Week 12- Blog Submission and Conclusion of Module

This blog has to be submitted on Tuesday 7th may 2013 so between then and now I am planning to proof read as many of my posts and edit them for grammatical errors. It has been an interesting module and one that I have taken a lot from. If I had to give any advice to future students studying this module it would be don’t be afraid to ask questions, if you become lost and are unsure what it is you are meant to be doing make sure you speak to your lecturers because before you know it the exam will be there and you will be panicking. Just keep on top of the blog and readings and ask if you need help and you should be fine.

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Week 11- Final Performance Evaluation

Today was our final performance after ten weeks of research, development and creation the final event was upon us. Looking back of the process of creating our work I personally do believe we have made the most changes to our work. Our piece was a response to Lucy X Exaqua’s marriage to art and an understanding of the laws surrounding marriage to anything other than the opposite sex. Originally the piece was meant to see a young female marry a robot and an exploration of the way to work around the laws that England has in place to make this impossible. However after some further research into the British marriage laws it became very clear that marring anything that isn’t human is impossible as both parties require a birth certificate and proof of residence. So the project moved a corner and became more about looking into ways people can marry the things they love and  preconceptions around marriage, but this image also had its faults and sank with the others. So here we are today with our final piece that explores the ideas of commitment and why when we think of commitment do we assume marriage. Lucy X Exaqua was committed to her art work and that is why she chose to marry it but we also wanted to explore who has the right to determine what we are or are not allowed to be committed to.

Our piece took on a wedding fair style setting with the marriage laws hung from different places around the room and various tables designed to look like stalls. We had four tables one with the original film footage playing of a wedding asking why, when we think of commitment do we think of a wedding. Another displayed a fake cake, rings and photographs prompting the question why do we need all of these objects to feel committed when none of it is a legal requirement. Another had a book on it that asked its audience members to explain what they think a wedding and marriage is and finally the fourth table had a box which asked the audience to write down if they could commit to anything what it would be and post it in the box.

For the performance itself we allowed the audience to enter the room look around the room and fill out the book and box and when we as the artists felt it right we began to read out the book, the commitment confessions and ripping down the laws. The performance was planned to end with the main objects from the performance concealed in a box just like Lucy X Exaqua however this wasn’t what actually happened on the day.

Before I evaluate the negatives of our performance I thought I would look at the positive first. One of the main points that were conveyed to us from the audience were that visually the room at the beginning of the performance was very effective especially the spacing of the tables as this meant that no one felt cramped or struggled to see an object. The number and location of the laws was also commented one as being just enough that everyone had an opportunity to see all of the twelve in the set. I also think that some of the laws surprised some of the members of the audience especially the fact that rings are not necessary by law and only by the couple’s wishes, as on several occasions I spotted different members of the audience reading the laws and then discussing it with other members or looking shocked. The participatory part of the performance was also successful although the audience did have to be shown the objects and their purpose before they made entries into the book, the box and taking pictures.

From one of our lecturers we gathered the feedback that she preferred the start to our piece where she could walk around the space in her own time and struggled to understand the reasoning to the removal of the laws from the space. She explained that she thought the concept was already clear enough from just the instillation that the performance elements  were possibly unnecessarily and didn’t further the piece, on the positive side though she did believe the piece could speak for itself.

Although we did have many positive elements to our performances there were also some negative elements, the first point to be made was an observation made by ourselves that when we started the performance element of the instillation the audience stopped moving around. Upon reflection in most performances that we attend when a practical performance is taking place we do generally stop and observe in a space that feels right for us. We don’t normally walk around with the actors unless prompted by them to do so, so with this point in mind I believe that it was our personal fault that the audience stopped moving around. If we had taken to time to consider more carefully the objective then we may have been able to put some form of speech in place that ensured the audience remained moving.  The second point to be made was although the audience members did fill out the book, they did take pictures and they did reveal who they would commit to, not many of the audience actually took part in these activities. This was due to a lack of time, as the performances had to be completed in a maximum of ten minutes the audience was not given the time necessary for for everyone to take part. If we could revisit this performance I personally think that we should have given more time to this element of the instillation and maybe even removed the element of practical performance.

The last fault in the performance was a human error that affected the ending of the piece. The performance as previously stated was meant to end with us ripping down the laws and packing the key elements in a box, instead the performance ended very abruptly when one of the classroom lights fell from the ceiling. The reason for this was down to miss-communication between group members and human error. The laws for our performance where suspended from thick washing line  that looped around one of the ceiling lights, the rope was meant to be duct taped to the wall so that when pulled it would release and fall down. The problem however occurred when one of the group members actually knotted the rope to the pluming pipe so when pulled by myself it became tight and pulled the lighting fixture down instead. The main question we had to ask ourselves was did the laws even need to be pulled down in the first place or would just placing the objects in the box have been effective on its own.

Looking back over our whole piece, its process to create and perform there are many things I would have done differently. I believe that I should have spoken to one of the lecturers earlier regarding what they actually wanted from us because if we had spoken to them sooner the project may have found its feet much quicker. Having done this it would have given us the chance to show more work in progress and gather the much needed feedback. Although I don’t think I would have changed the archival material as I still find it fascinating and really feel passionate about the end piece I do believe that we should have spent more time discussing how we were going to make the instillation more performative instead of the discussing the location of the laws.  With more planning the lighting accident would have never occurred and we may have discovered that performance was not needed in the instillation at all. I do not regret the material we choose to study for the instillation piece we subsequently produced, I just feel with more time and research the final project could have been far better than it was.

See below for a slide show of the preparation for the event.

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Portfolio Task 9- Short Essay

Question – Choose one theoretical reading and discuss how it has transformed your ideas about performance and archives?

For this question I have decided to look at Philip Auslander’s “the performativity of performance documentation”. The reading looks into the concept of photography as a form of documentation and its reliability within the context of an archive. Auslander explores two different forms of photographs in his reading to try and answer the question of whether a photograph displayed on its own can be classified as an archival source. He also asks us to question these photographs reliability before we engage with them in a performative setting. I have chosen this reading to look at because many of the archival sources I have explore though this blog including  Lucy x, have in some way used one or many photograph as their proof of performance, which has lead me to question how much should be believed.

In Auslander’s reading he reviews two performance’s use of photography to formulate an interesting argument. The performances he looks at are “Shoot” (1971) and “Leap into the void “(1960), Shoot (1971) was a performance piece were an artist paid his friend to shoot him in the arm, initially this performance was designed so that the friend would miss his arm however during the actual event he did shoot the artist. To document this event audience members and fellow artists capture photographs of the shot and the wound caused , these photographs along with an explanation of the event became the archival material. Whereas Leap into the void (1960) saw an artist leap out of a window as photographs were taken by on lookers and land safely in a net below. Yet when the photographs where displayed in their final state the safety net had been digitally removed which leads the audience to wonder whether the original jump was the performance or these new edited photographs are actually the performance. Auslander produced the idea that shoot captured a real event seen by audience members and relived though its photographs, he explains it as “replacing the reality it documents”(p.3) whereas leap into the void made two performance one lost at the moment the performance left the site of shooting and another through the photographs. Yet if it is possible to edit these photographs and no audience member knows any different should we really trust the photographs we find in archives.

With this in mind my group made a creative decision to display a collection of photographs in our piece; alongside other materials however after reading and applying these methodologies to our work even those photographs are of a questionable state. To explain this further our photographs were of a wedding, they are taken at the location where we carried out our filming, they display the correct clothing and props but I personally feel these are not completely true of our performance. This idea is generated because just like leap into the void our photographs are digitally altered, they have been adjusted to remove blemishes, increase the lighting so the day appears perfect and brightened so the wedding dress seems crystal white.  Our photographs are also staged, we never at any point in our filming stood how we are displayed in the photographs and I am then left wondering if these photographs are not an addition to the video but a performance in themselves.

From this reading and many of the others studied through this module I believe I have a clearer understanding of what archival material is and the concerns artists face when choosing to work with this kind of material. I also believe that this module has allowed me to think more carefully when  engaging with any form of theatrical material be it archival or not as unless you have carried out a wide amount of prior research you will never really understand what it is you are working with.

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Week 10 – Final Rehearsals

Today’s lecture was purely dedicated to final rehearsals, gathering final feedback from our lecturers and spending the time wisely to ensure our project was complete and ready for next week. After last week’s interesting feedback session we decided to spend the first twenty minutes discussing what we all took from the session what we felt needed to be changed or clarified and how we would achieve this. From the discussion we decided that the laws needed to be hung up in various areas around the room to ensure that message of the piece  was clear. We also decided that we needed to make the video less of a centrepiece and more of an element with aids to the overall theme of commitment. We just needed to find a way of expressing this fact in a clear manner.

We then had a short conversation with both of our lecturers and together we decided that the best way forward was to create an environment that almost symbolizes a wedding fair. The fair would show the unneeded wedding dress, the photographs which didn’t need to be taken and the fake cake, it would be set out with columns of laws hanging from the ceiling. There would also be a suggestion box which asks if you could commit to anything what it would be, a book that asks you to explain what a wedding is to you and video of a wedding with the question why when we think of commitment do we think of a wedding. For the rest of the lecture we decided to, reprint the laws so that they were bolder to see and on individual pieces of paper, design and decided of the tags for the objects and finally chose the location of the laws.  For an easy way to understand this I have created a floor plan. See below.

floor plan

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Week 9- Practical Development

This session was dedicated to the development of our practical work which is due in two weeks. To start the session we had a very quick catch up on what are our deadlines and the requirements for these assessments. We had two assessments a practical performance of the 30th April and a blog submission of the 7th May.

Practical – This is our work created from archival material that we have collected and responded to, this work should not be initially new or inspired by the archival material but should clearly show the work we collected throughout.

Blog– This should include précis, weekly lesson updates, rehearsal process and further development both practically and theoretically.

We then moved on to looking at our project, the first thing we needed to do was to record the promises and vows. This was completed by using my laptop and the recording and editing software I have.  We decided the vows should be played first and followed by the poem as this allows you as the audience to see and hear the stereotypical formalities of a wedding before the emotional impact are portrayed. To ensure that Lucy’s original project is present in our work we have mixed her wording from the pictures which we transferred to a poem with our own wording mentioned in previous weeks to create an all new poem. The poem reads-

“Oh picture, Oh concept, Oh Love, Oh Cage, Oh picture, Oh paint , Oh Love, Oh Prison,  Oh desperate little picture, Art my little freedom heart, A desperate little love, a heart with no freedom,

Oh painting, Oh sincerity, My Love, My Truth, Oh painting, Oh concept, My Love, Their Laws, Oh creativity, Oh true invitation Together we fight, My true art, My spouse, apart we fall”

We then have made some decisions on entrance music, for these we choose “I would do anything for love” by Meatloaf but the instrumental version as for us we felt this made not only a statement but followed in the design of our piece. We then decided that we wanted all the many important facts of the piece to be in separate boxes and stacked in a tower. Within each box would be an object with a tag indicating its purpose, so to eat, try on and use to take pictures. With these elements agreed upon we then made a to do list for the coming weeks, please see below.

To be done

  1. Birth certificates in box mine and Lucie’s
  2. Giving notices (Lucie is dealing with)
  3. Two more boxes – one with the cake in and one with the rings
  • Three tags – try me on, eat me and oh picture, concept document this day
  • Bring dress on day
  • Invites
  • Speakers for next week

The final part of today’s session was showing of work in progress and as we haven’t gained any feedback from fellow students we made the decision to show our piece. However as we don’t have all the elements for our project we spoke shortly before on how we would present our work and we decided to show only the film and the contents to our box as it is.

Showing our work was an experience that I was not expecting, many of the members of our class became very passionate about the fact Lucie was dressed as a boy and struggled to remain calm to give us the opportunity to fully explain our motives. With this strong passion the feedback we gained from our class members was minimal and unhelpful. So with this in mind our group decided to stay after class to have a private discussion with our lecturers to try and source the reason for this upset. The feedback that we got from our lecturers started as a blur of personal opinions and emotions and then became a calm adult discussion.

The feedback we got from our lecturers in bullet point form was as follows-

  • If Lucie is going to remain in a suit then our reason needs to be expressed far more clearly, our lecturers understand the idea that clothing should not be gender specific and that it’s the viewers own personal assumption she was dressed as a male but we must address from the start that she is a women and not a man.
  • Explain clearly the laws of gay marriage, what is the difference between a civil partnership and a marriage
  • How does Lucy X  and her work relate to this work, where does her work show in the piece.

With all this feedback gathered we are now going to walk away from the project for the day and come back to it with a clear mind another day. Our aims are to clearly explain these facts so that there is no room for miss conception.

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Reading 12- Dixon, S “Digits, Discourse and Documentation: Performance Research and Hypermedia

This reading spoke about a CD-ROM with the footage of a production of Chameleons 2: in dreamtime on it, the CD-ROM allows the viewer to select the chapter they wish to watch or to watch the film the whole way though. The disc also allows the viewer to choose between audio or written commentary on specific scenes. Dixon uses this reading to explain the success of this CD and of this form of multimedia. As this reading looks on at this CD and its possibilities I found myself feeling very distant from the reading as I could not see the functions which this reading spoke of, although there were some photographs to assist with the reading I still did not feel these were enough to fully explain the disk. If I was provided with the CD-ROM then I feel I would have been able to take more away from this reading. I have been left with the consideration of when we place our film on a disk which set up we choose can affect its success but felt this was all I could take away with me.

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Reading 11- Barthes, R., “Camera Lucida”.

This reading was centered on photography and the power of a picture, Barthes starts the reading by explaining the surprises that a photographer has to consider when taking images for a theatrical purpose. The first is “rare” how original is the content, is it something which we could come into contact with on a daily basis. The second is capturing a movement in a moment which painting cannot. The third is ability to capture the finest of details, so for example to moment when a drop of water touches a counter. The fourth is the technique that the artist chooses to use in their photograph and finally the fifth is the luck of finding something unusual.

Barthes then moves on to discussing the punctum and the stadium, these are explained in detail using other photographs as examples. A Punctum is the hidden meaning or details within a photograph, so this could be a badge on the finger of a person in the photograph or the location of a gesture. Whereas the stadium is the clear details that are obvious to everyone who looks at the picture. Barthes explains that for him the Punctum is the most interesting thing about photography as many times the things he discovers are not actually placed there on purpose or for a reason but have become through the picture. As Barthes explains it, the stadium is also coded with meaning or reasoning but the Puctum is not.

In conclusion by reading this reading it has made me very aware of the hidden details in the photographs that were taken for our project. I am now very curious to go back over the picture to see if I could uncover any more information that I myself didn’t know was there.

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A Day of Filming

Today my group and I completed the filming and photo shoot for our project, we choose West Ham Park as our location because of its scenic gardens and walkways. We decided that the film should be a short wedding film for the bridal entrance, to the married couple leaving. To achieve this film we needed to shoot a variety of different shots, these included the following-

  • Bridal entrance- shot from in front stationary and moving with the bride, and from the back stationary and moving with the bride
  • The speaking of the vows and promises
  • The brides’ facial expressions from the vows and promises
  • The giving of the rings
  • The wedding kiss
  • The exit as a married couple walking away, stationary looking on at the couple and following

We also tried filming the couple running to each others arms in various different ways but after viewing the footage this shot did not work for the film and has therefore been cut. With all the footage then collected we moved on to editing the film.
As the film is going to be silent with a backing track playing we did not need to worry with making the film sound correct. So we viewed all the gathered footage and choose the best pieces then cross linked this clips together adding any needed fades. We made a stylistic choice to have the film completely in black and white until the last shot as it symbolizes the very one sided options many people have regarding weddings. The film then fades though the color spectrum almost like a rainbow because for me I thought this leaves the audience with the impressions that no matter for colour, gender or race, love is love and no one should tell us who we can and can’t marry.

With the film complete we also took various wedding portrait shots that can be left in the box for public viewing. Below is a slide show of these same pictures. We decided to complete a stereotypical wedding photo shoot as the ideas behind this wedding is making it as normal as possible. Though looking at these pictures you will see that Lucie remains with her hat off as these images are designed to make a statement and concealing her identity would have the complete opposite effect.

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The day was very enjoyable and leaves us with the task of recording the vows and promises to place over the footage, however for the purpose of class showing we are going to show the footage but with a backing track playing.

For that background track I have found three options that I will run by the other members of the group before showing, and they are-

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Portfolio task 7- Creation of a Documentation Plan

For our final performance we need to structure a plan of how we are going to document the final production. As our production is an instillation and performance you easiest method for this is photography and personal feedback. The plan is to document the creation of the instillation on the morning of the exam, which will be displayed alongside my final evaluation on this subject blog. We also plan to collect feedback from students after the event to understand further the successful elements of our performance and how to develop upon its weaknesses.

We are also going to have a disposable camera used through the instillation performance but these will not be developed. This is because just like in a real wedding many photographs are lost in the moment never to be regained and we to would like to duplicate that experience. The only other way that our performance instillation will be documented is through the lens of our examiners video camera; although not accessible to me it will be another form of proof the event took place.

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Ideas for film shots

As one of our main goals for the film is not to reveal the identity of the bride and groom untill the end of the film we needed some ideas of ways to shoot the filn. To make a start of some ideas I began to look at some music videos although not the same style as our film will be there was three videos which provided some inspiration.

The first was Christina Perri’s music video to ” A Thousand Years”

From this video there are a number of dress shots that I liked framed from her back looking at the length, there was also a shot of her headdress that i liked but being that i am taller then the other members of my group this shot maybe impossible. The shots are at 0:10-15, 1:52-54, 3:14-20 and 4:13 to the end of the video

The next video was Beyoncé’s music video to “Best Thing I Never Had”

From this video there are some more wedding dress shots that I really liked, they show the length without showing her face. The shots I liked are at 2:05-07,  2:14-20 and 2:23-25,

The next video was Taylor Swifts music video to “Love story”

This is your normal girly music video but there are some very nice relationship shots from distance that I really liked from this video, the shots are at 3:05-30

The final film I have found was a fan based music video made by a mother of her daughter to Taylor Swifts “Today was a fairytale”

As this film is made of younger children it is hard to make shots where they look like they are in love without them actually kissing, therefore there are some really nice close shots that make allusions. The shots I liked were at 1:50-2:02 and 2:13-2:25.

These are the shots I have found so far, if I or any of the other members find some more I will upload them.

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