the people recommend me to do;
  • How do I think of going further; and
  • What did they actually say/ wrote.
Again, I would like you to write me back and give me corrections or addition to what I think you said about the work, on what you recommended to do, on what I think of doing. Thanks. So here we go...

On Virginia's image
  • How did it function?
I think people found it very strong as an image and the fact that I framed it as a part of another performance that had happened in the past, it was very intriguing for the audience as if was questiononing who is the real audience. It put them in a certain mode of looking for the rest of the piece. There was something unattractive and disturbing that made it strong. Giving later the description of Virginia's image it gave another layer to it.
  • What should I do with it ?
I haven't understood if people recommended me that I have to do something, good or bad, with it. I think they gave me their interpretations of the image and allowed me to see it from their eyes so that I have a stronger and deeper understanding of its function.
  • How do I think going further?
I will keep these functions of the image in my mind and let them inform my body awareness whilst performing. One more thing I would like to do, after having seen the video myself is to increase the time of delay in Isadora so that the difference is stronger.
  • What did the people actually say?
Dr Martin Hargreaves commenting Virginia's image

Monica on Virginia's image

Me givin
g some further explanation

Regarding the text of the lecture
  • What was the function or the discussion about it?
I think that this is where I got the most of the (constructive) criticism. In a very very very few words: People felt that it was not strong, it was a bit boring, I was lookin insecure about it, there was no structure. Some others wanted me to to position myself clearly whether in favour or against war.
  • What should I do?
Different suggestions. Some people suggested I should be more free with the text and not be bound by my scripts. In that sense, I could have pictures in front of me and let the conversation go wherever it leads. Another suggestion was to become more secure when delivering the text by working harder on it and really knowing what I am talking about. Another suggestion was to think the timing of the individual components of the lecture so that I dont give more weight to something that I dont want to. I should also try to link it back to Virginia Woolf's primary image otherwise I dont explain what there is in this picture. The pictures of Ernst Friedrich with the huge facial wounds , I should also first people to enjoy their looks and then make them feel guilty with their pervert desires (and I mean that I should sometimes first show the picture and then talk about it so that I dont preempt what they should read. Or at least put them simultaneously).
  • How am I going to go further?
Well actually I am thinking of letting the lecture be more loose. For my next rehearsal I will do the following. I will have all pictures in front of me. Then start speaking in any order. Leaving it live and see where the course of the discussion will take me. Learn by heart 5-6 sentences I really fancy but no script. For that reason, I will have the papers close by me (at least for the beginning) to feel security and refer to them whenever english doesnt come out of my mouth, but I should try avoiding that as much as possible. After doing it 6-7 times I will understand more or less interesting time paths that I am taking. Hopefully there is going to be some sort of repetition in some parts of the lectures. That will help me to start building up a structure but not a script. In that sense I will work the text like a choreographer. It's not going to be a text anymore but a choreography. And the style of it: improvisation. After that I will try to see when do I show the photos? I will try to build a "on the spot" awareness of the timing of the photo in relation to the text. This awarenes should take into consideration the following:
  1. the content of the picture
  2. the composition/light/ colour and artistic strength of the picture
  3. the content of the spoken text
  4. the dynamics of the argumentation
  5. what I need to convey or what affect do I want to create in the audience
  6. the freedom and easyness of my performance (instead of a cubersome work with lots of thinking)
I should also try to refer back to other images I have already spoken about so that I built up a thick net of interrelations that can serve as a basis of my argumentation
  • Here is what the people actually said

Playmobilling the 9/11
Although Deborah, the director of the school in Germany where I am teaching, was physically not present with the other friendly intruders, she sent me an email concerning the video.
  • How did it function?
The contrast between the childlike game and the horror of reality augmented the affect of the experience. Being able to see me manipulating the playmobils and not being always succesful gave the idea of an ugly reality. The voice and the noise of the ambulance has an impact (not really sure what that easy for Deborah but I felt she was intrigued by it). It was understood as both being prerecorded (Debora the ambulance is the only real noise I've put).
  • What should I do with it ?
The idea of the live version being projected on the wall would make it more real. As a suggestion for being able to do all the tricks at the same time (camera, playmobils, script etc) I could strap the camera on my head (although Deb said it as a joke, I am really thinking of it now).
  • How do I think going further?

I think I want to try again the live. I know that the aesthetics of failure (my expression that i will try to explain another time) really work out great, so I am not going to challenge that too much (maybe just be more sure about what I do). I want to see what it means to do it live. I want to rehearse it many times. It might just end up a video again, but I would at least have done a lot of research behind it. I don't really know how I should go further. Maybe just do it again and try to catch up any possibility that might pop up. Sticking the camera on my head is NOT a bad idea.

  • What did Deborah actually say ? (that's easy coz it's an email)

Hey Pavlos, well, I loved your Playmobil video. Wow.. I´m serious. It had a really profound playfulness about it that actually didn´t hit me until half an hour after I watched it and am writing you this mail. Yes a playfulness that wasn´t so obvious in the first moment because I was also concentrating on the connections to the real fotos... which is of course really really facinating and I focused firstly on that connection. I don´t know whether thats what you want to hear or not. I thought it might be interesting for you to at least hear from maybe an outsider who could oneday be sitting in the audience who has never seen the pictures from Viginia Wolf before and who has never read the book that you read. I HAVEN`T so I represent that part of your audience. Well Its now quite emotional, my feelings about the video. Because of the childishness, even seeing your hand come in and pick up a figure that has fallen over..... I love it!! Its such a contrast to the horrific pictures and what actually happened that it also makes those horrific images even stronger. Am I making sense????? Then I thought of you with your loneliness in the room by yourself.... playing.... reflecting.....deciding.... not being able to up... starting over again...... Was that your voice on the film... or a recording of original sounds? I didn´t hear even what language it was... sorry I didn´t have the sound up very loud when I watched it. You know, I think I´m gonna watch it again and see what affect it has on me now... Wait a few minutes... I´ll be right back Deb

[By the way, these days Debora is also passing very difficult times with the preparation of her new piece in Staatstheater Kassel with the school. The piece concerns the gaze and issues of intimacy in relationships. Here is the flyer of the performance ]

Archiving Time

  • What was the function of laser-labeling?

For people it felt now the marking of the border between then and now. It was a device for archiving and documenting history. It has an intersting touch. Although it was not readable what the content of the label was, there was something very important about them. The laser helped the space be dense and materialize.

  • What should I do with it?

I am not quite sure if i felt there was a suggestion on that issue. But I think I might be wrong. In that sense, I take all your readings and interpretations of the "laser-labelling" as an enrichment of my awareness.

  • How do I think of going further?

I think I need to be quicker with the labeling so that the wall gets more dense of red tapes. I need to find a better solution with the laser-pointer since that one last only 40 mins and the batteries cost 3 pounds each time. Besides it looks very very messy. I like messiness but a little bit less to make it clear if not clean.

  • Here is what people actually say

Archiving time by Dr Hargreaves

The written Feedback per person
Below is what I think people wrote on their papers as part of the feedback process. If you have seen all the videos from the presentation day (=Friday) then you will realize that on the last part, I have asked from people to write down their thoughts and reflections. Do check the video because I did a lightful little montage there. Again this is what I think you wrote. Please send me any corrections or additions as appropriate.

Would like me to explain a bit more about the function of captions as a magic tool for interpretation of an image. She would also like to link back to Virginia Woolf in the end especially on how photos make the war feel "real". She was intrigued by the pigheaded image. She loved the room that looked like a playground. She found the throwing of the pictures down to the floor an irreverent movement with strong impact. She loved Sontag's presence. She was not sure of the function of the tags although she liked it.

She found the naked body as a vulnerable position. She wanted to hear my position on war (whether I agree or not). She found the video with the playmobils as a strong and violent act of power against the weak and innocent causing injustice to toys.

He spoke from a more "affect" perspective. He saw the violence, the suffering, people suffering, people not being here and now anymore, he saw the time passing, he saw people looking at suffering. He was lost about what the main interest of the work was. He said that the first image (from Virginia) it fades away.

Had a lost of question: why naked? what is war? what is photography? what is the distinction between them? She found the lecture unorganized and without an underlying concept. She found the space interestingly messy. She seems doubting about the overall.

Like Chris she had a phenomenological approach in her feedback. She saw Sontag's mask as an ugly lady hanging from the wall. She saw a lot of technical equipment and a big mess (she wants it cleaned up). She saw my dick and a pig mask as a strong image. She heard me trying to explain that war might be different from what we have been taught. She didnt concentrate on the pictures shown, the lazer was distracting. She wondered why the bottle and glass if not used. She wasnt sure about the end of the performance and my relationship to the audience (are they classmates or lecturing audience or what? The lecturing needs more rehearsal.

Found the pigheaded image wonderfully intriguing (disturbing and attractice). The contextualization and framing of the image made it even stronger. Sontag served as a totem and refusal of iconicity (I don't know what he means by that... ) He asked whether I need a script or I could go free. He asked whether I need the real photos of the 9/11 running simultaneously with the video (he found it too literal). He found that my description and talk was framing the pictures as if it were a caption to them and it would be great if I could challenge that.

  1. I am sorry about the bottle with water and glass, I wanted to put it on the table and be able to drink about it.
  2. I knew somehow that the space was messy. I tried to put it in an order. I think I still want to. I am not sure. Maybe... At least I am aware of it now. I'll think of it again.
  3. The text... well I have already said I am going to improvise on it. I dont know what comes in the future.
  4. I don't want to say whether I am in favour of War or not. I think it's irrelevant to the lecture. I want to leave it ambivalent, it makes the experience of looking/hearing more shocking.
  5. I want to play more with the timing of showing the pictures in relation to the text. I want to make it more interesting for the audience to make their own thoughts and then me telling/imposing them my own.
  6. I know why I am naked. It's a strong decision. In fact, if you read my article (already published in Pa Spissen and soon in Movement Research Journal), I am nude (because I am dressed up and disguised by my text and role as a lecturer). I am not naked. Other than a reference to Schneeman, I link it to this part of my article where I say that"when nudity is disguised as nakedness" it distorts reality with "the powerful potential to produce severe misreadings of the body". Since my work is about the playing between what is real and not (like captions distort reality, photos make war real, I am not real but pretend I am real etc) I think this element fits in quite strongly. (WOW DID I SAY ALL THAT ???? I need to find a better and easy way to explain this)
  7. I think I need to interlink between images (not so important though that Woolf comes in again, but maybe it is, since it's so strong)
  8. My relationship with the audience is clear. I am having a meta-spectator. Meta in sense that he is staring that something that is supposed to have already been viewed by someone else and so he becomes a spectator of the spectator. He is there to spectate me and also the feelings of the previous spectators, altough he knows that he is the very first one that spectates it. I want him to question the previous spectator, try to understand how he might fell. But since he knows that there has been no other spectator, he questions himself. I want him to be lost in his position. I want him to find his way out. On his own. I am not talking to classmates, I am just addressing whoever is infront of me and pitch it to him/her. Because it's about him or her, judging someone else, who in the end is him or her. So I need to make it approachable to draw them in this game of questioning. I guide them through their emancipation Ritsema and Bel would say.

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