Two things: First one is news that I’m working with my fellow cohort member Lindsey Griffith to create videos, maintain, and update the unofficially official Instagram and YouTube channel for Towson’s MFA Theatre program. You will notice that not much information has been added to these places just yet, but a blank page is always a great place to start. Stay tuned for some really great updates from Brecht, Gertrude Stein, and the rest of the cohort!
Second thing is a video of site-specific choreography by Aline David. As I continue to think about site in my own work, I’ve noticed that many examples I’ve found have documented performances specifically for video. This one below is no exception as it utilizes jump cuts and helps situate the audience firmly in a viewing area. Although the intent to video tape is clear, it still feels as though I’ve walked in on something a bit more private, almost as though she’s not performing for the audience but for the space itself.
“What you see is what you see.” —Frank Stella
Since I have been named Towson U’s unofficial “minimalist advisor”, I would be remiss not to at least briefly mention how the Minimalist movement of the 60s started to provide ground work for many future explorations in site-specificity. This can be most clearly seen in Robert Morris work “Untitled“, pictured below. The work consisted of four mirrored cubes that the audience walked around. In this piece Morris was drawing attention to the audience’s body in relation to the work and space, how each interacted with the objects and surroundings. He hoped to “…confuse the interior space of a work with the exterior circumstances of their presentation.” In other words, he wanted to create a sense of feeling both inside and outside of the geometric object being presented to bring into question how audience interaction and awareness of one’s own body influences interpretation and experience. Of this Morris states his goal as “…amplifying the viewers’ continually shifting position while redefining his perception of ‘real space’.”
I wonder if fun house carnival mirror rooms came before or after this.
I’ve been thinking lately about the performative possibilities of walks, especially in the form of tours, as a way to heighten awareness of the seemingly mundane and uncover the true nature of space and place. Artist Richard Long provides an interesting starting point for this. Several of Richard Long’s works are based around his response to environments that he has walked in. Often times, his sculptures are made from found materials taken directly from those environments or by deliberately changing the landscape. A Line Made by Walking is one of his formative pieces beginning to answer questions of impermanence, motion, and relativity that much of his work is concerned with. In a field near his daily commute, he walked forwards and backwards along a line until it became visible adding a performative element to his land art and veering from his usual sculptural works. Richard Long went on to make a series of many, many more walks, which were always made according to some structure such as a geometrical plan, mileage, number of days or something else. He wasn’t responding to historical aspect of place and the structures for the walks he created were arbitrary, creating empty rituals. He would return to the gallery and exhibit photographs, maps, and sculptural works based on these walks, which makes me wonder who was the intended audience and if the performance was end goal or documentation. I’m leaving this link of some criticism of his work because for me it brings up questions of productivity and purpose. Should an artist’s career be dedicated to constantly pushing boundaries or can one hyper-focus on variations of a familiar theme? Is there something to be gained from habitual repetition? The article still brings me back to questions of who these works are intended for as the experience would be much different if he created a line by walking with a group of people. The individuality of the pursuit is a very intriguing aspect.
If you’re in Detroit, you can see his work Stone Line, which is currently exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts in the Contemporary wing.