Saturday, 21 March 2009

etiquette @ cafe oto, dalston, 18 march 2009

ps it didn't say photos not allowed, and it wasn't documented during, so apologies if not permitted, let me know.

interaction.participation.direction. actor.voices in your head. the portal of performance. a happening.the quirkiness. the getting it wrong. the real people taking part v the character they i a spectacle?

what i wrote in the comments book; (which was very full i might add- by situating in a cafe, people sitting and reflecting and scribbling away over a coffee)

" i loved this in so many ways, being in and outside yourself and the table being so many things to so many places- real and imagined. liked getting things wrong. my partner was by nature an extremely emotional character so though the tears were real until she started clapping- so perhaps remove this element? this brings it into the realm of real human emotion and how much you want to do this. loved just being in a cafe having coffee, then taking part, and then digesting over another coffee. lots of clever play- blu tak'd heads nice touch. what is reality? "

am grimacing over the last phrase i wrote, bleurgh, the age old chestnut of live art performance;)

some other thoughts from my notebook and now a few days on;
  • the table, what is a table? liked this portal of performance to another world- a stage, landscape, cafe table here and cafe table elsewhere
  • liked being told what to do and not quite getting it all, the problem highlighted with communication/ mis-communication in life, not saying what you really mean, body language not quite right
  • my favourite part was the raindrops, the building up of a scene, sound overlay, transported to a hill side. interesting in considering the experience of this part of the piece, I was totally consumed by the voices in my head and the mental pictures, that although i was aware i was confused about what B was doing, it didn't matter. In discussing it afterwards with B it made me question how good an actor you should be for this work, or the fact that the opening part of the piece was on a stage, learning your lines, points directly to this fact being part of it. laughing at yourself in trying to convey an authentic furrowed brow
  • some people had written in the book they couldn't hear what their partner was saying, so we were told to speak up by the usher before we started- comments helping refine the piece for others' benefit.
  • the 'drinking of blood' the theatricality of my experience of that moment over B being told what it really was
  • loved the blu tak heads, making it personal to you. could imagine the improvisational fun in developing the quirky objects interactions, sat around playing with a blob of blu tak and seeing what it could become of it. what if we had actually been asked to make something out of blu tak??
  • acting v chance, interaction v participation. you are just told to follow instructions, but how people interpret those is interesting, i'd like to have sat and been close by when others' have taken part. i know a friend who went to see a version of this at the barbican who found this tedious, and started to play with the objects more themselves, invented their own scenarios, and for them that made it more interesting. was only chance elements in the way you act them out, no one is sat directing you to say that again with more umph, or also the chance element in the way you were told to make your partners head out of blu tak, open to interpretation.
  • the sense of being present v presence. physical presence observed (i am here in body) v mind wandering/ letting yourself escape into the headphones (i am not here, but there). mental in the reality of the event and in the reality of real life
  • layers of audience. you participating, you are also being a spectacle for the spectators in a cafe. the website talks about people not realising you're taking part...i think this is not really possible with the speaking out loud/doing odd actions/ not doing the usual cafe business of eating and drinking, even though you are sat at the edges, i felt very conscious of someone sat in the window a metre away. what about if in centre of the room- would have completely changed the piece, been entirely self- conscious
  • the booking the table- it has to be for two so to say you could do it with a stranger (website) seems a little odd to actually have been able to do, how about if it had been to book a seat at the table, but logistically this could have been tricky to co-ordinate
  • liked the low tech nature of it, the thinking you know what you're going to do with the objects by forming an impression looking at them, and then the pleasure in having this turned on its head. liked the use if the old school dymo mapping out the table
  • B said " liked the low tech object, simple, using the high tech object of our minds"
  • the aftermath, the coffee digesting it all.... changed my relationship to the cafe oto space, felt had more of a personal relationship, like having taken part in a secret pact and wondering if the other customers had too....starting conversations with those that had, that we may not have chatted to otherwise.
  • what do i remember now? did the narrative actually stay with me? i think this wasn't important, the quirkiness of it was intriguing enough and the exact nature of the dialogue wasn't important apart form the mental descriptive landscapes e.g. the hill and the rain. i don't think in retrospect the stage stuff at the start was necessary and more about the prostitute/old man/hill/cafe. the pace of the piece meant it was hard to absorb the dialogue
  • in thinking about this work before experiencing it, i asked myself, what it would feel like to be using a headset for my aural stimulus detaching me from my surroundings and enabling intimacy. I would say the work felt intimate to a degree, voices in my head, but the visual distractions being in a working environment meant i was locking in and out of the experience, i couldn't feel entirely detached the portal being i was rooted in both worlds simultaneously, it was a happening, like life in some parts but not life in landscapes of the mind.
  • the participants become the performers- no bodily presence of them. this felt good,not necessary, they were voices in your head. more like connections with being in a gallery and putting on headphones. the outcome/piece to encounter/experience not the artist bodily present.
  • ps i kept my bits of paper which were used in the event. sorry. it felt wrong to blog them though so they are kept secretly and safely.
so..for me? a possible way for relaying a score or having a live conversation through headphones? am unsure. perhaps people could develop their own images in a space through recorded or live instructions, or as my work has so many chance elements, is this potentially too crystal maze??!! where it becomes all about getting the tasks right and a real game show spectatorship ethic. any potential here in headphones for having an real time exchange? do you need to experience me? what about other more low tech conversational technology, e.g. tin can telephones? as my work is about photography is this becoming tangential? what i could also take from etiquette is the narrative integration and manipulation of objects- real and imagined uses. the real memory and the made up one. how much do people in my one-to-ones make up their stories in my pocket work? how much do people give of themself and take a risk? in the one-to-one of etiquette, mostly, you is at least mentally, safely hidden. unless you are faced with someone crying, is it them or another?


the other thing that was suggested to me this week (and i remembered mentioning him in my MA blog about his choir 17 work with regarding temporality,) was bill drummond's 17 which is a book which amongst other things gives scores for action which are deleted afterwards, experienced only in the time and place it occurred.

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