I am going to give you a brief insight into my Practice in Context project 'Between you , Me and the City'.
As I was constructing this project. I wanted to see if it was possible to collaborate with the public through conversation, what it meant to feel a sense of being a part of a place, and spend my days interacting with strangers in a city. For the purpose of this presentation I will specifically focus on the theoretical discourse of Monika shefchich, moving on to look at the use of human signage in performance and finally I will directly examine the performativity of the project as a whole.
I didn't so much go on a physical journey, I rather went on an emotional one. Therefore this presentation with framed by looking at the developments of the relationship between myself and this sign as it was my only constant companion throughout.
Chapter One - How We Met
It was the conceptual artist Steve Lambert who effectively introduced this sign to me. He had conceived a project where he sat in a park with the sign 'I will talk with anyone about anything'. On his website he encouraged others to make a sing of their own and so continue this idea. He had also given links to people all over the world who had done just that. I was inspired by this passive method of engagement with passers-by. And so this sign came into my life.
Now you may have experienced what it is like when starting a new relationship, the beginning can be unsure unsteady as you start to get to know each other and work out how to be with one another. The moments before you meet with them you may have butter flies your not sure what to say, how to act, or what tow wear. Well this is exactly how I experienced the beginning of our relationship. Each day I would leave my home and go into the city where I had chosen to base my project. I would find a bench or a wall in a fairly populated area and sit for a while, watching the people passing by. I would prepare the area on which i sat - removing the rubbish and leaves - but most importantly I would prepare myself to meet my sign. When ready, I removed the sign from its bag and placed it in front of me. My whole world changed. I was in partnership with the sign and was no longer separated form the world around me.
The geographical context on the city bared little difference ot the project, it was the social context of strangers that became important. Paul Seabright in his book The Company Of Strangers -a natural history of economic life, suggests that Homo Sapiens sapiens (thats us) is the only animal that engages in elaborate task-sharing - the division of labour as it is sometimes known - between genetically unrelated member's of the same species. In Cities, most of the se non-relatives crucial to our survival are complete strangers'. Richard Sennet states that 'A city is a place where people can learn to live with strangers, to enter into the experiences and interests of unfamiliar lives. Sameness stulifies the mind; diversity stimulates and expands it. It was this diversity that I was exploring as I put my project and myself into the hands of strangers.
Chapter Two - The Honeymoon Period
As I sat there, I felt totally vulnerable, and I believe this vulnerability was acknowledged by the passers-by and so I was always approach of openness and positivity. I’m going to congratulate the idea and walked on, others will just come to give me their greetings and walk on. Similarly the performance artist Rita Marcello described the position in her work dancing with strangers. I’ve always felt vulnerable and that has given me, I think, a kind of meeting point with strangers or encounter it was rich and so began a honeymoon period. It was rich with conversations, some inspiring others deeply concerned, but all of them changed my life a little bit. I wanted to examine a collaborative possibility of compensation because so much of the devising of been involved in here is been founded in conversation. Doctors the pieces conflict to spend spy no place like home and between us by following elephants. Although the conversations were helpful to understand each other and also confuse things as people’s meanings of words can differ so much. I came across the art of conversation when we can expect it suggests that used to have a conversation with someone to admit them into a field of worlds are constructed. And this ultimately runs the risk of redefining not only the other, but us as well to give you an example, in conversation with a particular stranger named Jennifer you both have a strong experience of the creation of a world. To begin with it was from a physical proximity we were sat in the middle of a very busy street and so had to sit close together to hear each other as the energy around compressed together like an act of crystallisation. Ruth Little said that theatre for her is life concentrated (. And indeed the dynamics in an office space we were in and time we’ve heard, made us compressor thoughts and ideas together. As we tried to give a representation of ourselves to each other. Within this framework it was on the joining of our words are opinions and ideas were able to collaborate together to create the thinking you are conversation allows us to escape our surroundings or at least our awareness of them as we travel through topics, some personal, some political, some existential.
Quote from my diary always spoke more our island of geographical intricacies formed while words, hillsides formed by our ideas, whilst landscapes formed by concepts. Then when we look back to horizon, though it came from, and people. Still moving
Method I was using for this project was a task-based research process of setting aside in a different place each day within the city was very strict structure and in hindsight I need that in such a large, unfathomable city. Physically it did not allow me to respond to the environment, I found that the responses within the conversations a stranger would bring their own context in my mind and response which others. Many theatre companies is a task-based practice metabolic process and with relation to MPEG or theatre section 60 and forced entertainment Deirdre Heddon. Jane Lilley right that it is the specific nature of task, rules or structure within which the pros and cars that conditions of possible outcomes, and can use to the style of the results and perform. It was the task of going to the each day sitting with my phone allowed freely improvised conversation to her with a stranger. After a couple of weeks the honeymoon period experienced software off, as I found our relationship had become distinctly repetitive.
Chapter 3, The difficult period.
It became almost submerged in all these things into her. Slowly, sometimes due to the sheer amount of interaction, all conversations and ephemeral relationships are meaningless and more people I spoke to the more isolated and became. British Senate writing on a flexible city strangers suggest that people can develop multiple images of their identities, and who they are shifts, depending on whom they are with. I have met so many people images identity has become quite light come. I did not belong to a particular group of people’s sense of social identity was impossible to grasp neither did I belong to a particular place with which to identify. Of course I was in this city but this was an amalgamation of both the different places, and as a whole I find it impossible to identify with. So I was isolated. Ironically my fellow create vinyl decided to use a similar sign for day to try and speak to anyone because he was going through a particularly lonely period with this project. Was due to this I felt the need to to develop the project. I tried recording conversation to then use a text performance ethical reasons I asked the participant if they were happy with this and they were immediately change the conversation turning into an interview format is a total equal conversation. All other ideas I had to develop the project felt unnatural as if I was forcing a change because I was finding it difficult but I decided to continue as was. Next paragraph
Chapter 4 – The difficult period part. 2
as many relationships start to coexist with each other, you become dependent on each other to uphold that part of your identity that admits with the other. It are the sense of isolation I became more and more attached to my sign, one thing was familiar to many. I realise that the project was developing out of my control and the development lay within the relationship between myself and the sign. I become so attached to this time that I realised, to my horror that I was a sign. I hope to find out what it meant to feel part of a place, and I achieved in a very different way than I expected. I was literally part of assessing. I was a sign of the city.
The experience of being assignment was not the most fulfilling to say the least. Relationship site had reduced me to an object stop Derek Thomson said the literary theorists sometimes speak of text isn’t it was disembodied, but of course it isn’t it always shows up attached physical objects. With that in mind I tried to work out what’s on the context was I was working after this development. I looked into the Soviet semiotics and human signage came across an advertising campaign by ING direct bank stop their campaign the attached people to their billboards you were then available to answer questions passers-by had about the bank. Even attach the mountainside of a bus by becoming part of the sign their individuality was reduced to an object Corporation as I sat with my sign I was also an object of myself. I remember Simon Percy Jefferies workshop called puts you on a pedestal, my experience of being put on a pedestal, I felt powerful, but also I felt objectified. Antony Gormley’s work on the fourth plinth one and other ask you to stand for an hour at a time on the plinth in Trafalgar Square. Although this did indeed celebrate our differences also asked the participants to reduce themselves to one meaning to find the one thing they want to be on napkins having a further into the idea of human signage I came across the occupied movement. These people living in the pub the close of the dedicated their lives to their signs. The body should become the sign for their protest. Unlike the protesters or billboards the nature of my sign was apparently ambiguous as many people who approached me and asked me what my story was, some thought I was wanting to talk to a lover of this thought I was a missionary. I realise that my practice was influencing its context to the exchange of stories between myself and knows I did not meet I was interrupting a passers-by imagination is the construct their own narrative about me stuff
Chapter 5 - The Consummation
once I had accepted my new identity and understood this new context I was working, I was able to have a better overall view of the project as a whole. I started thinking about how I fitted amongst all the other street performers. Unless that was my sign I did not feel as though I was a performer, more and more a human installation, was at the point when a stranger joined me on my bench that the performance began and ended and they left me. I was able to evaluate this by watching the people who stood around us as we spoke, making our audience, but when I was on my own people who became to speak with me and walk straight by. In this sense the performance was was facilitated by me of the authorship was held equally between myself and the stranger offer when a larger group performed people didn’t know who decide belong to. In hindsight I realise the collaboration could not only belong in o ur conversation rather than performance of myself in the stranger were creating an improvisation to the passers-by. At one point the stranger took it on himself to play my role and explained the passers-by, acting my parts. At that moment the project belong to him. Looking at all the other street artists who were inhabiting city I found I was always a very strict audience performer relationship began he was only crossed by the audience when giving a monetary donation. Both my performance was totally dependent on the audience willing to become a performer. Once they made a leap across a boundary re-embarked on a one-to-one performance. The conversations often have an intimacy of a one-to-one form and without always a third presents the distant distant audience member, who could any point, performer. Read Abramowitz with her work the officers presentation of a similar idea, I should facilitate an intimate meeting between her and an audience member, whilst awaiting audience stand around them on the outside of the space. As you can see I have chosen to use destruction from my presentation as reflects my experience of these intimate moments crystallised by the energy and the gaze of the people around us. It is not include any objects documentations presentation beyond that of the sign, because the project was about people living and interacting in the present moment, the immediacy of the dialogue between bodies in space, with words the composition of this presentation is therefore development of the project itself rather than a memory of it. You may have noticed I have not mentioned the name of the city that I was practising. That is because I believe it to name the city would then only allows project belong in that city and I was not comparing the city with the city’s I was examining it as a place for a large mass of people with different backgrounds inhabiting a single site, where there is the availability of multiple dimensions of experience – the city as event, or cosmopolitan street life (miles 2007, BP seven). The site through congregational strangers. By naming it I would then give the project specific set of meanings that I would rather not impose on it.
Towards the end of the project myself in the sign had had enough of each other and decided to finish the relationship, we have been through enough together and my research every reached its limit. Yet when the time came to leave the city without two hourly and unnatural, I was just beginning to set up my life. Throughout the project I have been to as many performances as possible and had just started to find my place amongst other practitioners, namely the group are stop and it all and track all the way back to Falmouth seemed ridiculous. But I did and here I am stop which was lucky in the end because I just found collaborated to work on the performance which will be the next stage of this project.
Thank you all for listening.