Photographs are by Heidrun Löhr unless otherwise stated.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A brief note re wind at FAC

Having spent a few hours last night in the wind up here on the hill at FAC, I have been reminded what an annoyance all those wispy bits of hair blowing around in front of my eyes are. For those of you who have hair that blows, it's a good idea to bring a headband or similar as it's a right pain.

STRUT Seed Residency page

Click here for STRUT website

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Info for Dancers - STRUT Seed Residency, November/December 2011 R&D

Hi Bianca, Jess, James and Hellen

I am posting the info you will need here on the blog so you will always know where to find it :)

Please be ready to begin at the start times - arrive early if you need time to relax etc.

7-9pm Wednesday 23 November
Q&A at Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC)

10am-10pm Tuesday 29 November
Hellen will join Adelina, Simon and I at some stage

4:30pm to 10pm Thursday 1 November
Training, research, practice etc
Hellen will be late

4:30pm to 10pm Sunday 4 Dec
Training, research, practice etc

2 to 10pm Monday 5 Dec (showing from 8pm)
Preparation for showing
James will be arriving late and will make up this time on another day


  • warm clothes (it can be very cold and windy up at FAC on the hill at night).
  • white or light-coloured clothes to work in projection environments (from casual to 'dressed'). Bring a couple of different options if you can. Please let me know asap if this will be a problem.
  • Water in a bottle.
  • Hat, sunscreen etc for outdoor work in the day.
  • Head torch (if you have one).
  • Comfortable clothes for training.
  • Notebook etc if you are inclined to want to write things down.
We will be having half-hour breaks where I will be providing food as this is the easiest, cheapest, quickest option. If you have any particular requirements let me know asap. If you are the type of person who needs to snack, please bring your own.

We will be presenting a showing of our process on Monday 5 December. The way we will be working around the building means that we will have to limit our audience. Also, I am not keen on inviting a huge amount of people at this point as the work is in a vulnerable stage of development. That said, I am more than happy for you all to invite people who you would like to see the work or your work in this context. Please do so by email and either give me a list in person or send a list through to myself and Jo Pickup so we can give priority to these people. I would love to be more open about inviting people, but due to the many constraints of the working process we can not this time.

I am intending to make an A4 program with notes and information about the work. I will also be crediting you and the other people who have had a hand in getting the work this far. I apologise for the lack of listing of your names in some of STRUT's emails. I have asked them to include all names in subsequent communications and this is of course fine. At present I don't intend to include biogs (mainly because I don't really have time and energy to chase you all) but if this is particularly important to you I will do it.

Apparently there is trackwork happening on the Freo line over the next few weeks. Please let me know if this will be a problem for you so we can organise lifts etc.

I will try to get some posts up about the process, but I'm not sure if I will have the time. The process is very intensive as we are doing many sessions each day including physical practice, research (at this time we are focussing on different modes of awareness in order to be prepared to respond to the audience and environments), technical development (with projectors etc), and investigations at night with the projections in the architecture. Much much more to be done!!

See you all soon.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Description of Process - The PNG Work

THE LAB (Block 2): Evening Sessions

Over the course of the lab it became more obvious that there are particular things that need to happen in a particular order to introduce the work to new collaborators and also to develop the knowledge and experience of those already within the process.

During the eight days of the lab, collaborators could book themselves in to any number of sessions which created a staggered approach to the research process and processes of learning. Having to negotiate the experiences of people at different levels of knowledge was an interesting and useful experience in determining how the structure of the work can support constant change.

From the work done during the lab, it now seems to me that the strongest understanding and integration into the already evolved structure happens in the following ways:

    This is a discussion between me and the artist(s) being introduced to the work. It involves a very personal account of how the work has come about and also includes discussion of the conceptual bases of the work, the showing of video documentation, reading from a variety of source materials, story telling, illustration of points etc.
    This session serves to give the collaborators and understanding of the breadth and depth of the work and allows people to start to connect with some of the themes and materials in their own ways.
    The session is often conversational and responsive to the questions and interests of the collaborator(s). It also serves to establish trust in the process and in me as the creator of the work.
  2. TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT - Learning the projection equipment and potential for projection environments
    It is important to introduce the practical/technical side of the work immediately so that the collaborators feel that operating and moving projectors has the same level of importance as performing. It also allows the possibilities for changing the projection environments to be more easily incorporated into the scores.
    Projection skills must be developed alongside knowledge and experience of the performance element.
    Doing this work first also provides information about what the environments might look like from an audience perspective - which is very useful knowledge for a performer.
    Each collaborator who wants to potentially 'perform' begins with the 'basic scores' which are a series of building blocks that will provide material for the intermediate and advanced scores. The basic scores allow the performer to fully experience their own embodiment in the environment while not necessarily being fully aware of what is happening around them. The experience of enacting these scores is 'deep' in that the performer is fully immersed without interruption.
    The connection with the built environment (including moving images) comes from the conceptual connection between the scores and the materials (which have been developed during previous research and are largely controlled by me at this stage). This also means the performer is not overloaded or required to activate multiple awarenesses in this early part of the process.
    The responsibility for creating and developing the visual-spatial context for the performers lies with the rest of the group (anyone not 'performing'). At this point collaborators may either take on the role of 'performer' OR 'projectionist'.
    The basic score phase for any collaborator comes to an end when that person reaches a 'crisis point' - a point where they are too 'full'. At this point decision-making within the context of the scores becomes impossible through seeming meaninglessness.
    The basic scores are now fully embodied and able to be accessed at any time by the collaborators which allows the intermediate scores to be focus on expanding the awareness of the collaborators to include the projection environment, other collaborators and audience members. Practically, the scores develop the possibilities for moving between the roles of 'performer' and 'projectionist', being able to quickly (and at will) move in and out of different perforative 'states', and begin developing the possibilities for relating to audience members.
    The advanced scores represent a point of full integration of the collaborator's abilities to respond to the environment, the group and the audience members. The scores are created and controlled by each collaborator and may continue to develop and change during the course of a 'performance' in response to the changing nature of the work as a whole. By this stage the collaborator will be comfortable accessing multiple levels of awareness and be able to make their own decisions within the context of the work. 
    When a collaborator reaches this point, they are able to lead new collaborators through the basic and intermediate scores.
  1. It should be possible to 'perform' the work for a general audience with a group of collaborators some of whom are new to the process (exploring the basic scores) and some of whom have had time to progress further providing a balance is achieved. Without a balance, the aim of the work to respond to the changing environment and audience members would not be achieved.
  2. This is a process that takes TIME and the commitment of PEOPLE. The equation involving people and time seems to strike fear into the hearts of many funders and support bodies in Australia. We can not let this deter us. This IS important work - both at research level and in the eventual shape of an ever-changing 'work' that can be presented.
  3. At present I am the only one who has reached the point of being able to facilitate the development of the work (point 6 in the pedagogic structure). Adelina Larsson has completed her explorations of the basic scores and is now working on intermediate scores. Everyone else is doing amazing work with the basic scores, both as 'performers' and 'projectionists'.
  4. How the pedagogy is expressed (above) may appear hierarchical and imbalanced with regard to power. I will continue to address this issue and will begin by writing a post about it soon.
  5. In many ways this work is my response to being in this world and is also the tangible and 'visible' manifestation of my practice as an artist - the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I do not seek to separate myself or my life from my art or from this process. In this way, for me (as probably for most artists), the work is deeply personal even though it is about collaborating and maintaining a cogent structure collectively. Maybe this is paradoxical?
This text is a 'working document' and the ideas and their expression will continue to change. Your thoughts about the process and descriptions of your experiences are greatly appreciated.

Happy new year to all!


    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Research - 8 Dec

    The PNG Work - Research 8 December from Michelle Outram on Vimeo.

    This was the most difficult evening as we were dealing with the flattest surface while trying to create a 3 dimensional environment using light!!
    The footage is also seriously degraded at this point.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Afternoon Sessions - overview

    While a number of different ideas relating to improvisation were explored in the afternoons, most sessions followed the following structure:
    1. discussion with the group about expectations and responses to previous sessions;
    2. warm up (physical with occasional vocal)
    3. exercises chosen to stimulate the senses, provoke thought and provide building blocks for the rest of the session;
    4. performances; and
    5. structured feedback relating to the performances.
    It is also important to note that feedback took place after each exercise also and forms one of the major learning and group cohesion tools when working in this way.

    Also the final two session in the series were quite distinctive and were structured differently.

    It was important to me (Michelle), as the facilitator, to continually be responsive to the group. This meant I would propose a focus for the session after listening to the thoughts of the group in the initial discussion. I was able to plan some initial exercises during the warm up and then continue to respond throughout the sessions. This approach generally seemed to work well and worked particularly well when the group responded clearly and critically to the exercises.

    At times I was able to step in as a 'participant', but there were times when I was more interested in watching the structure unfold.

    Afternoon Sessions - documentation

    I chose not to visually document the afternoon sessions, though I have written down the things we did and how it all progressed. I will start posting descriptions shortly.
    It would be especially lovely if those of you who were there could write a little bit about the experience - what we did and any thoughts or responses.