Photographs are by Heidrun Löhr unless otherwise stated.

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!


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