Week 2: First steps into our own invisible cities

Our second session involved the telling of memories and stories, particularly of cities in our case, and why that particular memory has such meaning with us. We did this by passing a ball of wool around from person to person as they shared their particular memory of a place. We created a web of memories and it showed that it is very easy to make emotional attachments to places; however, these sites have multiple meanings to different people.

 

Meaning is the key point here as it encouraged us to think what a place means and why. We explored Carl Lavery’s ‘25 Instructions for performance in cities’ and chose a few exercises he suggested to give to students as a preparation before attempting said ’25 instructions’ to perform around Lincoln. Tasks like “ask a friend to guide you through the city via instructions given on a mobile phone, alternatively; sketch out smell maps, taste maps, audio maps, affective maps and geological maps of the city, or return to the same spot every day for a week and witness what happens there.” (Lavery, 2005, p. 233)

 

Following this study we began to walk around Lincoln, attempting these tasks and modifying a couple for our own experiment. We began by nominating one of our group to give a blindfolded person a set of instructions to guide them through the city so that they could get a feel for the city on a different level; through sound, smell, touch, taste rather than seeing a place which they would already be very familiar with. This allowed us to then document the city on a whole new level and start to acknowledge new layers and fragments to a place that we thought we knew. Lavery expressed that these instructions allowed students “reflect on and share their insights and experiences through performative lectures [or even create] monologues about the place” (Lavery, 2005, p. 233). The information gathered is then used as a source and allows students to see performance as “something that resists categorization, something that is not theatre, not art, not dance, not film. Something, in other words, that allows you to do what you want.” (Lavery, 2005, pp. 233-4).

 

We then investigated the concept of “place” in more detail; documenting what Lincoln Guildhall and Stonebow  meant to the public with results such as; shelter for the homeless, a meeting point, a beautiful piece of architecture, a piece of history and locals commenting that they hadn’t ever really noticed them in detail before as it was just another part of Lincoln. When asking questions about the arches it became clear that sometimes you have to look beyond what is at surface value, every site will have some hidden truths and by exposing these secrets it allows us to see the city or site in a way that we would never have considered before. This links to Italo Calvino’s concept of Invisible cities and might be worth deeper consideration when beginning our search for a site.

 

Lavery, C. (2005), ‘Teaching Performance Studies: 25 instructions for performance in cities’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 25: 3

Map around Lincoln

Idea, Explore and Perform

 1. Source

Inspired by the text;

Gestalten
Gestalten

We were allocated a map of Berlin;

Map of Berlin
Map of Berlin

2. Movement

I then designed a path from one place to another on the map, and by using the map as a guide I wrote out the directions;

Directions
Directions

3. Ones Interpretation

I then took the idea of using directions through movement into the public eye. By using Lincoln town centre to conduct a map of Lincoln through the use of arm movements and direction.

My Mapping of Lincoln – CLICK HERE

4. Site Specific

To relate the map of Lincoln to our performance piece, we went to the train station which is the allocated place of our performance and performed our movement of mapping here.

Venue: Train Station
Venue: Train Station
Following Directions
Following Directions
Exploring our Site through Directions
Exploring our Site through Directions
Map of Lincoln
Map of Lincoln

 

5. Why?

Stimulated by the book Urban Interventions we explored personal projects in public spaces.[1] We did this to explore Lincoln through structured directions which allowed us to explore our specific site, the train station. Relating to our text, Invisible Cities, which explores the descriptions of cities as the vast empire expands, we explored Lincoln, looking at public places you would not ususally go to and look at in detail.[2]

 


[1] Robert Klanten, Urban Interventions (Germany: Die Gestalten Verlag, 2010)

[2] Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (Italy: CPI Group Ltd, 1997)

 

Group Excursion: 31st January 2013

On the 31st January 2013 my colleagues and I decided to have a few hours of exploration; we began exploring but I had another meeting that day so I left the guys, planning to meet back up afterwards. Upon leaving my engagement I set out to try and locate my fellow explorers Martyn and Laura. I began by ringing them up and expecting to be told that they were in a shop in a town centre still; instead Martyn informed me that they had taken a journey in search of a windmill that he had seen previously. With my current location being the LPAC, I had to navigate my way to a windmill which I had not seen once. My initial thoughts when I heard these instructions and began carrying them out were not so much of panic and worry but more bewilderment and annoyance. He had told me on the phone about how they’ve gone on this riveting search for a windmill without my inclusion; I felt I had missed out.

Primarily I had thought I knew where they both were describing so continued walking in the direction of their whereabouts. However the location I thought they were portraying was not where they were. It was when I began failing in locating them that it appeared to me to be a performance, where Martyn and Laura were as us and I unintentionally became them. Their performance consisted of, once gaining my full trust, directing me to their location through phone communication. Due to the lack of effort and consistency from the performers I struggled to find where they were and at this point the trust between the performers and I broke.

This only generated more exasperation on my part which caused me to attempt to ring them without successful results. It was at this time that the novelty wore off and I brought up Google Maps on my phone and typed in Upper Long Keys Road which Martyn had said was their location. In doing this, I had destroyed the performance; If I hadn’t, the performance would still be going but at a very poor standard. From then on it was just a case of walking with help from music playing through my iPod. It is times like this where I realise how much I depend upon technology; basic technology of telephones to get my preliminary instructions and the more advanced technology, GPS and iPods. Without the iPod my journey would have been made more arduous and elongated; furthermore, without the GPS I think I still may have found my destination but after a longer period of time and further irritation.

Documentation and Performance

When does a document become the performance?

“It is assumed that the documentation of the performance event provides both a record of it through which it can be reconstructed” (Philip Auslander, 2006, p.1) and archived to provide evidence of the piece of art. Documentation in reference to a performance is seen as the second forum, as it is there to reinforce what has happened, through photography, film and textual documentation, we view it as the follow up source to refer to, as viewing the performance will be the primary action. A documentation can also be embedded within a performance as seen in Merry Crisis-mas (from Athens) (Myrto Tsilimpounidi & Aylwyn Walsh, 2012), as through photography, paired with textual phrases, they have created a product which has used documentation to present a lecture performance. It could be seen that the initial performance of this project was the work of the artist and how they got the images in the first place, as their journey through Greece to capture the images they desired was the performance and their presentation of the findings is the documentation. However, if this were so, the overall out come of Merry Crisis-mas would have been the exploration through Greece, not the picture presentation. As the presentation of their findings is what is presented to the audience, doesn’t this mean that the documentation itself has become the performance?
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