Life In, Life Out: Becoming a More Intriguing Performer by Becoming a Better Liver of Life

 

You are in a theater in Chicago, Nairobi, Boise…

You have paid money and have willingly left the house.

You are sitting in a chair that looks like it could be comfortable, but isn’t.

The house lights come to a glow and then you’re left in the dark.

Two hours later the lights come back up and you go home.

In the two hours that you sit in the dark you have experienced emotions and have reflected on your life.

You may have laughed, cried, been angry, or mesmerized.

You are a changed person.

As an artist my job is to fill the two hours, and make you a better person by exercising your empathy or changing your perception. I try to make the world a little bit more magical by portraying the human condition. But how am I supposed to do this if I do not see the world in this beautiful way. During this semester we explored this topic in performance technique. How can your life affect your performance which in turn affects the audience? Continue reading

Advertisements

Playing in Mola

 

This semester I had the pleasure of continuing my work in MoLa. This time in an independent study in which I treated the space a bit like a very technically advanced sandbox. In short, I played. Each session I would walk in with a concept/vision/task and would proceed to try to make it a reality. Each of these tasks I hoped would further my understanding of interactive systems and my comfort with Isadora (a software program created by Mark Coniglio for Troikatronix). My independent study started off with a visit from Mark Coniglio. I attended his workshops and lecture that inspired the use of many of the tools he demonstrated. But instead of talking about him I want to talk about what I did with a beautiful piece of software, a world-class venue, and an amazing staff.

 

How can I make time reverse in real-time? Well you can’t. What you can do is make it reverse in close to real-time. The patch that I created with lots of help from Oded Huberman and Jessica Cavender, recorded short three seconds clips and save them to a file. These clips where then play back backwards while more clips will be recorded. This had the effect of being able to see what you did in reverse about 20 seconds later. It does not feel right to shorten this process into three sentences because it took so long. We faced many problems. First, the timing of the triggers that told the camera the lengths of the clips and when to play the clip.  Our final solution involved minuscule timing shifts and lots of automation. I had hoped that the clips would playback immediately but computer processing times did not allow for anything less than a 20 Second interval between the recording and the product. The final problem that I faced was that the camera I wanted to use was just too good and the processing times became unfeasible. We had the most success when we used the built-in FaceTime camera. All of these problems conquered the patch came out fairly awesome. Continue reading

Last words on a Semester in Intramedia

My semester and now my life has been engulfed by a field I did not know existed a year ago. The field is intermedia, which I define as two or more mediums working together to make a cohesive piece of work. More specifically am interested in the marriage of new media, film, stage craft, theater, and dance (also food).  This semester has made me reconsider how I look at performance and cemented new ideas for me. The field speaks to how I work and think. I am interested in getting the message across by any means possible and when able to present my ideas in more than one way I will do so. This field has also allowed me to realize that I did not have to hyper specialize. I can be a lighting designer/choreographer/new media artist/dramaturge/film maker and each of these fields can work in concert with each other to tell stories. The way I came to these realizations was by simply doing. Over the course this semester we created three works each of them very different.

Our first work was a portrait required to have a digital double. A digital double in its simplest terms is a secondary image of a person. An example of this would be if I set up a camera trained on a person on stage then projected that image on the same stage. In fact, this is exactly what we did. As a co-director of the first piece I played with the idea of self representation on the amount of knowledge we share with the pictures we take. We use pictures from Hana Newfield’s Instagram. Then had her recorded herself telling short storys about each picture. We then made an improve score about the emotions that she was feeling at the time she took the picture. The camera captured this and projected it on the screen. The Instagram photos what project onto a downstage scrim, thinly woven fabric that you can see through but can also be project on. The live feed of Hana dancing was projected onto the screen up stage, thus Hana integrated into the picture. With so many representations of the same event I wanted to create a total understanding of the event.  Steve Dixon’s 2004 article “The Digital Double” influenced our digital double. The live feed of Hana was a double as reflection. She was herself but in two places. I would argue that there was a second double and work, that of Hana’s Instagram which could be seen as an avatar.

Continue reading

The Culmination of Dance Film I

This semester in dance film was a very unique experience. First off there were only three of us. Hence we were able to dive deeply into each of our films and watched a lot of dance film. Also the openness of the class allowed me to Experiment and create limitations. I spend my semester looking for the new, luckily I haven’t done a lot yet so this was simple.

I tried to produce three films that were as different as they possibly could be. My first was limited by the assignment forcing me to use editing to get my points across and allowing me to wonder through the process. Cropping, key framing, and other creative editing used in order to reach the limits of my ides dominated my second film. My last film rebelled against both of these by trying to be as simple as possible. I wanted shots with long durations that told story and did felt more like real-life then art. Each of the works built up a different skill set and a new way of looking at my relationship to dance film.

I’m a little obsessed with film.  It is a truly multimedia platform in which I can make stories that are independent of time and space. More than anything I’ve learned that anything is possible. But I’ve also learned that if you don’t make rules and don’t have plans nothing will happen. My creative juices only activate when they’re pushing up against something. I’m sure some famous person once said something along the lines of, limitation is the impetus for ingenuity. An important part of finding ingenuity is the finding the new and excepting it. As a college student, who thinks they have really good taste, I’m constantly absorbing other peoples work.  Much of my struggle this semester has been releasing judgment and just going for it. This sounds really ridiculous when my final project embodied many of the ideals that the art-world has been rebelling against since the beginning of the 19 century.

Besides learning big life lessons I also learn practical life lessons. Most important of these was, plan! It Is all well and good to treat the process is a journey, but a map and even better yet a GPS is very useful. I forgot this towards the end of this semester and wasted a four-hour shoot. Only after I planed was I able to create a film of any quality.

Dance film shed new light on both films and dance.  I foresee Dance Film II in my future and will be integrating it into my stage work for my senior project.  In the meantime, if you continue reading there is in-depth analysis of my three main dance films of the semester. Continue reading

Gesamtkunstwerk

I am obsessed with this word. First off, I feel really smart and sophisticated when I say it. Secondly it sums up what a perfect show/event is to me. But before I get preachy about serving bread and wine at dance shows lets look at the origin and definition of Gesamtkunstwerk.

Coined by the German philosopher Karl Friedrich Eusebius Trahndorff, Gesamtkunstwerk is most associated with the composer Richard Wagner. Along with being know as an anti-Semite Wagner is known for creating the 16 hour, the Ring Cycle, an opera featuring Norse gods, Rainbow bridges, dwarfs, giant, the iconic Ride of the Valkyries, and a ring.  The term would go on to affect many things including the Ballet Russes, who created shows that featured big names in the art, music, poetry, costume design and dance world in which entire worlds wear created on stage with all parts contributing to the whole.

Gesamtkunstwerk can be translated form the German as “a total work of art”. I think of it as work that uses lots of different mediums, all of which work together to create an experience that is complete.  The best work invites the viewer into a world to simply exist in and not realize that they are viewing performance. This is not to say that self reflective or meta work is bad, but that work in which the viewer is so drawn in that they forget what is real, is what I desire most (this can be done even in shows that are meta). Continue reading