Posts Tagged ‘Casey Wells’

Development – The Final Product – Post Performance

12AM 03/05/13 – 12AM 04/05/13

Babel: Lost Words

MASS OBSERVATION

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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Development: The Final Product – Pre-Assessment

In an attempt to humanize the library, Abi Perry, Zara Stobbs and I have chosen to document a whole day of conversation in the library using typewriters to produce the completed publication. To be able to certify a whole day, it would make sense that we endure 24 hours of performance starting from Friday 3rd May at 12:00AM and finish at 12:00AM on Saturday 4th May leaving 30 minutes beforehand from 23:30PM to bind the document together. Since the library opened as a library around the 1920s, we feel that it is appropriate to dress in a style of the ‘1920s secretary’ which include long black skirts, black tights, black shoes, a white long sleeved blouse and a black neck scarf/ribbon. We will then use the scarf to bind the book together which will ultimately embrace our identity too. Our make-up will be minimal and our hair will be gripped tightly with hair pins. We have chosen to be situated on the first floor at the desk on the right as soon as you enter as it will be easily seen, is quite separated from the rest of the library but not so much that no-one will fail to notice us.

The title of our project is called ‘Babel: Lost Words’ plainly because the words spoken within the library are never documented and therefore never found once they have been said. We have chosen to use typewriters to reflect the era of when the library was first opened. They also create beautiful sounds when in use and will impact a quiet space like the library. In addition, it produces a neat document and looks lovely once completed. We are using audio cans to communicate the conversation that is heard from the explorer to the typists who will type as instantly as they hear. We have decided to use a typewriter with one typist sat, one explorer who will walk the library for conversation while the final person rests. This will be rotated every hour so that everyone gets a chance in experiencing every aspect of the performance and things will not get too tedious which should keep our energy levels up. At the end of the process the booklet which we will have tied together will be then left in the library in the History section to show that we have made new history within the Library. We also plan to place a video camera on the desk watching the typists throughout the performance which will capture the changes between people and their tasks. Sometime after the performance we will edit the video recording by quickening it up and having it as our creative document of what we have succeeded.

While we document the library’s conversation, there will be an audio recording downstairs in the foyer of the library of a beating heart that signifies the living library. This will begin at the 12th hour and then the final performance aspect will be a projection of the human heart made up anatomical and emotional words (that build a person) on the front of the library which will begin at the 20th hour. By starting the three various aspects at different times we want to show the library coming to life section by section. By starting from the inside and working our way out, we are developing its living process therefore near to the end of the 24 hours we will have, even if it is just for an hour or so, a complete living library.

Posted: April 2nd, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Library, Performance Art
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Development: Audio and the Typewriter

Our long line of ideas has been developed and whittled down to just three sections. We had obviously decided on constructing a document which recognised the conversation within the library in one whole day and we had solidified our idea of projection onto the library’s exterior. Mutually we agreed on a final performance piece to bind the whole project together. We decided that we had all enjoyed the use of audio however we wanted to find something quite subtle to fit the last section of our performance. We became certain of the sound of a pulsing heart beat, slowly palpitating and eventually quickening its pace so that by the end of the performance it was a normal beating heart. This audio piece would be situated in the foyer of the library so that when people enter they will hear the beating but not so obviously. ‘To produce and receive sound is to be involved in connections that make privacy intensely public and public appearance distinctly personal.’1 Since the library is a public yet very private place, the use of sound, even subtly the beating of a heart will invade the public’s privacy resulting in something personal.

Another development towards the first section concerning documentation of conversation is the idea of using classic typewriters to document. The outcome would be hundreds of paper copies of information that we plan to bind together at the end of the process and place them onto their own shelf in the library, overall, documenting a full day in the Library. Using a typewriter and not a computer or writing manually makes a difference to the project as we want to show how generally we document the past, but what occurs inside the library is unobserved. Also, using a typewriter means that if any mistakes are made, they cannot be undone. On a bigger perspective, life is similar to the typewriter in the sense that when errors arise they cannot be changed, only established and dismissed. Not only had the typewriter a specific and distinctive sound when in use, we had recognised that when the Lincoln Library came into play, it was around the year of 1920 and so the typewriter would have been in full use back then. It has been said that ‘the clacking of the keys, though disturbing to some, helps him get into a rhythm of creation’2 which is one main reason why we think the typewriter is a beautiful element of our performance. It also ‘produces neat and legible writing’3 which is perfect for our document as we want it to be clear and comprehensible.

To receive the conversation in order to document it, we figured that we would have to listen to conversation all over the library to report back to type. The easiest way of doing so would be to split our group of four into two pairs where one pair would type while the other pair would be exploring the library for conversation. Instead of writing down what is heard ready to report back to the typists, it would be more efficient if we were able to get use of audio cans. We could all wear one each so that once the conversation explorer hears anything at all regarding speech they can talk it through to the typist who can type as instantly as she hears. An advantage of the typewriter is that the document will be printed as soon as the page is full of text ‘unlike computers which must be connected to a printer and only prints the project once it is completed.’4 Therefore it is a quicker process and there will be no need to wait around at the end of the project for print outs.

By creating something quite private within a building like the library we are showing ‘the public to be inside a brain in action.’5 By using sound, projection and manual documents, we feel we are uniting people in one building by creating something that they are participating in without even knowing it, which is really quite beautiful.

  1. Lebelle, Brandon. P.IX []
  2. http://www.ehow.com/list_6770805_uses-typewriter.html [accessed on: 19th March 19, 2013] []
  3. http://www.preservearticles.com/201101092875/use-of-typewriters-and-describe-the-electric-typewriter-and-variable-type-machines.html [accessed on: 19th March 2013] []
  4. http://www.ehow.com/list_6770805_uses-typewriter.html [accessed on: 19th March 19, 2013] []
  5. Hirschhorn, Thomas in Claire Bishop. Participation, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006) P. 6 []
Posted: April 1st, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Early Research, Library, Performance Art
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Development: Space, Identity and Projection

To perform within is to ‘conceive the site as something more than a place.’1 The Library is expected to never change, it always has been and always will be a place where endless amount of books exist, silence is expected and formality is assumed. We know that once a place has been worked with in a performative way, it is seen in an entirely different perspective. As a group, we understand that ‘the site of art begins to diverge from the literal space of art.’2 Therefore, it is obvious that the space needs to be explored before we can expect a finished piece. Although the library’s features are pretty much apparent, it is our intention to make the building/place more noticeable.

Everything, including people, objects and places all have an identity, but all identities can be adapted. It is said that the difference between a personality and an identity is that a ‘personality describes qualities [that the] individuals may have but identity requires some element of choice.’3 We know that we cannot give the library a personality, but we can enhance its identity. We had started this project focusing on the term ‘infinity’ and we slowly and unintentionally had wandered away from this idea. In order to bring this notion back, we began to look into books with the word ‘human’ within the title. With this information, we would post these chosen book titles onto a projection which would be shown on the exterior of the library resulting in an idea of flipping what is normally shown on the inside and expressing it outside.  After researching 100+ books, we started to recognise that this would not justify our intention of humanizing the library and so we looked elsewhere for influence.

Books in Library with the word 'human' in the title

Books in Library with the word ‘human’ in the title. Taken by: Casey Wells 14/03/13

Luckily, after many sessions of various ideas, we were collectively inspired by http://www.wefeelfine.org/((Harris, Jonathon and Sep Kamvar, http://www.wefeelfine.org/ [accessed on: 14th March 2013] This site collects all tweets from all over the world and organises it into many graphs. We really enjoyed this idea and thought that we could take note of people’s conversations inside the library and document them somehow. Kath Woodward claims that ‘identities are formed through interaction between people.’4 This relates nicely with why we are co-operating with people in order to form identities.

In relation to wanting to project something onto the exterior of the library, Wes gave us a suggestion of actually projecting an image of the human organs onto the side of the exterior instead of using conversation. This seemed like a lovely idea and would really justify our want to humanize the library as it would give the building a living heart. My group also liked the idea of using words that build a person emotionally and anatomically and so for another development on top of our ideas we began to research these words within books, photographing them and making a note of the titles of the books. We gathered that we could use these words to actually create the heart rather than using an actual image. This would obviously need a lot of research and experimentation and so organising to work with a professional to give us a few ideas would be the next best step.

  1. Kwon, Miwon. One Place After Another ‘Site Specific Art and Locational Identity’ (USA, MIT Press, 2004) P. 30 []
  2. Kwon, Miwon. P. 19 []
  3. Woodward, Kath. Questioning identity: gender, class, ethnicity (London and New York: Routledge, 2008) P. 6 []
  4. Woodward, Kath P. 1 []
Posted: April 1st, 2013
Categories: Babel: Lost Words, Early Research, Library, Performance Art
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Trial and Error: Participation

‘It is not a question of knowing whether this interests you but rather of whether you yourself could become interesting under new conditions of cultural creation.’1

                Exploring participation with audiences in the library was a task Abi Perry, Shauna Dennett, Rebecca Baines and I decided to carry out for some early research as we needed to see if the ideas we had all been discussing would work. We were all interested in working with people and felt like we could create something including the elevators inside the library. Our session involved waiting in the elevator in pairs and when we were joined by other people, we handed them a piece of paper with either the words, ‘HI’, ‘YOU LOOK NICE TODAY’ or ‘CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?’ printed on them and then we photographed them holding the handout. The use of the camera would not only be to capture the moment concerning audience participation but it was also a rehearsal with the use of media to see how it would work if we were to use it again. The work of Company Blast Theory is ‘conceptually, intellectually and emotionally demanding’2 like ‘Can you see me now?’ and ‘I like Frank’ where both performances focus on participating with their audiences. Another Company called Lone Twin produced ‘Ghost Dance’ which is a project that also concentrated on working with audiences through video. Both Companies use audience participation, and in regards to these projects, this could be in order to either portray a message, engage with a variety of people or to bring a community together. After trying out these tasks in the elevators, we attempted them in corridors to see the difference in result, but it did not really give us the result we were hoping for.

We all agreed that as soon as you walk into a library, your identity is dismissed and you are transformed into a number. This number could be represented by your student number, date of birth, age or possibly the position which you entered the library, be it within a minute, day, year etc. This gave us the notion to humanize people within the library and so by giving a handful of people a hand-out message to hold, even just for a moment, they are outstanding against any others in the library. We knew that this would not change everybody’s perceptions and opinions in the library and if this was a project that we would like to expand on then this would be something in which we would focus. However,  it may show countless perspectives on the meaning of the project. I believe that if the idea we have is left open to interpretation, we could end up with an unimaginable result.

looking through the glass

Through the glass Photographed by: Abi Perry Date: 08/02/13

sitting in broken spaces

Can you see me now? Photographed by: Casey Wells Date: 08/02/13


 

  1. Debord, Guy in Claire Bishop, Participation, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006) P. 94 []
  2. http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/bt/about.html [accessed on 14th March 2013] []
Posted: February 12th, 2013
Categories: Early Research
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