News for January 2013

You say jump. I say how high?

A violation of space can lead people to react in numerous ways and what we achieved today was to test how far we could go in a place where anything theatrical could almost be a taboo. Today we were each given a set of headphones and through them we received specific instructions varying from subtle to obvious. Walking around the library attempting to appear like a typical library student was hard when you were expecting an instruction at any moment, and not knowing what it would be, was almost a rush of willingness to do anything.

Abigail Perry, 31/01/2013

This activity enabled us to forget about the people around us but to instead focus on the space. To inhabit it in a spontaneous and creative way. The reason this is so beneficial to us is due to it’s ‘out there’ style and how we can become so unaware of the real world and simply become absorbed in this new world where we are the people in charge, we can do anything, regardless of what reactions we receive from the public.

As I walked I observed many of the students sitting at computers either working quietly or making idle chit chat to friends or nearby students. I felt like an intruder, like everyone in the library meant to be there where as I was simply there for a complete opposite reason however it is this very part of the task that I liked, being an intruder although the public were aware of me, how could I do this again without being seen or heard, what if I was hidden without hiding?

As Borges himself writes “Man, the imperfect librarian”1 and that we are all librarians of the library. I like to think there is another meaning to the word ‘librarian’, maybe that they can see everything, hear everything and know everything. If the library of Babel is infinite then the knowledge of the librarian is infinite. The library of Babel was filled with “inexhaustible stairways for the traveller and latrines for the seated librarian”2 and from this I am able to get an idea of making the librarian a physical being. If the librarian is ‘man’ and is omniscient (all – knowing) then how could this be presented. The idea I would like to follow is to focus on this librarian and the idea of his intrusion in the library. Reflecting back to my last post I am also curious as to whether I can combine my ideas of recreating an unreadable book with my development into the human librarian.

  1. Borges, J. L (2000) The Library of Babel, New Hampshire: David R. Godine []
  2. Borges, J. L (2000) The Library of Babel, New Hampshire: David R. Godine []
Posted: January 31st, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Borges, Early Research, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
Comments: 1 Comment.


I found Christo and Jean-Claude’s work completely captivating. Their concept revolves around the idea of ‘absence’, by covering something like a building or a coastline, subverting what you think of about the place and miking it seem more desirable.

The idea of their art is to reveal how absence can make objects and places seem more desirable. It is all about social architecture, and how we can take places for granted. There work consists of a lot of different outputs and live interaction. I found a video of the ‘Wrapped Coast’ that actually looks spectacular when completed. I can imagine the beauty of this piece would come from the plastic being manipulated by the coastal wind, making it  an ever changing piece of art that is altered by nature itself.

Wrapped Teichsstag – Christo and Jeanne-claude

Could I do this in the library?
How would peoples’ attitudes change to the books hidden behind paper?

I can imaging it too would be a developing piece of art, especially when ripped and moved by people finding their books.

Word count: 176

Posted: January 31st, 2013
Categories: Art installation, Early Research, Les dames des livres, Uncategorized, Video Research
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Desire paths

A desire path is when a beaten track has been made, differing away from the pavement.  It is an example of people choosing to go against the grain, saving time and reveals how people are conceptually resisting social construction, breaking away from how we are supposed to behave. This idea refers back to last week’s reading, ‘The idea behind the Space Hijackers’ piece was to inhabit the retail outlets and create a promenade performance that considered how the retail chains attempt to construct the experience of shopping’1, it reveals how you are herded and manipulated in commercial space. ‘Situationalists’ reveal the politics of urban spaces by analysing the way we move through space, for example pedestrian crossings in Tokyo. It feels as though people are being organised and herded through the city like someone wants you to behave this way yet it gives you the option to resist. It is described as ‘the moving about that the city multiplies and concentrates makes the city itself an immense social experience of lacking a place’2. This statement clearly depicts how the idea of manipulation in such commercial spaces highlights the fact they are seen as ‘non-places’ that are ‘soulless, alienating spaces which are only of functional value’3. This develops the notion that we all know how to behave in such places as they are common conventions that we all follow.

When performing in studio space, the performance would need to be layered upon as there is a binary relationship between the context of the piece and the performance venue. In a theatre and studio space the audience know the rules and the conventions of theatre and all theatres are the same, conceptually. When site is triangulated the place becomes a space and with this space come your own rules. When using a specific site you have a relationship with the ‘there’ the site you are in. When a performance is specific to a site, it can only happen there as material, gesture and speaking is born out of the place.

What conventions should we break away from in the library?

Word count: 357

Works Cited

Ceteau, M. de (1988) The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press: Berkeley.

Govan, E et al (2007). Making a performance. Routledge: London.

  1. Govan, 2007 p128 []
  2. Certeau, 1988 p103 []
  3. Govan, 2007 p121 []
Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: Early Research, Library
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Totally Spaced Out

Regarding the use of space and occupying a space, Peter Brook wrote that ‘I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage.’1 This supported the discussion that we had in our seminar regarding how a generic theatre is generally just ‘us’ and ‘them’, whereas in site specific it is also ‘there’ as it involves the place and so a relationship is needed. Shakespeare in the park for instance, would be an example of a site-generic piece as the play that would be performed is not specific to the park in which it is performed in. These distinctions are key when it comes to performing as the audience and performer needs to understand that the performance has a relationship with the place otherwise the performance would lose all emotion and soul, and in turn would look rather bizarre.

This early research began with us identifying what behaviours are common to a place. For example in a library taking books from shelves is a common occurrence. And so we progressed from there; using the books, the people, and the shelves as a catalyst to see how we can work with this and incorporate it into our performance (or rather our performance into the space). Identifying the coded pathway that is often found in public places that leads the people in it around, led us to contrast this with the desire path whereby one resists the coded pathway and takes charge of their own route. For example the signs round the library directing people from different floors and constant ‘WAY OUT’ signs allowed us to think of new an innovative ways in which to resist them.

Becoming used to the place of the library and through exploring it, we were constantly discovering more and more creative ways to work with it. Emma Govan et al wrote that ‘in creating a living space or environment within the performance area attention is drawn to the ways in which the place of a building can be turned into a malleable space.’2 This early research was the critical foundation as part of creating our performance as the process of making the ‘place’ a ‘space’ in which to work in, felt very intimate between us as performers, as this personal almost ‘secret’ was something we wanted to keep sacred. And so performing in the place of the library we have ultimately made the transition from ‘place’ to ‘space’.

Word count: 431

  1. Brook, Peter (1968) The Empty Space, London: Penguin, p. 11 []
  2. Govan, Emma and Nicholson, Helen and Katie Normington (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices, Oxon and New York: Routledge. []
Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: Early Research
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Does language make a place?

‘Gradually a thick blanket of moss and lichen coated its fabric in the resulting micro climate. And it took on symbolic significance: through the state-organized process of land requisition and afforestation, it became one of those places in Wales, along with reservoirs and military ranges and open-cast mines, where land disappeared, was ‘disappeared’, and with it too, by implication, language.’1

This wonderful quote by Pearson makes you question, what makes a place a place?

Language creates imagery when we give a place a name, as it can be a way of describing and remembering certain places we have visited or seen.

However, by naming a place do we lose something?

There is the idea that something with no name has more potential compared to a place or object connected to a name. By naming it, it knocks this air of potential down.
When does the linguistic tag knock it down?
By attaching a name it becomes something, even when there is only the skeleton of a place left, like in the initial Pearson quote, there can be no frame work left of a place but the historical context of that place is still alive. By giving a place a name it can differentiate what a place means to a person like a house/home it goes from a space to a place.

It’s not only language that can make you remember a place, your feelings and your senses can make you remember images and memories. This is your sensory, conceptional memory and it is a type of psychological memory/ geography; describing memories through psycho-geographic mapping that are born through lived experience.

Performances can ‘articulate exchanges between the work of art and the places in which its meanings are defined’2. However, ‘in such work place becomes an important element within the artistic encounter and there is recognition that a space is not empty but full of meaning’3.

Every person is different when it comes to memory, as everyone has different triggers that can make them remember an exact place or moment in their life and because of this a performance can give very different meanings to one audience. We must keep thinking back to how small things can effect a ‘site’ especially when in the library.

– We could perform in the Library in the same building but be in a ‘different place’.
– Do we follow the common trends/the traditional linear movements?
– Or do we resist it?
When discussing the observations we saw when on the 3rd floor of the library we liked the idea of stillness, but subvert it to the 1st floor creating the fantastical and extreme in the polar opposite. In the three floors of the library there are elements that people don’t notice like the varied levels of attention. This idea of watching for the performance and the reaction of the people makes the entire concept highly interesting. As it is making the audience question whether they witness the actual reading of a book or a performance of reading a book.

‘In site-specific performance involves an activity, an audience and a place, then creative opportunities reside in the multiple creative articulations of us and them and there.’4.

Ideas after reading Mike Pearson’s chapter on Models and Approaches:

– Urban space being a Non-place
– How space controls our actions and its importance – ideology/functional. (eg like the teacher sitting in the front of the class)
-Why is the library organised like that?
-Is it the most economical way to organise books? And why? (Social convention)
– Expectations and objects of site, the rules to operate with in and for others.
– How we can use the natural architecture of the building and the discovery of Frames.
– How we can develop on experience as it informs the performances, using different angles of perception?

Word count: 649

Works cited

Govan, E et al (2007). Making a performance. Routledge: London.

Kaye, Nick (2000) Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation. Routledge, Great Britain.

Pearson, Mike (2010) Site- Specific Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, Great Britain.


  1. Pearson, 2010 p18-19 []
  2. Kaye, 2000 p1 []
  3. Govan, 2007 p121 []
  4. Pearson, 2010 p19 []
Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: Borges, Early Research, Les dames des livres, Video Research
Comments: No Comments.
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