There are cracks and forecasts and predictions of instability. Some say that clouds will save us. Some say the birds will tell us, the palms, the feet, the wind. ‘Sky associated with no immediate change’ explores the hope and futility of predicting the future.
Preparation Methods for Navigation (P.M.N)
i. Separation - Build an elevation mechanism
ii. Alignment - Cultivate your periphery
iii. Cohesion - Dream up methods of becoming
As a cloud passes overhead our gaze is caught by its ever changing form. Its subtlety of movement and steady change speaks of a journey. It holds our attention as we wonder if it has come to the place where it may dissolve itself into water.
Inspired by LOW PROFILE’s DRY RUN Part 5: Procedures for Preparedness (2012) and their presentation on site-responsive performance (2014), this piece examines how a group of three individuals might best prepare themselves for a future event that is yet unknown. In our final stages of university how we must prepare for the future became a central theme of our conversations and acted as a starting point for this process driven performance. Of course we do not know what we are preparing for and this performance explores the very hope and futility tied up in this state of preparation, towards such an unknown future. Using texts of weather forecasting, palmistry and atmospheric and structural measurements, the performance attempts to predict what is coming, asking the question; to what extent does a prediction control the present moment and the path towards its realisation? It is as though the group live on their predictions, it is all they know, it is their sustenance and so they are caught between the constant desire for the future to arrive and the knowledge that it would mean the end, not death, but an end to their life of prediction and preparation.
Inspired by clouds, the overall form and composition of sky associated with no particular change is much like a part of a clouds journey. The piece gradually transforms from one place to another, one movement to the next, just as a cloud shape shifts overhead. It takes the traditional linear structure of a beginning middle and end and deconstructs it so that the piece takes the form of a more complex system of interconnected moments.
‘A living system is a complex system that moves between order and disorder on the edge of chaos’ (Little, 2009)
It is this edge that the piece hangs upon, dangerously close to complete disorder. As the cloud bodes imminent deterioration so too does this complex system. In this sense we are looking for an intimate sensory experience for the audience rather than a cognitive one. Immanent deterioration alongside hope for change, is the sense that runs through the performance both in terms of content, matter, form and physicality.
Clouds ‘help us dream of transformation’, (Bachelard, 1988:185) they are so often seen as beautiful creatures of anything the imagination wishes to perceive, and yet there is a darker side, they carry with them the potential of disastrous rainfall, hurricane and darkness. The metaphor of the cloud that appears towards the end of the piece acts as a metaphor for the instability of prediction, even when the future is upon us it still cannot be determined as to its effect or potential. Even when it seems to arrive the performers can still not see it in the same way, forever separated perception of what it might be or signify.
The piece has several distinct objects. To call them objects is perhaps pre-empting their function as ‘a thing is characterized by a degree of uncertainty; it is a potentiality, whereas an object is conceived in relation to the subject perceiving it.’ (Dechery, 2014:2). The objects purpose is not always clear as their usage and meaning shift throughout, therefore it remains a thing. An example of such a thing is the cello. It follows the movement and feeling of a dying swan, in some sense predicting in some sense controlling its dying, and later it is the bringer of the cloud and the inevitability of the future which is sweet and yet mournful. It mourns of the present, as it brings the future into the space. This is a thing whose meaning is bound up in its complexity.
Similarly in this performance our bodies are ‘things’. This piece toys with the meaning of our movements and relationships, nothing is stable, pairs break off and join again, it is never clear enough to feel a sense of stability. This, for me, mirrors a sense of life. The fluidity of relations under the pressurization of time. Our bodies are things because they always have a sense of potential. Even our voices are manipulated throughout, sometimes recorded, other times live through a microphone and without, always shifting between.
As we play with the dynamics of a group of three, our piece explores what it means to develop a relationship as a group in a particular space. How much can we rely on one another when under pressure, how close to becoming- other can we be? As if becoming-other would somehow make us stronger. The end tells of a separation; each performer is demarcated by their own separated movement yet stand together at the same height. Caught between a flock, a crowd and a friendship the three bodies and inter-relations are a foundation for the piece. The laws of flock movement underpin much of our movements and proximity between the three. Playing with the three core rules; Separation, alignment and cohesion that allow flocks to form and move together. Inspired by They’re mending the great forest highway by Ever House Has a Door, these movements are punctuated by control and definition in an attempt to form them into a second nature.
Ruth little (2009) speaks of the necessity for performance to sit within a pressurised environment. The choice to expose the back wall of the space was to increase the dominance of the space, explose it for its size and weight. Literally speaking the wall can be seen as a dam, a dam with cracks and lines that bare the risk of collapse. It embodies the future that in turn pressurises the present. We allow the space to take on this dominating role, after all the world is so much bigger than us.
We enter the space, we check the space, and we listen and look and feel for any potential hazard on the outside. This in turn pressurises the performance space, turning it into a living site, a site that is acknowledged to be important to all of our safety it has its purpose, it is not simply a vessel that we use to perform within. The space is inside the outside, as we are equally inside that space. It is an ecological literacy that we strive for and acknowledging the ‘beyond’ is important.
Bibliography cited in text.
Bachelard, G. (1988). Air and dreams: An essay on the imagination of movement. Dallas Institute Publications, Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.
Dechery, C. (2014). The Use of Play and things within Forced Entertainment Theatre's shows, Bloody Mess and The world in Pictures. Universite de Nanterre-Paris X.
Every House Has A Door, (2011). They're Mending the Great Forest Highway. [video] Available at: https://vimeo.com/33422006 [Accessed 16 May. 2014].
Little, Ruth., (2009). Body: Language. [Online Video]. 2009. Available from: http://www.sadlerswells.com/page/ screen/64473797001. [Accessed: 22 May 2013].
PROFILE, L. (2012). DRY RUN part 5: Procedures for Preparedness (photo series). [online] We-are-low-profile.com. Available at: http://we-are-low-profile.com/dryrun5-photo-series/ [Accessed 12 May. 2014].
PROFILE, L. (2014). Site responsive performance. [Presentation]. Falmouth University.