As part of the Back Loft Experimental Theatre, Summer Shows (Le Cat Salon) run by La Catedral Studios Dublin. I was accepted with a proposal of experimental, Interactive Live /Performance Video to be held in June.
Once your work is sent in proposal form and accepted, whether the work is still only “A work in Progress”, a finished piece or still a complete conceptual piece, “ Still only in me head” one has to radically change gear. You write the date in your diary and you’re committed…
This is both a good and a difficult place to be. You find yourself writing notes on paper at five in the morning as ideas flood in. You research it back and forward through the time line of Performance. Which is very long.
My work has been circulating around BREATH for a while; the basics of life, using the body physically exerting an o2 breath debt. I utilise this material in different scenarios. At times I am in a white forensic suit as one who views the body dead but maybe it’s the live/ dead body simultaneously? A fast glance at our always present fragile existence. I was curious to test myself one step further with my work. I had made Performance art, done Video Performance and had done Live art. This was to be the mixture of all three.
I played with this in our back garden, getting my husband to fire balls at me as I was blindfolded. I did further work on getting audience reaction sounds, made a serious of close ups where I confronted someone with a serious of questions and comments which I then choreographed and made as a video piece on dvd. This was set up on a 15-foot screen in front of a live-seated audience of about 70 people. I could not rehearse it live but had a clear idea of what I wanted to do by practicing in front of the monitor at home.
I am interested in the work of Vito Acconci – a renowned performance artist whose work in the 1970s focused on the body. He used the camera lens from both sides instigating a dialogue between the camera and the body and then again with the audience and the body live. This piece I made was called “Watching Reaction”. I suppose it was a re – enactment of Acconci`s piece “Blind Catching” I was amused at the interest of watching myself fail, with other pieces of performance interspersed with the full face interactive dialogue. It allowed for really interesting interactive possibilities.
On the night of the performance I set up my own camera to document the whole event - so I could potentially make another piece - but my battery ran out. It was shown with other pieces of video art and another piece of interactive video art, all of which were really excellent works. I was near the end of the programme but once my piece was ON I was up on stage and interacting Live.
It was a complete buzz, the bits I had rehearsed went well but it was also really odd to find myself so engrossed in dialogue with the persona (me) on the screen that the me on stage was an animated (Other).
The big face on screen asks me “why am I watching?” I reply “I don’t Know, I find you interesting?” Then the eyes track me as I move around stage left and right, again she asks “why?” It is a FACE Off? as to who is manipulating whom?
It concludes with the screen persona playing the mouth organ. She asks me to play with her so we both play together, It is not musical playing just the sound of breath in and out, shared by both. The harmonica is the recording of the same lungs breathing on screen and lives.
The feedback was good at the end, I am always a bit self conscious about my lack of IT editing skills, but these days I defend it as a certain need of roughness is always needed to portray the fragility the uncertainness and the possibility of failure.
This roughness puts a frisson on my work, which I think, makes it totally unique among the slickness of the art of today.
Working alone and with no funding or assistance I make do. Maybe it’s unacceptable in certain areas to have a camera sound whirring because it’s not a high 3chip wizard, or collecting sound from the camera and showing it as sound on a black screen!! But the end result leaves some resonance with an audience.
I get a thrill if sometimes I meet someone who says I got this or that from that work, I also can take the “I hate your work it is too, sad, badly made, theatrical, romantic, etc”. I will continue to make and do STUFF, We are all performance artists, in that we all have stories and incidents, dreams and nightmares we need to show, explore test, show off a bit or unload. Some of us choose to use it and show it as art. It is only me passing through and leaving a few marks and remarks behind.
Hilary Williams 12.36 pm Wednesday 22nd July 2009.
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