I have been hugely influenced this week in terms of reaching our goals and final outcome through considering the form of Site Specific Performance, what this means and the unique ideas that can be expressed through this style of performance. I have begun to formulate ideas by viewing the world in a different light, by allowing myself to be free with inspiration that develops from specific sites and the experiences formulated in particular places/spaces at that particular moment in time.
Since the beginning of this module I have viewed space and place in a completely different light through opening my mind and actually taking the time to explore the sites I have found. It is surprising how much we do not notice in our day-to-day lives; so much can be missed and unnoticed unless we take the time to really absorb elements of space, place and time. Certainly my trip to London over the weekend made me realise this, and the importance in which certain spaces can provide.
Through visiting the capital city of London I was drawn to recognise the individuality of the city and to also appreciate that it has its own vibrance; its own language. The way in which the city stands, the impression it creates and the day-to-day livelihood, through people and architecture, are some fragments that contribute and continue to form the city’s identity. Simply walking around different areas of London made me realise a variety of aspects that makes London the way it is today; including the city’s unique history and with that its own story; the architecture and also the cultures that exist within it. These elements of the city together intertwined with many more features piece together to form the identity known as London. London’s main attractions and in particular, sites, dominate the city and indeed the less significant places and spaces, many of which go unnoticed in amongst the hustle and bustle of city life.
Whilst wandering the city I came across both familiar and unfamiliar places by coincidence, each appearing out of nowhere as if they had previously been hidden or invisible to the eye before being seriously noticed and acknowledged. Each offered their own identity and place of recognition/status amongst the architecture and other sites of the magnificent city. It was then when I really believed that I knew very little of the city and spent the remaining hours of the day ‘drifting’ and observing it in a very different light, similar to the exercise seven of Carl Lavery’s 25 Instructions for performance in cities.
I took the time to explore the city after this taking note of each place and space I came across. Most significantly I noticed that the smaller individual places and spaces have huge significance to the city’s language and were not to be ignored as I passed them. By recognising their existence within the city and indeed their concealed existence I was almost retrieving an essence of its identity and placing it back to create a whole. Identity is extremely important and through losing our identity, albeit a fragment or completely, we are losing ourselves. This can also be related to architecture, culture, a city in whole and indeed an individual site; for each element adds to its entirety and without completion the semiotics that give meaning to that place can be fractured or damaged. Grappling with this idea through site specific performance could be very interesting and effective and I intend to keep this in mind throughout the process.
Through the influences of other practitioners and through my own personal experiences and findings I have been able to expand my insight of site specific performance. The introduction to Krzysztof Wodiczko’s site specific performance of Guest and Blast Theory’s Kidnap has allowed me to understand the level and standard of work that has been produced previously, allowing me to open my mind and come to terms with the variation between performances to express intentions and meaning.
Krzysztof Wodiczko uses frosted projections in Guest to mask the identities of the people who can be seen as outlines through the foggy window. He tackles the idea of immigrants and may be suggesting that they can be seen to have little or no identities. This could be at a time in which they are waiting for legal documents to clear and while people recognise their existence within the country. He may be proposing that immigrants are alienated by society or alienated within society as they may be lost within their own identity or struggling to find it.
Interestingly, Krzysztof Wodiczko also shifts this idea with another piece of work; Projections. Wodiczko used images of people within view of the public domain to present the ideas of domestic violence and other situations that society generally shy away from. By placing these images clearly in public spaces by projecting them onto well-known monuments, society are forced to come to terms with the events and situations that happen behind closed doors, making make us realise that these are serious issues and that something needs to happen to prevent them.
On the other hand, Kidnap by Blast Theory manipulates the participators emotions and physiological state through allowing them to be part of this experience where they have complete lack of control. Significantly, the audience here are involved within the performance creating a whole new level of experience and meaning, whilst spectators can view the action online, controlling the situation and experiences of the kidnapped through operating the online cameras and having direct contact with the practitioners. The role reversal of practitioner/artist, spectator and audience is particularly interesting as although there is framework to the piece the outcomes are unknown. There is no set structure to the performance giving the online viewers complete diversity as they make the decisions; they become the active viewer.
The experience most likely made the kidnaped participators question a number of aspects throughout their emotional progression, including elements of their identity and existence within the space. No doubt this piece of site specific work made the volunteers uncomfortable and insecure within the space due to the lack of knowledge of what was occurring, including the fear of being unaware of when they would be released from confinement. The participants are also performers; they add a performative element to the piece but they also experience the action and emotions centring them as an active audience too.
Last Supper, however, by Reckless Sleepers has been recognised as giving ‘voice to the voiceless’. The piece concentrated on the people who were executed on death row and about giving back elements of their identity, this was achieved through the involvement of a meal between artist and audience, remembering the prisoners last supper and their identity. It is the identity of performance, place, space and site that has been a major influence on my work this week.
Emma Govan, H.Nicholson & K. Normington (2007) Making A Performance: Routledge