Development – The Final Product – Post Performance

12AM 03/05/13 – 12AM 04/05/13

Babel: Lost Words


Having completing our final performance in the library, I felt relieved to have drawn a line under our piece but a little sad to have left it behind. My body was exhausted, my emotions mixed and my mind felt as though it was beginning to lose its sanity.

We needed to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for what we were about to experience regarding sleeping, eating and how to handle such a long, solid period of monotonous work. Previous to the performance, it had started to dawn on us how hard of a task that this would be and how much energy, willpower and strength we all needed to get through it. Unfortunately two days previous we had discovered that we could no longer make use of the projection or sound as there would be too many technical difficulties whilst setting up. This was disappointing but we knew the main material in which we had already would be enough for our objectives to succeed.

In order to ethically capture conversation within the library, we understood that we had to inform the building that this 24 hour task was taking place and that those attending the library were notified on arrival that what they say may be recorded for exam purposes.

Photographed by Abigail Perry 03/05/2013

Performance brief
Photographed by Abigail Perry 03/05/2013


Photographed by Abigail Perry 03/05/2013

Performance awareness notice
Photographed by Abigail Perry 03/05/2013

Realising the fact that there were thousands of books surrounding us, we understood that we needed to acknowledge them in our performance. Whilst being the explorer, books that I passed that grabbed my attention, books relating to how I was feeling, were the ones I quoted from. At times of little activity, I would research on the computer these emotions or subjects and again read out particular information for quotation.

By agreeing to personally make no conversation for the duration of 24 hours, this would prevent us from distraction, nevertheless, during the performance, inevitable disruptions could not be avoided, therefore, we realised that conversation between the three of us was expected. This did not in any way affect the end result of the piece as throughout the day, we were constantly typing up conversation without fail and the booklet that is binded as a completed document shows this. Also, isolating ourselves from the audience was not related to our intentions as we wished to create the document including conversations that we were involved in whilst typing. We believe that the majority of the performance exists in the ideas, the concept and the end result and so considering that members of the public approached us throughout the day inquiring about our piece, we felt it natural to converse with them.

Although the most sensible thing to do before the piece is to sleep and eat, my mind had started to set in a frame of excitement, apprehensiveness and focus, meaning that this was the last thing I felt like doing. Whilst one person was sat at the typewriter, another was walking around any floor of their choice picking up conversation and reporting it back to the typist and the final person happened to be taking a break. We stayed at each station for an hour which meant that we were allowed a break every two hours. This was a strong schedule that we attempted to abide by. It gave us focus and determination without any lack of distraction. However, a sudden change of break  room lead us to a diversion in focus which we then regained as shown in the resulted document. Focus was something that we knew we were going to struggle with from the moment we agreed on the performance. In relation to this, the typewriter that we were using started to break down, forcing us to swap to another. The ink ribbons on the second typewriter also had to be changed or adjusted and the batteries on our headsets needed to be swapped and recharged every 6 hours therefore, slowing down the course of action.

I recognised that I had had only two hours of sleep before arriving at the library to begin our performance and after just the first two hours of focus and tight schedule, I had started to feel weak, lethargic and heavy-eyed. This was the moment where I did not know if and how I was going to last until 12AM the next morning. By taking regular breaks every two hours to eat, drink, get some fresh air and rest, I slowly began to pull through. I also figured that when my eyes saw daylight at around 6AM Friday morning my body started to awaken so I believe that my body must have adjusted to the natural light.

As the day continued our focus started to drop and we became demotivated at times in a sense of finding ourselves having conversations with various people. However this did not change the result of our performance because we finished the piece with a 25 paged booklet, whole-punched and carefully binded together with the black ribbon we all wore around our necks throughout. It was great that we were in the same costume as this visually constructed a formal, professional and regimented style/theme. Once we had formally binded our booklet, we, in silence, traveled to the second floor of the library and placed our completed document on the History shelf. This builds a sense that we have now made history within the Library which can be accessed whenever by whoever.

After being excluded from the world for a whole day, the recovery back to normality was a long process. For more than twelve hours after leaving the Library I was still in an abnormal, disorganised and chaotic state of mind. My sleeping pattern had completely changed, I felt sick and was unsure of when to eat and my body could not stop shaking. It felt like my brain wanted to sleep and rest whilst my body intended to stay awake. I can certainly claim that we had gone through something not just mentally challenging but physically challenging too. It also became apparent that we were a team from the moment we started until the moment we finished. It was this sense of solidarity that made the process far more efficient. I have to admit I enjoyed it very much and it opened my eyes to the extent of how far the boundaries of performances can be pushed. It was definitely an experience I will never regret and one I wish to always remember.

Posted: May 8th, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Library
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