Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Darkroom @ Duckie 18th October 2008: Part two

demo photo taken and manipulated to reinforce the private nature of the encounters and just simply show idea of the sort of mobile phone photos taken at the start of the piece

performance installation of some of the photogram relics drying pegged up in the laundry room/second darkroom

with the red light on

unluckily, both the darkroom safelight bulbs blew and I only had one spare, simon the duckie producer gave us a torch with a red gel, this added a focused light and uplight some of the photograms to cast a shadow on the wall, happy accident :)

selecting a peg

setting up the lines
stair case bannisters covered in fairy lights where we sat for the conversations

Note: As with all my work, the encounters themselves are not documented and remain true to the private nature of the things shared/divulged. The relics, performances writings including this blog and the rather lovely posts about Lucky Conkers and all by Pogonophile and The Darkroom and the whole Duckie night , as well as from Laura who co-performed, are the documentation so far- do feel free to leave your comments too to help me in future work:)

Some reflections of my own and in conversation with laura;
  • overall, despite not feeling 100% well, this piece felt my best yet, simple, and edited to the basics of human interaction and simple photographic elements. i LOVED the duckie crowd and the site was, i felt perfect for the piece.i LOVED seeing the digital image of the two strangers reflected back off the photogram in the sink. mitch set up the piece extremely well in his leathers and harness, as some of the crowd seemed to really be expecting a gay club darkroom (!), and often laughed in good humour when they realised it was a photographic one! i felt entirely comfortable working with a score as framework but without rehearsed story elements- felt very me and made me think about why i went very much into a very constructed and scripted, (more theatrical, if i'm honest which i don't feel comfortable with) piece for my MA show shed- hmmm needs to be evaluated. [If i went back to shed which I'd very much like to perhaps there are greater possibilities with the participants alone in the shed and elements of chance, passers by in a more natural environment eg allotment? the great thing about duckie was a living breathing site-offering me a truly site-specific response, the sheds i brought into an unnatural environment and invented a narrative for it based on the very concept of sheds rather than the site of a shed. that said, the photogram potted plant garden i did love and all the little cat kitsch elements, is it just to admit it really was just two shows in one? ]
  • conversations and stories. with the previous incarnation of this piece Mitch saw at the LADA EEC Platform i was re-telling the same story about a matchbox that once lived in my pocket as a defining moment leaving childhood behind. i then asked the participant to tell me a story about what was currently in their pocket- this felt odd at the time, unequal exchange, and too rehearsed (in run-throughs of this piece people said my story was 'boring' or 'unreal' so i found myself colouring the story to make it 'more interesting.') the piece at duckie through working with stuff i normally walk round with in my handbag, i found to me a more engaging experience as it felt more real, the object directly triggering the memory as it occured to me in the moment here and now. that said, i did know i had a train ticket to my father's memorial in my purse but i wanted to leave it to the moment of sharing, if i felt it to be right, to choose this item and say what felt natural to me, responding to the direction of the interaction. i also found that if i had the same item in my bag that people were sharing eg wallet, i too got out my item and rummaged through picking out bits and pieces making a connection with our everyday paraphenalia: we don't know one another yet we have lots in common. these interactions given that they were actually between two strangers, felt pretty genuine, sometimes startling, and on the most part, comfortable.
  • two performers/hosts. fleeting overlaps and different experiences. this decision was entirely taken due to the fact that duckie wanted to have 5 minutes per encounter and that the idea i had proposed would be more like 10 minutes. i felt really comfortable in working with laura who knows the piece very well and was also actually quite excited about the idea that a score could be given with a few guidelines and letting the person feel their own way through it in their own encounter. some differences thus occurred, for me i didn't want to have more than one person at a time and laura felt okay with this where it was a couple, so she did this a few times.the other thing that i found very interesting was how much the human connection was of paramount importance to me, actually in the end, over and above getting a high quality photogram image which is something i NEVER thought i would say. and in lauras case, maybe because she knew how my work centered around the act of photography, she found herself repeating photograms where they turned out less effective. repeating actions and/or overlong conversations in the bathroom, meant at times we found ourselves left waiting for too long to get in there with our own participant, a couple of my own conversations were drawn out a little too much as a result and total number of the exchanges (26, with i think, 32 participants) could have been more with use of another bathroom OR how about the office and cashbox developing tray?? loses the seediness of going into a bathroom together though like you get in a club.
  • gender issue- the only females who wanted to come to the darkroom, even if they had a sticker, were a couple of friends/contacts we had invited.
  • use of space overall. this worked really well en route manoeuvring through all the different rooms and bumping into other 'couples' being the other pair in an exchange. i really liked the starting and ending in the thrust of the club, starting off as strangers and then sharing a secret moment to then depart still as strangers, the did that really happen? the sitting on the stairs when they were occupied with another couple added to the mystery and intrigue of the piece. we both liked the knocking on the doors.
  • technical issues. the chemical dilution of the second batch, i think i mixed up wrongly resulting in lengthy exposures. the sink plug leaked water, so i used a universal plug. did we really need to let the solution run away each time? could it just have been kept filled as a processing trough- filled up more for me would have given a more even development as i ended up with tidal marks from a shallow sink. this element i should have tested more.
to the future;
i think this piece has still got legs, which in conversation with mitch, he agreed.
  • find out places to take this piece in an art-club setting, eg bistrotechque, bethnal green working mens club
  • research more score based non-matrixed practices, see actual examples eg tino sehgal, fluxus, happenings, i know they were used but not actually read them
  • practice photo-technical issues more in future sites in a walk through
  • consider how my role in my work may be expanding, what if i have even more performers/hosts/facilitators that i am directing? what do i lose, what do i gain?
AND FINALLY, I was so chuffed that Pogonophile really got the piece although the photographic elements seemd to be less significant, as they had also become to me. Was it obvious the digital image was being erased after its light killed the photogram? And these 2 comments on his blog just made this event for me, particularly as i have never performed in a club before (am excited about how transferable this piece is);

"That's the added ingredient to Duckie, the extra something that takes it from being The Best Club Night Ever to a whole different plane altogether."

"For me, it was probably the best Duckie this year, with music, cabaret and individual interactive art melding into one exciting, affecting whole."

1 comment:

Pogonophile said...

Wow, thanks for writing about me!

I agree with you that the photographic elements weren't that much to the fore in my experience of your Darkroom as a whole. The development process in general interested me (and I thought it being a photographic rather than a sleazy sex darkroom was funny) but I didn't, at the time, appreciate that it was the "dying" digital image from the camera 'phone that was being used to illuminate the stuff in the sink. I like that touch, though.

Really glad your own experience at Duckie was a positive one. I've been involved in a couple of other installations/performances in the Duckie De Trop season and yours was definitely the most memorable and best.