Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Reflecting back

So here I am nearly at the end of the first part of the creative process.
I need to reflect on the research process, on the result, on the performance and on the reception of the piece.

A. Research Process
The methodology of this investigative and creative period had a very specific restriction- character. It was a solo process that many times fell over to solipsistic nuances.
Interestingly enough, this solitary method was what I was avoiding many years now because I was afraid of it. Working like that, was a big risk for me far away from my usual paths.
In comparison with my previous works, it proved much easier to work more hours. Practically speaking, I did not have to convince my unpaid dancers to come over for rehearsals. I was the master of my own timetable and as typical example of stressful workaholic this decision proved revelatory. Now, I could work almost 24/7. I didn't have to interrupt my thought and I didn't have to get frustrated with the need for break people might want (I very rarely take a break, but that doesn't mean that I don't get easily distracted).
What proved harder though was the fact that I could not see the work from outside. As I was the performer and the choreographer at the same time, working in the studio and trying to correct myself could only happen on the basis of affect of the experience, which obviously was not enough. Therefore I decided to open this blog almost 1,5 month ago. The idea was playing with my rules as a lawyer. The rule was that noone is allowed in the studio to help me in any way. But that did not mean that I could not ask for the ideas and feedback of friends and colleagues. The blog thus served as a device for opening up my creative process to the public and being able to receive feedback support from a third eye that was able to detach him/herself from the studio research. Indeed, I got a lot of replies of various styles and with completely different ideas to thing about that otherwise would be kept out of my realm of investigation. More than that though, I got moral support and a feeling of still having friends. I have to admit that it was a solitary process, so closed and lonely that it felt like ascetism. And now that I am thinking of it "asceticism" comes from the Greek word "ascecis" which means practice/ excercise. Ascetic is the person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention from all sorts of indulgence.
Writing the blog forced me to research through the very act of writing. The moments when writing is was reflecting in the work and on myself and I was taking decision on how to proceed further. My deliberate decision to begin writing the blog late in the night and finish early in the next morning allowed for some sort of detachment and together with my choice to be as descriptive as possible I managed to maintain an acceptable level of objective criticism which was quintessential for the advancement of the work. Whilst typing, I was thinking, refelcting, diagnosing, conceptualizing, dreaming, programming, speculating, cerebrating, regarding, resolving, remembering, visualizing, guessing, hypothesizing, weighting, concluding, pondering, supposing, envisioning, articulating, deliberating, chewing on, burning my brain cells and so on....
However, in order to keep my readership going on, I had to make decisions on how to present the work and my questions. Different methods included coloring of videos or deviding the work in subparagraphs with a specific title, or sending emails everyday with a casual salute and an introduction to the titles of the subparagraphs, or posting many photos on and so on... Understanding the importance of keeping this blog readable and interesting for the audience, and being aware of the methodologies used to achieve this, has helped to understand the importance in converting the lecture text into a more presentational mode. Since the importance of maintaining the audience was big both for the blog and for the real performance, I realized that even in the very last moment I should revise the text to make sure that it is interesting and captive enough.
Writing the blog on the other hand, proved out to be a fastidious and tiring method. In order to avoid feeling that writing this blog takes precious time from my studio practice, I decided to adopt blogging as a feature of my work. Maybe this is why my work proved out to be so focused on the performativity of the document(ation) and the archiving, indexing of time.
Another aspect of the methodology that has influenced the content of the piece was the fact that I was alone without the help of anyone. As a result, I got so much used to this comfortability of non having a voyeur that I fell in the trap of what I called "masturbation". So lonely was the work that I started finding pleasure in myself with my loneliness, otherwise it would be too painful. In that sense, it proved really difficult for me to open up the performance to the audience and be able to perform something for somebody else. Even today my feedback on the result and the performance is that fact that I need to manage to be aware of my position in relation to the audience. I need to look at them. I need to be aware of them.
I am not sure whether the work would be better without this solipsistic restriction and blogging experience. I guess different. Maybe not so much me, or maybe more me. Who knows...
What I am sure of though is the fact that I am not afraid of this solitary process anymore. In fact, I want to continue working on my own, until I can find some money and pay for some performer to join me. No more frustration with dancers for complaining about their tiredness and my workalcoholism and no more hiding the creative process from the audience. And still in that case, that I do use performers again, I would continue using lots of the elements I have just mentioned as tools for development.
Going to phase B of my research on this piece, I need to find a residence somewhere and continue working on a solitary basis but with some nuances on the participation of the others and of my awareness of the other. I want to see how the work will change if the space is different and the institutional restrictions are different (fucking Laban, I hate its dead criteria). Allow myself to be influenced by the surroundigns and environment more, do the work on my own and critically engage with the other.

B. On the result
Is it different from my first initial idea? Interestingly enough, I don't think it is. Of course my initial idea was very abstract and open to different interpretations, but I think its main core remained the same. I had always in my mind I wanted a performance lecture and I knew how wanted to archive time and make noise.
However, I was not aware why I wanted to do all these things and I was not aware whether my idea was good or bad, would work or not. I needed to try out and find different modes for making the idea succeed. More than that, however, I discovered different theoretical concepts that helped me solidify my intuition and together with the received feedback to focues on specific applications for the realization of the idea.
Trying hard and harder on the same idea. That's what I did. I never abandonned the initial idea. The way to achieve this idea however has changed many time. Take for example my fighting with the text. I have changed more than 10 times the text and the way to deliver it. And the decisions to change the text came as a reply to accomodate in the best possible way my initial concept. Other times it went closer to the concept, other times further away. But I think all of these stages were needed in order to arrive to this one. Experimentation, trial and error. A lot of error, especially with the text. But also with ways to hang the photos, to make their noise, to structure the whole piece.
I am not sure that this is the best format to accomodate the concept. I feel however confident enough to say that from all the other ways I have tried, this seems to be the most suitable one. Even in the very last moment I had to make changes, bigger or smaller. And I guess continuing on, I have to allow such a flexibility although things are starting to solidify now.
What is interesting about the result is that things came together in the very last second. And this is not the fist time that I work like that. I think this is a token of method that always questions product and tries to understand what is the best option. If no panic included, this method is very succesful because it doesn't allow to lose time in recycling what has already been produced but it continues shaping and altering the product in order to make sure that the end product will be the best possible.
I am quite happy with the result. I haven't been able to detach myself from it yet in order to see it more clearly, but I think it is the product of a solipsistic and written-reflective process (as mentioned above). What I would now need to do in the phase B of my creative process is to try to see how a different methodology could re-shape the product in order to be more clear and connected to the initial concept.

C. About the performance
Looking back at the video, I realize that the sensation I had from the piece is different than what I see. And that is maybe because I had never seen myself performing the "end product" before (it's not the "end" but you know what I mean).
I have a lot of remakrs on how to correct the piece.
For the first part (introduction, Virginia) I need to make sure that I will not spend a lot of time in technical changes. It destroys the energy. Maybe I need someone to do these things. Faster changes. I must have lost more thatn 4-5 minutes in total just rearranging the space which is dead time and certainly not at all helpful for the building up of an energy in the audience and captivating its attention.
Whenever I deliver a caption (either on the table or on the tags-wall) I need to deliver the caption calm, clean and aware of my posture, the space, the audience. After that, I can pick up the red tag and move. Not two things at the same time. It gives an uneasy feeling, a person that is stressed. And that would be ok if it were part of my script. But it's not and it doesnt help me. In general, I need to work out my performing qualities. Now that I have seen it, I can understand why I feel stressed. Probably because I have "intruders" in the space. I have gotten used to work on my own. New people in the space make me feel uncomfortable. I have to feel comfortable. It's ok to be social. I have to break the glass separating the audience and me. FUCK it's such a small space even.
Bein neutral is better. Don't put on a smile. It's slimmy it's disgusting and more than that it expresses an interpretation that makes the piece be very literal. The emotional impact of the photo itself is enough. I don't need to use my face to amplify this carnage.
For the singing part (it's a good idea) but I need to really work out on the way I am building up movement. There is something very broken in or breaking of the energy. I don't feel very happy. More than that, I need to work out the timing and the way of accumulation much more. An idea is not enough. It needs work to polish it. Just like with the text. I feel quite succesful with my efforts with the text. Not that the singing is so bad. But a little bit more experimentation on how to move and how to accumulate wouldn't harm. Maybe I could even set it out more. Improv is good but in order to make sure that everytime the work is done the way I want then I should set it out.

C. Reception of the performance
I've heard very good comments about the piece. People felt slowly drawn by the juxtaposition of the photos and they were anticipating what would happen next. Some people told me that although neutral and clean, the piece indeed had a very strong polemical stance without being dictating. Some others told me that the level of research, the hours in the studio, the hard work were not only felt and viewed in the piece but they gave a feeling of high professionalism that was beyond a sheer sharing of research work. I was even told that I am smart. True or not I don't know. I like just transferring the words.
I want to know more and more however how the work (piece and research) was perceived. I want to hear more about their interpretation of the result and the method of the work. I want to hear their feedback.

Some further questions for going further from now on
How did this research work ?
What were the main characteristics of the research ?
What were the advantages and disadvantages of this research method?
What are the links between method and result?
What other methods could I use to arrive at the same result?
What other methods could I use to change the result?
How is the result perceived?
What can be changed in the result?
How can it be changed?
What should not be changed in the result?
How do you correct the performer?
Do you correct the performer?
What is the concept according to an audience member?
Can this perceived concept allow for a different interpretation or is it so strong that no other level of interpretation is accepted?
How does this piece make the audience feel?
How did this research make the blog-readers feel?
How interesting was this research method for blog-readers?
How useful was this research method for the piece?
Could it be easier?
Could it be more difficult?
Was it helpful reflecting?
What other methods I have used that I have not identifies?

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