Category Archives: red suitcase (2009)

Balloon notes

I had thought for a while about the effect of combining 2 of my projects. BY adding my shop notices, or some other type of desirable note to a balloon with a return contact and letting them fly off attached to the helium balloons.
This was a fun style of communication at fates and carnivals, attaching a note to see who’s balloon could get the furthest (with a response from whoever finds it) .
I didnt know what to write on the notes. The problem with the notices is that no one had responded because they were terrifyingly vague, and if you found a balloon with a note on it saying ‘religion wanted urgently’ i dont think i would respond. There needed to be some personal gain to make it a participatory project. And i was thinking if i was just using the Balloons because they were so aesthetically poetic.
I did like this method of making a participatory project. Asking question and collecting responses through their contribution to a website. Or i could just promote the balloons film by sending a link. I would of quite liked to ask something mundane. I liked this method to get a random selection of people to make a network for a collaborative project…i just dont know what yet.

red suitcase retrospective

I feel i would like to write up some thoughts about this project now it has been reviewed and settled for some time.
I think the artists who viewed the film found it difficult to like because of its falsification. By falsification im relating to its aesthics and its short film mode. As i have said my intentions were to make it a live public performance and that it was, however i think that the short film form as documentation deceives this.

My background is in film, for the past year i have been critically studying cinema and producing my own videos and this has affected the works. My record of the performance was captured from 2 different angles and i even did some re-takes! It felt like i was on a film shoot, not doing a live performance.

I focused on recording the piece with film because i feel experienced with that. However my own aesthetic desires affected the edit because i turned it into a polished 3 minute short, with a cinematic soundtrack. The problematic thing that i am discussing now is that it has the appearance a short film but is a public performance work. It looks too romantic and dramatic to be a truthful documentation and when a piece of work is not fully engaged with a form it loses balance.

The red suitcase film has been sent to short film festivals but in that cinematic category it is not good enough. And it is rejected by artists because of its melodramatic soundtrack and cinematic qualities that polish the piece rendering it confused conceptually. So i feel like the work hangs between these two forms but does not fully engage with either leaving it like two tastes that don’t compliment each other.

Jordan Baseman said that visually the balloons coming out of the briefcase action was so melodramatic it should be done like a magician with more theatrics. Because of my interest in the ‘happenings’ movement a more theatrical approach seemed awkward because of ‘happenings’ anti-theatre sensibilities.
I have been an actor for 8 years till my interest in cinema lead me into digital technical design and performance. When i perform my works i struggle to avoid theatrical mode, because i have never performed differently, and when i edit documentation i am influenced by my studies in film and video.

I have been learning about new ways to perform and document in my performance elective. I think the documentation should be recorded by other forms of media, to avoid the final composition of the work to be influenced by my cinema education. I shall detach the performance and presentation of the documentation during the process otherwise they adapt and complicate each other. Once the documentation is presented it is very hard for the artist to reflect and communicate the art differently.

These are methods i need to take to be able to build on my background in theatre and cinema while presenting them in a performance art form.

notes on happenings

Ive been reading a book by Mariellen R.Sandford called ‘Happenings and Other Acts’ . The first Chapter is an essay on ‘Happenings’ and i liked it so much i made 2 pages of notes on it. There are notes that re-interpret the essay for me to understand it better. here they are –

Notes on two essays by Micheal Kirby (the futurist performance essay will come soon)

Happenings – Micheal Kirby

The first chapter attempts to clarify what Happenings are and demystify them. Common views on happenings is that they are occurrences, with no rehearsals or script, performed moments or interventions with chance. This is naturally a mis conception formed by dramatic media publicity over these performances. Happenings were not formed through art criticism or performance theory , however I would argue that they are a form of theater.
Happenings are a form of visual theater for very little speech is used as language & dialogue is not needed to develop a performance. Language in theater often is employed to develop a structure and happenings are insular, self contained performances. Kirby introduces the term ‘ compartmented’
So here is the first definitive difference between traditional theater and Happenings, the absence of language to develop narrative.
Tradional theater functions through conveying an information structure through dialogue, characters, semiotics and mis en scene. All this techniques allow the audience to apprehend and appreciate the concept. This information is conveyed throughout the duration piece of the piece, like traditional storytelling structures. Happenings structures are different because the performance is insular and although they can be performed sequentially one ‘scene’ can convey enough information for a singular concept to be interpreted.
I use the word scene however scene indicates that there is a place and time that the actors are playing, a setting. Happenings would not have such devices in their performances.

Another major difference between happenings and theater can be read upon viewing a happening, principally the behavior of the performers themselves. When an actor in a theater takes to the stage they present to the audience a matrix of space, time and character. The performer functions within this intentionally created world or matrix that the audience consciously allow to be involved in. They are aware that their reality is different to this manufactured reality, no matter how topical the subject or effective the performance of the characters, its still a show.
Many methods such as Brechts fourth wall attempt to dissolve the superficiality of the shows world and styles of presentational acting. Direct address, asides and monologues are all forms of presentational acting where the characters in the show establish the stage as a stage and a play as a play.
These are devices adapted to make the shows own matrix as unnoticeable as possible to the audience, to try and interact between these two separate worlds. However during a direct address to the audience it appears that the character is aware of the world he is in, never the actor. The theater setting has a predetermined audience interpretation of anything and everything being part of the show, and in this other matrix of time and place.

For Happenings to dissolve the difference between these two realities they had to escape the influential setting of the theater. Happenings began to be performed in a variety of places with an informal performer – audience relationship, similar to the style a public speaker making a presentation. The public speaker functions within the same time and place as the audience attempting not to create a separate world of that the performance is. When addressing the audience the public speaker must function within this shared situation , however through symbolism this can be often unclear. Comedians may function in a situation with the audience as part of their routine until they do an ‘act’ that symbolises a character.
A performance in a Happening will be purely functional to respond to the actions of the situation. This situation will have been constructed and perhaps the best Happenings have not had an audience, so the action is not viewed as in a performance setting.

Happening artists achewed the theater while experimenting the theory of critics like Brecht, Ataud, Stanislavsky and Vakhtanghov. A difference of opinion has existed in theory critics about the performance of actors. ‘Monists’ such as Stanislavsky felt that the performer should be unseen within his character and ‘dualists’ such as Vakhtanghov and Brecht, felt that the performer should be perceived simultaneously with the character they are playing.
A definition is formulated in Kirby’s essay that Happenings can be defined as a purposefully composed form of theater in which diverse alogical elements, including non –matrixed performing, are organized in a compartmented structure.

The theory of Happenings is relatively understood however the practice of them can sometimes counter act their aim. Performing these situations to an audience induces a theater form when it is trying to eschew these structures.

By Max Dovey. But taken from Micheal Kirby’s essay on ‘Happenings’.

Red Suitcase feedback

installed red suitcase film into the suitcase and have been exhibiting it to more or less good feedback. I got called an ‘old romantic’! and that maybe if it is a reconstruction and highly superficial it could be even more polished, with all the balloons the same colour or white gloves or something. I am hitting on a magician character with this suitcase and it needs a little bit more character.

Theres been some great work up with alot of depth and variety.

going back today to see/do some more performances as the host. the host. the host.

red suitcase

Got some critical feedback and id like some more here are some questions –

Does the title indicate too much?
do i create any sort of suspense?
In anyway does it look like a recording of a public performance?

I got into an irritating argument about how it wasnt a public performance. It was. apparently it can only be a performance when the camera is filmed really badly on a mobile phone and no non diagetic sound can be added. I wanted the recording to a peice strong enough on its own, which it now does.
Another reason for the film looking so nice with lots of angles is that the act of the balloons coming out of the suitcase is a reconstruction of lost moments. If i was to stay honest to the concept than there would of been no record for these lost moments. Art college would of loved that.
I guess it also shows the fact that ive been doing film studies for the past year and although the idea of lost moments inspired me i also wanted it to look quite visually poetic.

Can you perform a reconstruction to video? or does video make anything live into a reconstruction?

anyway the balloons will fly again. I am determined not just to have made a lovely film and be done with it. although it is a lovely film!