Restraint in relation to the site

What is Restraint?

Restraint is described as follows in the Oxford Dictionary,  “1 (often restraints) a measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control:decisions are made within the financial restraints of the budget

  • [mass noun] the action of keeping someone or something under control: a policy of restraint in public spending

    [mass noun] deprivation or restriction of personal liberty or freedom of movement:he remained aggressive and required physical restraint

a device which limits or prevents freedom of movement:car safety restraints

 [mass noun] unemotional, dispassionate, or moderate behaviour; self-control:he urged the protestors to exercise restraint

understatement, especially of artistic expression:with strings and piano, all restraint vanished” ((www.oxforddictionary.com))

 

One of the first tasks carried out as a group was to ask other members of the class to anonymously write down what aspects of their life cages them and why. This was to see whether the restraints were more physical or emotional and whether any of these were possible aspects we could use in our performance. The results were rather shocking and varied and ranged from family and relationship matters, to eating disorders and exam stress. It was interesting to read how even a tiny problem could make a person feel so caged within their own life.

In our performance we wanted to use this idea of restraint as the main body of the piece. In order to do this we had to practice by pushing ourselves to the limit and enduring as much pain as we could so that the reaction that the audience would be seeing was as real as the pain we were feeling rather than just pretending to be in discomfort. As Kira O’Reilly had done in many of her performances, then pain the audience was watching was real life pain, as opposed to theatrical pain, which in my opinion is more effective as it enables you to engage with a performer on a more personal level. For safety reasons, myself and Farisai who were blindfolded and restrained, came up with a safe word in order to let Ellie know when our limit had been reached and we were in fact enduring more pain then we could stand to face. From researching the mental asylum at the Lincoln Archives, it was found that a common method of restraint was to outstretch the patients on a board. For re-enactment purposes and to put our own twist on this method of restraint, it was decided that logs and rocks would be used to hold myself and Farisai in the outstretched positions as oppose to simply using a board as we were then incorporating the objects from the LAwn into the piece.

A Train Journey

 

 

Hayley Moohan says:

Inspiration

Identity:

The motif ‘identity’ was explored throughout our piece. Inspired by Marc Auge who states; ‘subjective attitude toward spaces that may be alienating for the onlooker while being meaningful and a source of identity for the inhabitant’. [1] Relating to Auge’s theory, the space which is alienated in our Site Specific piece is the train station. A space which is referred to as a non-space which is a universal institution. People feel alienated in a train station as they are walking in to the unknown. Is their train going to arrive on time? Who will they sit next to? Will they even get a seat? Relating to identity within a train station, as people are alienated from one another the non-place allows a lack of identity to commence. Thus moves onto my next point about the artist Knowbotiq Macghillie.

Knowbotiq Macghillie:

Macghillie is an artist who explores loss of identity. Macghillie inspired our idea of connecting taking a journey and losing identity. Loss of identity will be shown by covering ourselves with pieces of paper, just as Macghillie did. Our body will be covered in thoughts of those around us, as we become the journey itself. We are lost in the journey of the non-space and lack of identity, like the rest of the people around us. The non-space being a place where everyone becomes alienated, an institutional place.

Below are images which show our costumes which display neither the traits of an individual nor of a person. The lack of identity allowed people around us to lose their identity on us. As we participated in train journeys and allowed the public to write ideas and thoughts on to our costumes, this allowed us in to their thoughts they had about their journey, trains and travelling.

Journey

site specific 013

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 Images which show one journey where we wore our ‘costumes’ which allowed the public to document their identity onto us.

[1] Emer O’Beirne, ‘MARC AUGÉ’S THEORETICAL EICTIONS’, Romanic Review, 101 (May 2010), pp 445-466, (447).

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Jade Beastall says:

The Feeling of Losing Identity

When we got on the train we asked people to write where they were coming from, going to or an aspect of their journey. In doing this we covered ourselves in the journeys of those around us, losing our own identity. This is inspired by Knowbotiq MacGhillie ‘an actor without identity, transforming past and future into here and now, oscillating between the hyper presence of a mask and visual redundancy’ ((Author and date not mentioned, Interventions, Online: http://rearttheurban.org/info/Knowbotiq.html (accessed 29 Apr 2013).)) When I covered myself in the journeys of other people I felt as though I had lost my identity and I was no longer an individual. My body became an organised archive of journeys, just like the one we will create in our live performance from snack wrappers, newspapers, bottles and train tickets. The two ideas link in a way that show both loss of identity and Jacques Derrida’s archiving, an inspiration explored in another one of our group’s posts.

Implications

There were many implications with getting on the train and filming. I emailed numerous times and rang through to three different customer service representatives. After not receiving a reply after two weeks, the time came to find an alternative. We originally wanted to film professionally, but instead took a personal camera and filmed only ourselves discretely. Obstacles like these are a learning process and give us the chance to use our initiative.

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Jade Fallon says:

The feeling of isolation

During our train journey I could feel people’s eyes on my constantly, no wonder considering the costumes we were wearing. We looked at people having no identity, loosing it. Although that’s the concept which we looked at, inspired by Macghillie, it was interesting to be involuntary  receiving attention from other passengers, making me rem-inis about  how the hysterical woman might have felt.

  Notes

This train journey is were we collected a huge amount of the rubbish, which was situated on the first floor of our performance and was organised in our archive of memories.

trainn post

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train posttt

 Enjoy our video – The audio is part of the train journey that I recorded

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl3JVa8oIqw

Read Me; A reflection on Performance

In our study of the set text ‘Invisible Cities’, I have been studying the subject of graffiti, what it represents to a culture and how it can be seen as a powerful form of expression, rather than merely as a sign of social decline as it is so often portrayed. As part of our final performance piece, our group chose to spend three hours blindfolded, stripped to our underwear, unable to interact with members of the public who were invited in to act as artists, using our body as a canvas. We were then led to our site, the graffiti-covered William-Sinclair warehouse and a small audience watched and filmed us as we explored the site, still blindfolded and forced to rely on our sense of touch.

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My initial experience of the performance was one of becoming accustomed to the loss of my sense of sight. Focussing on a sense of touch and hearing, I found it interesting to note that the members of the public we had invited in found little trouble in dehumanising. Listening to conversations, as performers we were quickly stripped o four names, instead being simply objects upon which they could paint patterns, whether simple or elaborate, or even write small messages, whether to us or to the world in general. Despite this distancing, however, it was also interesting to note that not once were we ever treated as less indelicate or more robust. To the audience we were not statues, even if, in surrendering both some of our modesty and all of our control, we were no longer fully human to a casual viewing.

From the perspective of a performer, the first challenge we faced was to have no interaction with the audience. While the temptation was to talk to people when talked to or about, or simply to indicate that we understand what they wanted when directed, to maintain the illusion of being simple canvases we could not. After a while, this became automatic, though it soon gave rise to another problem, endurance. Since we were to stand for 3 hours, with as little movement as possible, this quickly began to take a toll on our bodies, especially, in my case, my knees, which struggled to continually support my weight without shifting. Despite this, once the performance itself was over I found that my body quickly recovered through some activity, something I had feared may take some time. We had also been prepared to intervene if anyone had tried to draw or write anything too offensive to be shown in public, but I was relieved that this was never an issue, something that shows an interesting restraint in those invited to take part in the activity. It may be interesting to question those who came to take part, to find whether this was simply from a lack of interest in marking someone or something in that way or whether it was because, though we had worked to remove the subconscious awareness of ourselves as performers rather than canvases it was impossible to get someone to fully treat us as such.

Graffiti project 1

After the performance had come to a finish and we were able to remove our blindfolds, it was interesting to note the variation of art that had covered our bodies. Much of the art was similar to that described by Iain Sinclair; ‘Dynamic shapes, with ambitions to achieve a life of their own’ (2010, p.211). The simple geometric patterns that were most favoured by our artists mixed and blended together on our bodies, creating larger and more complex murals that covered full limbs. In this even the artist lost their unique identity, their mark, their art blending into the mixture or messages, marks and paints that we were host to. Taken as a whole, the art and marking with which we were marked begin to express something of the collective conscious of the city, bright colours surrounded by darker tones, complex murals or art sprayed over by geometric patterns and work left half finished to pursue a newer project; all of these show an awareness, whether conscious or sub-conscious, of the chaos of our lives, or their truly random nature. This, not only does graffiti allow to express, it fully encourages, a reflection on society by the artist that is by its nature anonymous, allowing all hidden fears and thoughts to be expressed. That, then, is why it is so often demonised. And that is why it must be treasured.

 

Works Cited

Iain Sinclair (2010) ‘Skating on Thin Eyes: The First Walk’ in Nicolas Whybrow (ed.) Performance and the Contemporary City, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 211-215

 

Monday 15th May: Read Me Graffiti Project

This was the day where we finally implemented our idea involving the graffiti on our bodies. I can’t speak for the others throughout this post but for me the day began very nervously. I was relishing the idea of this task but still unsure and unexpected about how my body would handle it. Our task was to stand still for 3 hours whilst participants were invited to decorate us using spray paint, paint and non-permanent marker pens. We were then navigated to the central focus within my group’s site specific study, the painted warehouse on Firth Road, and then guided ourselves along the side of the warehouse and it’s magnificent art, stopping occasional to pose near art that complimented the art that had been drawn us. We were blindfolded and unable to talk throughout the entire process; this was to ensure that we influenced the participants in no way, to make the circumstances as fair as possible (in the same way that the warehouse is unable to talk to its decorators).  It was possibly the most physically demanding and informative experiences of the course so far and for several reasons.

Layers of Contemporary Culture

An aspect of the ideology of graffiti that my group and I found fascinating was the notion of layers upon layers of contemporary culture being placed onto a surface and in this case the warehouse. An artist would approach a surface and leave their mark, their layer of contemporary culture be it a tag, picture or taunt; then other artists would do the same, on or around the previous layer. This cycle continues and the layers just build up. This was essentially what was being formed on our bodies. Graffiti over graffiti but then it got to a point where I could feel someone creating what they were saying was a masterpiece; they would finish and the tens of minutes later I would hear someone say how amazing a drawing was and how it felt wrong for them to graffiti over it. It was brilliant to hear this diverse range in attitudes to the art that was being created on us. Not only does this aspect compliment the contemporary culture of today but we also become more aesthetically appealing with every layer as the colours and drawings mix.

Personification of the Warehouse

This is the favourite ideology I had taken from that day; the physical feelings I had received that day immediately made me think about how we were a living breathing representation of the warehouse. Blindfolding ourselves meant that we could be one with the warehouse even more as we wouldn’t have a clue what was being drawn/written on us. We were completely at the mercy of the artists in the same way that the warehouse is. The best point of realisation for me was when we were walking along the warehouse with our hands trailing on the wall and feeling the texture of the paint on the metal side of the building. This was because it resembled the texture of our own bodies. All this time of studying the warehouse and I had not once felt the wall of it but the similarity of its texture to ours that day was remarkable.

Celebrate or Neglect? That is the question

Within this section of the post I will comment on how participants chose to celebrate or neglect when decorating us. Whenever a participant approached one of us to begin drawing, an inevitable question always seemed to be beckoned; “What should I draw?” I think both the participant knew that the question was rhetorical but did in fact need to be answered by the participant themselves. To be honest a large majority of the participants chose to celebrate the chance given to them by creating impressive art or merely just use the opportunity to be creative colours. On the removal of the blindfold, my eyes caught the “artwork” which I heard happening as one participant insisted on letting it be known that they were “marking their territory” and “stating her claim” by writing their name several tens of times all over my body. So it appears that this participant took this opportunity to celebrate herself as do many graffiti artists do, hence the existence of “tags”.

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Revisions and ‘Site-Responsive’ Performance

After the Easter break, we began again to discuss the content, style and motifs of our piece about the Gaol at Lincoln Castle. We decided to make it semi-improvisational; as it is essentially a durational performance, with potential to be seen as an installation when viewed together with the pieces other groups are working on, it would be difficult to rigidly plan out sequences of action to extend over the course of a whole afternoon, particularly based in such a small performance space. For the latter reason, we concluded that throughout the afternoon there will only be two of us in the lift at any one time, and as the lift reaches each floor we shall ‘rotate’ which performer allows themselves to be taken out of the environment and bring elements of the piece into the LPAC as a whole. This will create a cyclical effect, with significant impact for us as performers as well as for the participants.

In addition to these decisions, there were several elements of the original plan which we thought it would be best to change. Owing to the possibility of audience discomfort with nudity et cetera, instead of inviting them to write on us and on newspaper covering the lift we shall now install small wooden tablets into the space outside the lift, along with an assortment of keys with which to carve them. We shall also participate in this; it was inspired by a cell door we found at the prison, which had been roughly engraved with names of prisoners and visitors alike. Subsequently, we shall retain the concept of defining identities whilst opening up scope for participation. We also still plan to use items from the inventories, however instead of remaining solely in the lift these will additionally be installed in the spaces outside the doors- predominantly in the corridor leading from Studio X, where many members of the audience will be making their way from another ‘Invisible Cities’ performance. The most striking of these objects will be several nooses, hanging from the ceiling in the corridor, along with pictures that we have taken in the prison chapel. This again allows elements of our performance to be based not just in our chosen space, but to become immersive and spread through the building.

How we define our piece of work is also important. As it is difficult to demonstrate the exact location from which we draw inspiration in such a small space- where it becomes an abstract representation of a general prison environment- it would arguably be more accurate to define it as ‘site-responsive’ (rather than ‘site-specific’) theatre. Indeed, we are ‘responding’ to the emotional and mental environment as well as to literal or physical experience.