Be it theatre, dance, rap or poetry, performance transports us from one immediate and local reality to another: our senses and imagination the trigger and tether to both. To physically travel or to engage in something new is a similar experience: our bodies, thoughts and sensations are the link; a point of reference and calibration. In turn natural phenomena, landscape and weather: mountains, glaciers, oceans, deserts, volcanoes, geysers, storms, avalanches, thunder and lightning, are both an endless source of sublime artistic (and scientific) inspiration, and are “perfomative” in their own right, with people travelling the globe and re-defining the “Seven Wonders” since the earliest times.
To begin to consider how architecture might respond to the choreography of place and the inter-connection between people on the stage, in the wings, behind the scenes, front of house, and in the audience, we will start by making a spatial record of a specific performance from multiple perspectives; a first experience of the repetition of rehearsal, the craft behind the set, and fantasy of the performance. We need to look, and then to see; we need to tune-in our senses, calibrate our experiences, and find methods of testing, recording, mapping and documenting to capture the physical, environmental, cultural and emotional findings, both as register and instruction for repetition.
Start by finding and choosing a performance to “record”, it may be a performance that is formally or informally staged, deliberate or unintentional, scripted, choreographed, improvised or an observational phenomena. From this choice everything will follow, and you will need to consider and try to capture many things:
- How is the performance is defined? What are the edges and boundaries that make this a performance?
- How is the performance prepared? How is it repeated? How is the audience prepared?
- Where and when does it take place? What are the conditions for success? What is going on around the performance? What is the edge?
- Who or what is the performer? Who or what is the audience?
- What is the history behind the performance, the place, the performers, the audience?
- What is the idea? Who is telling this story?
- What happens during the performance to make it work? And by whom? And what happens afterwards? How long does it take?
- What does it feel like? Look like? smell like? sound like? For audience….for the performer…
- How can you capture the multiple movements, activities and experiences?
Work quickly, don’t try to think too much before starting, instead “think through doing”, working to capture your first thoughts in whatever media is appropriate. To develop your “Recording” you may need to participate in the performance, or to witness it several times. You will need to repeat and refine the process of “Recording” to develop a final “Record”
Lastly consider how your “Record” could both capture the experience AND give instruction to repeat or re-experience the performance: both a record of spatial experience and a score or script; think how the “Record” might be “played” and the process of transformation between the two…
Curiosity and debate are critical, try Pallasmaa “The Eyes of the Skin”, James Corner “The Landscape Imagination” or Peter Brook “The empty space”, as another point of departure…
By “Recording” you will actively interrogate the performance: sketching, photographing, modelling, video, sound recording, research, making and experimenting, to define your personal response to the critical qualities of the performance. The completed “Record” should be crafted: the fabrication itself another response to the act of recording; a register of the “observer” and the “observed”; the city, the place, the landscape; is the “Record” a “performance” in it’s own right?
Materials, Media and Drawing: Any media, material or technique appropriate to best communicate your ideas, the equivalent of 2 x A1 Hybrid sheets + 4 x A1 process/testing sheet
Review: Thursday 1st October, Week 2 On-site in Oxford