By Amelia Couderc (HPI '16)
Two weeks ago, we were given the prompt to bring in an object, a song, a video, and a text that piqued our interest, drew us in, or was somehow special to us. However, the things we selected were not supposed to be statements about WHO WE ARE. But isn’t everything???
Anyway, these things made our constellations.
A metallic gold wallet.
A reflector that fell off my bike.
A picture from a magazine from the perspective of Michael Phelps looking up from under the water of an olympic race.
A youtube video of a girl honking her arm at a huge steamship.
The song “Who Said” by Margaret Glaspy.
DAY 1 /2
We set up the studio with our mini-installations and toured the space like an art gallery. David had us each explain our constellation to the entire class. Then our constellations were grouped together.
In our cluster, we were to dive into each constellation individually and experiment with what people brought to the assignment. Right away, our group “did it wrong”. Instead of jumping into just one person’s constellation, we tumbled into an accumulation of all of our materials.
Our agreed starting point was the concept of cinematic techniques and “forced perspective” executed in live performance. Light/reflection and vanishing points were elements of my constellation that fed the group concept.
Logan came up with the idea of the space helmet as a tool to “frame” what an audience member saw. The duct tape was added to control the participators line of sight even further. Then, to make it so the participant was seeing something that we really controlled, we grabbed a wheely chair from the office. With both the chair and helmet, we could control the proximity, frame, and the movement of the frame of vision. Like navigating a person as a camera filming a movie.
Once the vehicle was built, we designed tableaus and scenes that the participant would “pan” across. The content of what the participant saw was pulled from all of our constellations.
We left this experiment considering additional cinematic techniques and what the content of the exploration might be...
We welcomed former test subject, Becca Khalil, to our group and decided to try following the rules this time. All of the work with cinematic perspective was put on a backburner and we jumped into Becca’s constellation! Her collection stirred up questions of giving secrets away, secrets/faces submerged in water, a fire belly burning with words, and a song.
So we gathered a bucket, slips of paper, and a Becca.
I was was drawn to how the secrets could hover in the water, not floating or sinking. You could still read them as they swirled around.
As we kept working, I noticed myself acting as the facilitator of Becca’s ideas. And, in that position, I never really questioned how I was implicated in the experiment. It was kind of a relief to be there solely as a supporter, but there was a point in the experiment when Becca dipped her head into the bucket of our secrets (not her’s) and I wondered if my secrets belonged in that bucket at all.
ALTHOUGH what came out at the end of the session was a really interesting submersion into one person’s concept. There was a lot of heat in being completely present in someone else’s realm of things, but still on the outside.
And then we returned to the cinematic world of the space helmet. We found too much heat in our first concept to spend more time away from it (AND we wanted to invite Becca into that world). So we dove FULL OUT into aesthetic/design and lighting land.
I worked with Carl(os) on a tableau of a ship at sea in a rain storm, seen below.
Becca and Logan worked on ways of manipulating light to create the atmosphere of our world. In the picture below you can faintly see our second attempt at a vehicle for transporting the audience member through the space. As soon as the wheelchair entered the experiment, Becca brought to the attention of the group the implication of using a wheelchair in performance with regards to those who have disabilities and navigate the world in wheelchairs. We all agreed that it’s important for the wheelchair to be a thoroughly considered element of the piece (especially if it makes it into a performance of some sort). This made us realize that we don’t quite know WHAT THIS IS ABOUT?! If a wheelchair doesn’t make sense, then it doesn’t make sense and we don't use it. If it does, then we might transform the wheelchair into something else. But WHAT?! iS? tHIS? about? Do we have to come to a consensus?
All food for the next meeting.
OR we might move on to another constellation…
(That’s what happens.)