Solo Performance Project

This semester I’m in a course titled “Performance Technology.” The course serves as a broad survey of technology used in conjunction with performance as well as a primer on the theoretical constructions that frame the discussion about the use of technology in conjunction with live performance. According the syllabus, “This course will examine the issues surrounding the integration of live performance and digital media. Students will study the work of contemporary practitioners and theorists and experiment with creating their own works of digital performance.” 

The texts that accompany this course are “The Language of New Media” by Lev Manovich, and “Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (2nd Edition)” by Philip Auslander. 

This past week I completed our most recent project, titled “Solo Performance Project.” The assignment guidelines are below:

  • Should be between five and seven minutes in length, unless the piece is nondurational (e.g. the performance is a “space,” an installation, or is triggered by an event) in which case it should be appropriate to experience during a five to seven minute window.
  • Should be an original, devised/created work of your own.  The subject matter (if it has any) can be ANYTHING.
  • Must utilize digital and/or telecommunication technology of some kind as a tangible part of the performance text. Must demonstrate critical or sophisticated use of technology as a medium, with clear thought about its relationship to the subject.
  • No live performers other than yourself, unless you use an audience as participants.
  • Must include some live performance, though this performance need not be corporal.
  • Can either be a completed work or serve as a sample of a hypothetical, larger work.  It might be a sort of performative “treatment,” sample, or work in progress (e.g. “This is five minutes out of an hour-long performance that would…”)  If choose this option, please turn in a written paragraph describing your projected vision of the completed work.  

Here is a video of the work in it’s current form.
Comments and Thoughts:
In conceptualizing this assignment part of the real difficulty was in trying to determine both the subject for commentary and the best media for addressing that issue. If the message is the media, and the media is the message than making a purposeful choice is as much a part of the challenge as the creation and execution of the project. In hindsight, I think I failed this assignment’s call to create a totally original work. I used Auslander’s text. While my intention was that it was framed by the introduction and conclusion of this unknown character living in the “dark,” I wonder if my use of his text was too heavy handed. In all honesty, part of the challenge here was selecting material that felt appropriately matched to the course content that we had discussed up to this point. While I have my own ideas about the nature of liveness and mediated performance, I liked Auslander’s point. The audience determines the liveness of a mediated environment depending on their willingness to define it as “live.”

In some respects I’m compromised here – I really should have composed my own text, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t articulate my thoughts clearly enough to have the intellectual impact that I was looking for. I also elected to learn a new tool / technique for this project, projection mapping, and didn’t adequately anticipate the time that would be needed to learn new methods, composition methods, hardware, and software. 

Tools Used:

Mapping – MadMapper
Audio Recording – Zoom H4n
Projection – Sanyo XGA Projector
Media Generation – Adobe After Effects
Sound Editing – Adobe Audition

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