Wednesday, 21 May 2008

On representation

Improvisational Technologies a
No, it's not about Forsythe. It's about how to make an improvisation with 121 photos and a text that has no logical structure.

Setting up
I accidentaly found two large white tables in my room. In the beginning I put them aside, but when I saw the amount of all my pictures, I thought, hey this is a nice lab table. I spread them all on the white table.
I didn't know which one to pick up. I couldn't pick any. I was just left numb staring at them.
Then it came to my mind the work of Ibon Aranberri called Politica Hidraulica.

The work features 46 framed aerial photographs, which Aranberri had commissioned. The photographs are printed in various sizes and framed in different colours and forms. The frames and the prints both have a certain retro character. They are then loosely placed on the floor, overlapping one another as if in temporary storage. Aranberri refers to this installation as something that creates a “claustrophobic atmosphere”, and does not try to “rescue memory”. With this form of presentation, he wants to suggest a backstage situation, comparing it with “the storage of an energy company”. It is not the single picture that interests him but rather the large number and exemplary character of the constructions, as well as the accumulation. He is attracted by both their particular “sense of beauty” and the totalitarian idea to shape a “generic landscape”.

I was wondering whether I should just exhibit the picture like that... It is about the amount of the photos. But it is also about the single photo that is able to work in order to shape the ideas grouping these photos, namely caption, interpretation, reality, violence, suffering, spectatorship, revenge, peace, ambivalence, power etc...
I can't take a decision now. The thing is that part of my research is discover the photos that Susan Sontag is talking about. Here they are. My work as an artist now is how to present them. And I think that this would be a great way to present them.
Food for thought for the future. That was just a small hint.

Understanding my weaknesses
Well, you can't improvise without having a vocabulary of movements. And of course everyone can argue in favour or against that, with a plentiful of arguments.
But what I want to say is, that trying to improvise on pictures that I don't really know what they are is almost bound to fail to grasp the level of a specialized lecture on war photography. Improvisation is a step that will come later. For the time being I need to find another strategy.

So I tried to identify what are the ways/strategies to start working on the text deeper.
I made a map of two possible ways and then tried to see their pros/cons.

Here is what I wrote/thought (but it's great if you click on the image also)

Method 1 (the playful way)

  1. Write next to each picture all the elements of it, such as photographer, time, place, caption, Sontag's analysis, other information I find on google.
  2. Do that for all pictures.
  3. Learn everyday 10 pictures by heart.
  4. Everyday make a revision of all pictures studied until that day.
  5. Go back to the table and pick up one picture. Any picture.
  6. Say some of its characteristics. Any characteristic (not all).
  7. Link another picture with this picture because they share characteristics.
  8. Try to identify the pathway I have chosen. Do I link them in certain thematics?
  9. Pick up 2-3 thematics and work harder on them
  10. Revise the steps when you have already done them, I can't predict now what will happen ...
  • learning process will be like a quiz game
  • free floating lecture
  • focused on photos content rather than a certain theory
  • need to learn things by heart
  • very fragmented lecture without a thread of thought/focus
  • demands time in "choreographing" the results of the improvisation
Method 2 (the academic way)
1. Read many articles on war photography
2. Try to identify what the main issues are
3. Write my own article discussing about these issues
4. Try to link photos to each word/paragraph/chapter
5. Read the article.
6. Althought its mine, really try to make it even more mine

  • focuses on theory (--> explains the content of my 'old' performance.
  • has a clear beginning/middle/end
  • needs a lot of reading/time
  • will make the lecture more rigid
  • fear that photos might not be mentioned and that lecture becomes boring

I don't know which method to follow. Yesterday my Athens Log in reached its deadline. Which means I have no access to academic articles anymore. This is a big tragedy for me... I guess method 2 is a bit more difficult now.
But I don't want to exclude it just for that reason. I want the piece to decide on its own what the most appropriate methodology is.
I wonder whether that article (of method 2) could be of any use elsewhere...
What should I do ???? FUCK

An arts philosophical (idiot but important for me ) question
Kate Elswit, lecturer at Laban, some weeks ago had said that my article on nudity/nakedness was a very egoistic one. She could clearly see the amount of research I had done but I never explained anything to my readers.
I guess I am in this situation now. I am right now doing a research. But I don't want to cluster it in 10 mins and present it. I don't understand why I have to present it. The research is for me. I do it for my own sake. I don't care about audiences. I am not doing a research on how to approach audience. Who the f*ck has linked arts with audience? Why do we have to show our work? Why is art a communication? Isn't it creative to work on your own, to find your own paths, to discover new worlds? For me that is creation that is art.
Expressing this knowledge is a show off. Is an assumption that you, or I, are great and can educate the others. Don't give me that shit that you are not interested in educating the other. Once you show something to the other (that has research behind it), you educate him on your research. I am not an educator, instructor, teacher, professor, lecturer, priest, leader, head of state or god.
Now it may sound contradictory that I am putting everyday online this work. And I would agree with you on one hand. Yes, I am showing my work and yes I try to make it interesting for you. But maybe I do that because that's how I was educated by my culture. OR, (and this is what I want to stress) I do it because I am still researching, I am researching with you, I am making no statement about good or bad. You are here to give me feedback, not to learn from me. I learn from you.

My Yes and No Manifesto
(inspired by Yvonne Rainer and Mette Ingvartsen)
No to
teaching/ instructing/ educating/ leading/ forming
No to dissemination of results
No to results
No to reducing your research to 5 pages
No to imposing a certain interpretation of your research

Yes to allowing your research have multiple strands and interpretation
Yes to egoism
Yes, to accumlating knowledge together with other people
Yes, to asking opinions as a means of research

No to spectacle
No to finishing a research
No to encapsulation

Yes to non-sense/illogic
Yes to organizing principles rather than fixed logic systems

No to expression
Yes to methodology and procedures

P.S. This needs redefinition. Anyone wants to help to make it better?

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