Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The frames lost from a movie when my friend and my sister blinked

This is my artistic research on the psychophysiological somatic responses to violence in films.
The video features the moments that Alejandro (my best friend) and Louiza (my sister) lost when they blinked while watching this movie.
Ofcourse it has been put in fast forward for two reasons (A) there is no website that allows me to upload a film of 1h 40 mins (unless I have the status of a director on YouTube; (B) it's faster for people to see some results (instead of watching the whole film). HOWEVER, the idea is to watch the whole film.
Pay attention to the fact that during scenes of violence and action there is less blinking, because they were very attentive.
Louiza blinks more often, probably because of her sex and also because she has had a serious brain surgery some years ago.]
This video took me approximately 50 hours... it's really detailed although you can't see it now...


And here is a very fast explanation of how I did 3 seconds from the movie... If you want to do 1 hour and 40 minutes then you have to start meditating...


And this is the printed version of the timeline of both Louiza's and Alejandro's Timelines. I have printed it out in order to mark the areas of density of blinking. My hypothesis is that it is more dense in the areas where little violence or action is depicted in the film. Less dense timeline is during violence. The same happens for both spectators although Louiza's timeline is per se more dense (read above my explanation). It is not wise to compare the two timelines. What I suggest is to find the moments of density in each timeline and then try to see if these periods are the same. If they are, then what is actually on the film?

Click here to see the timeline. Drag right or left...
A zoomed moment from Alejandro's timeline

Thursday, 26 June 2008

How to read this blog (an introduction for newcomers)

I know that some people that enter now in this blog might find it very hard to follow up certain things, not necessarily but yes I can understand that they might feel excluded.
So on this post, I would like to explain some very basic stuff on how to read the blog.

Basic rules of the blog
1. Automatic writing (you are not allowed to go back to correct things... always write and write, never stop)
2. Write it after the rehearsal (in the evening) but continue it the next morning in order to have a more distanced approach.
3. While writing, reflect, don't just describe
4. This is a blog. Respect the character. It's not a notebook, an academic article, a documentary, an essay, a journal, a website, a book. Think of your language

Videos- Photos
It's good if you have a look at all videos/photos. Click on the photos to enlarge them. Since photos don't say anything, on the strict sense (as Sontag says), most of the times you can read a caption or some text around it to understand what is going on.
Photos and Videos are the best visual means to explain elements of the creative process that otherwise would need pages of description.

As you may notice, there are some parts of the text that are highlighted and some others that are not. Let's have a look to what these colors might mean:

Red color is for extracts that speak about the working process
Orange stands for creative and critical strategies
Yellow is my critical thought and evaluation of the results of my strategies, processes, experimentations or however you like to call it.
Green color is feedback I got from my fans, haters, colleagues and tutors
Blue color is influences from other artists or academic articles/essays.
Any other color is just to highlight the importance of the text.

Before going any further, I need to mention that many things could fit in different colors/categories. By coloring them I am not trying to say how you or I define "working process" or "critical strategies" or "feedback". It is just a way to help the reader. The idea comes from Martin Hargreaves who thought it would be easier for the assessors to witness the evidence of the above elements.
For you, as a reader, some things could be red, some others orange and some others yellow. It doesn't really make a big difference. Furthermore, I believe that these categories are a lot of times meeting each other and differentiation is not possible.

If you want to follow the canonical time then you should read from down to up each blog. Don't forget to read month May which is not shown here. Best option is to click on the links on the right.
Here is a small summary of the work:

1. On Saturday 10/5 I decide to open a blog for the work I am already doing on "Regarding the pain of others" a book by Susan Sontag. I have long time now written my proposal and have started working, but only now I have concretized my methodology. That is being alone in the studio and receiving written feedback through this blog. Writing this blog is per se a moment of reflection. I worked on the representation of some photos (with playmobils) described in the book of Susan Sontag and Virginia Woolf and was troubled by the fact that I was alone and needed to by multitasky.
2. On Sunday 11/5 instead of taking a day off, I watched and thought over a performance by Miguel Gutierrez, processed the feedback I got from some friends and set out some rules on how to work effectively on my own.
3. Here you can see some of the photos from Sunday
4. On Monday 12/5 I worked on how to make a script from the book of Susan Sontag, I thought over the idea of documentation and discarded it in general terms but understood that there was something important with it. I also thought on the format of a performance lecture and got some inspiration by another artist who is working with Legos and famous photographs.
5. On Tuesday 13/5, I fragmented my work in little different pieces and did a little bit of everything and nothing. I worked on setting up the space, on a new attempt for a script and thought over about a small experiment with playmobils and camera.
6.On Wednsday 14/5, I started taking photos to be able to see with my eyes how the space looked like when I was performing. I made some reflections on laser pointer as a means for documenting time and memory and on the performativity of documentation. And I explain how I was inspired by McCarthy on this multi-projection screen.
7. On the second blog of Wednesday 14/5, I ask for people to read my blog in order to receive feedback. I process an email that was questioning my use of space. I reflect on why setting up the space in front of audience is not a good suggestion. I explain some of my thoughts on why naked and what is performance lecture for me (mainly pointing at the self-reflexivity of the medium). I give some rules to myself for keeping up the energy and program my work. I also pay a tribute to a YouTube great Channelist, Chris Crocker.
8. On Thursday 15th of May, I am in a crisis believing that my work is shit and that I am not an artist. I made the first version of the video with the playmobils and explained how I made my story line and I added some more thoughts on the idea of a performance lecture.
9. On Friday 16th of May, I showed a part of my work to my colleagues to receive some feedback and videotaped the presentation. In order to do that I took some last minute decisions. I tried to reflect on the moment of presentation and on the general feedback I received. I also set up the steps I needed to take further in this creative process.
10. Saturday 17th of May, I processed and tried to digest the feedback that I got from each person, replying to the following questions: (A) what, in my words, did the people say on how that X thing functioned, (B) What, in my own words, they recommended, (C) What I decided to do, (c) What they actually said. Feedback was about Virginia's Image, the script, the playmobil video, the archiving of time with the laser and tags and the written feedback per person. I finish it by making some rough conclusions.
11.Sunday 18th of May, I stayed at home. Digesting was a hard job. I can clearly feel that a new day has come in this creative process after the feedback sharing session. Kate Bush featuring in "Army Dreamers"
12. Monday 19th of May, I didnt do much. Tired? Overwhelmed? I practically experimented though with Susan Sontag's idea of composition and staging of photos. Processing took another post this time even more critical.
13. Wednesday 21/5: Ibon Aranberri's Politica Hidraulica. Two methods on how to make the script work and my first symptoms towards a solipsistic process that I will later call masturbation.
14 After a break of one week and a half, on June 3, THE RETURN. I reflect on why I couldnt write my blog. I start making more coherent my choices of what the text of Susan Sontag means to me drawing a map of the most important elements and making a possible itinerary. I made a video that I wanted to circulate in the Plasma Screens of Laban before the performance. During this week, I met with Dr Elena Cologni whose work and academic lecture helped me understand more deeply my work.
15. Wednesday, 4th June, still processing Cologni's ideas and playing around with them, I discover my idea on delay and repetition of voice. Deleuze and his Lost Time is a major influence. Efforts to keep my concentration.
16. Saturday 7/6, I reworked on the text, making myself feel comfortable with it. I understood that the days were passing and needed to give some time also in cleaning and learning how to perform. I made a plan. Masturbation starts hitting me. I am now officially recognizing that I might be suffering from an infected solipsistis masturbator.
17. Sunday 8/6. If you can't work on your own you need others to help you. A cry for a helping hand from a solipsist masturbator. Is it politically correct to be self-indulgent in a performance? I try to rationalize my mood. On repetition: pscychoanalyzing the spectator, the choreograher and me
18. 9th of June , I made a photo speak to me and tell me what it wants to say. I understand that noone can help me from my masturbation, I need to take control of it on my own. I take a voice class and understand some basic practical principles on how to sing. I start cleaning
19. Next day, I find some rules how to correct my song and I made a lot of rehearsals/repetitions
20. On Wednesday 11/6, I am thinking more in detail what I mean by the term war photography, of the links between choreography, lecture and present time and how the individual elements relate to each of these three spaces. I make the list of props I need and realize I miss my video with the playmobils.
21. Friday 13/6, I have to remake the playmobil video (2nd version), I question about the timing of the piece and work even further with the text writing a script according to the map I had drawn earlier. I also show my singing and receive some valuable singing.
22. On Saturday 14/6, I have to make a new text. I need to find new rules but I understand that I could have never arrived to this level if all the other steps were not made.
23. Monday 16/6 I still need to figure out some basic stuff about the space to make it work. Still researching but also rehearsing the last version of the text. I start understanding what preparation means.
24. Tuesday 17/6, Opening up from self-indulgence to other people. And experimenting with lights and writing the last notes to remember for the presentation of the work in progress
25. On Thursday 19/6 I write my first impressions on the performance, give my program notes and a not so brief brief.
26. On 24th of June, I put the video (very bad I know but I didn't have any other) of the work in progress on line.
27. Later that day, I put down my reflectios on the research process, the result of the research so far, the performance moment and how it was perceived and received by the audience. I also set out some questions for me to further think.

Any questions? Please email me.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Reflecting back

So here I am nearly at the end of the first part of the creative process.
I need to reflect on the research process, on the result, on the performance and on the reception of the piece.

A. Research Process
The methodology of this investigative and creative period had a very specific restriction- character. It was a solo process that many times fell over to solipsistic nuances.
Interestingly enough, this solitary method was what I was avoiding many years now because I was afraid of it. Working like that, was a big risk for me far away from my usual paths.
In comparison with my previous works, it proved much easier to work more hours. Practically speaking, I did not have to convince my unpaid dancers to come over for rehearsals. I was the master of my own timetable and as typical example of stressful workaholic this decision proved revelatory. Now, I could work almost 24/7. I didn't have to interrupt my thought and I didn't have to get frustrated with the need for break people might want (I very rarely take a break, but that doesn't mean that I don't get easily distracted).
What proved harder though was the fact that I could not see the work from outside. As I was the performer and the choreographer at the same time, working in the studio and trying to correct myself could only happen on the basis of affect of the experience, which obviously was not enough. Therefore I decided to open this blog almost 1,5 month ago. The idea was playing with my rules as a lawyer. The rule was that noone is allowed in the studio to help me in any way. But that did not mean that I could not ask for the ideas and feedback of friends and colleagues. The blog thus served as a device for opening up my creative process to the public and being able to receive feedback support from a third eye that was able to detach him/herself from the studio research. Indeed, I got a lot of replies of various styles and with completely different ideas to thing about that otherwise would be kept out of my realm of investigation. More than that though, I got moral support and a feeling of still having friends. I have to admit that it was a solitary process, so closed and lonely that it felt like ascetism. And now that I am thinking of it "asceticism" comes from the Greek word "ascecis" which means practice/ excercise. Ascetic is the person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention from all sorts of indulgence.
Writing the blog forced me to research through the very act of writing. The moments when writing is was reflecting in the work and on myself and I was taking decision on how to proceed further. My deliberate decision to begin writing the blog late in the night and finish early in the next morning allowed for some sort of detachment and together with my choice to be as descriptive as possible I managed to maintain an acceptable level of objective criticism which was quintessential for the advancement of the work. Whilst typing, I was thinking, refelcting, diagnosing, conceptualizing, dreaming, programming, speculating, cerebrating, regarding, resolving, remembering, visualizing, guessing, hypothesizing, weighting, concluding, pondering, supposing, envisioning, articulating, deliberating, chewing on, burning my brain cells and so on....
However, in order to keep my readership going on, I had to make decisions on how to present the work and my questions. Different methods included coloring of videos or deviding the work in subparagraphs with a specific title, or sending emails everyday with a casual salute and an introduction to the titles of the subparagraphs, or posting many photos on and so on... Understanding the importance of keeping this blog readable and interesting for the audience, and being aware of the methodologies used to achieve this, has helped to understand the importance in converting the lecture text into a more presentational mode. Since the importance of maintaining the audience was big both for the blog and for the real performance, I realized that even in the very last moment I should revise the text to make sure that it is interesting and captive enough.
Writing the blog on the other hand, proved out to be a fastidious and tiring method. In order to avoid feeling that writing this blog takes precious time from my studio practice, I decided to adopt blogging as a feature of my work. Maybe this is why my work proved out to be so focused on the performativity of the document(ation) and the archiving, indexing of time.
Another aspect of the methodology that has influenced the content of the piece was the fact that I was alone without the help of anyone. As a result, I got so much used to this comfortability of non having a voyeur that I fell in the trap of what I called "masturbation". So lonely was the work that I started finding pleasure in myself with my loneliness, otherwise it would be too painful. In that sense, it proved really difficult for me to open up the performance to the audience and be able to perform something for somebody else. Even today my feedback on the result and the performance is that fact that I need to manage to be aware of my position in relation to the audience. I need to look at them. I need to be aware of them.
I am not sure whether the work would be better without this solipsistic restriction and blogging experience. I guess different. Maybe not so much me, or maybe more me. Who knows...
What I am sure of though is the fact that I am not afraid of this solitary process anymore. In fact, I want to continue working on my own, until I can find some money and pay for some performer to join me. No more frustration with dancers for complaining about their tiredness and my workalcoholism and no more hiding the creative process from the audience. And still in that case, that I do use performers again, I would continue using lots of the elements I have just mentioned as tools for development.
Going to phase B of my research on this piece, I need to find a residence somewhere and continue working on a solitary basis but with some nuances on the participation of the others and of my awareness of the other. I want to see how the work will change if the space is different and the institutional restrictions are different (fucking Laban, I hate its dead criteria). Allow myself to be influenced by the surroundigns and environment more, do the work on my own and critically engage with the other.

B. On the result
Is it different from my first initial idea? Interestingly enough, I don't think it is. Of course my initial idea was very abstract and open to different interpretations, but I think its main core remained the same. I had always in my mind I wanted a performance lecture and I knew how wanted to archive time and make noise.
However, I was not aware why I wanted to do all these things and I was not aware whether my idea was good or bad, would work or not. I needed to try out and find different modes for making the idea succeed. More than that, however, I discovered different theoretical concepts that helped me solidify my intuition and together with the received feedback to focues on specific applications for the realization of the idea.
Trying hard and harder on the same idea. That's what I did. I never abandonned the initial idea. The way to achieve this idea however has changed many time. Take for example my fighting with the text. I have changed more than 10 times the text and the way to deliver it. And the decisions to change the text came as a reply to accomodate in the best possible way my initial concept. Other times it went closer to the concept, other times further away. But I think all of these stages were needed in order to arrive to this one. Experimentation, trial and error. A lot of error, especially with the text. But also with ways to hang the photos, to make their noise, to structure the whole piece.
I am not sure that this is the best format to accomodate the concept. I feel however confident enough to say that from all the other ways I have tried, this seems to be the most suitable one. Even in the very last moment I had to make changes, bigger or smaller. And I guess continuing on, I have to allow such a flexibility although things are starting to solidify now.
What is interesting about the result is that things came together in the very last second. And this is not the fist time that I work like that. I think this is a token of method that always questions product and tries to understand what is the best option. If no panic included, this method is very succesful because it doesn't allow to lose time in recycling what has already been produced but it continues shaping and altering the product in order to make sure that the end product will be the best possible.
I am quite happy with the result. I haven't been able to detach myself from it yet in order to see it more clearly, but I think it is the product of a solipsistic and written-reflective process (as mentioned above). What I would now need to do in the phase B of my creative process is to try to see how a different methodology could re-shape the product in order to be more clear and connected to the initial concept.

C. About the performance
Looking back at the video, I realize that the sensation I had from the piece is different than what I see. And that is maybe because I had never seen myself performing the "end product" before (it's not the "end" but you know what I mean).
I have a lot of remakrs on how to correct the piece.
For the first part (introduction, Virginia) I need to make sure that I will not spend a lot of time in technical changes. It destroys the energy. Maybe I need someone to do these things. Faster changes. I must have lost more thatn 4-5 minutes in total just rearranging the space which is dead time and certainly not at all helpful for the building up of an energy in the audience and captivating its attention.
Whenever I deliver a caption (either on the table or on the tags-wall) I need to deliver the caption calm, clean and aware of my posture, the space, the audience. After that, I can pick up the red tag and move. Not two things at the same time. It gives an uneasy feeling, a person that is stressed. And that would be ok if it were part of my script. But it's not and it doesnt help me. In general, I need to work out my performing qualities. Now that I have seen it, I can understand why I feel stressed. Probably because I have "intruders" in the space. I have gotten used to work on my own. New people in the space make me feel uncomfortable. I have to feel comfortable. It's ok to be social. I have to break the glass separating the audience and me. FUCK it's such a small space even.
Bein neutral is better. Don't put on a smile. It's slimmy it's disgusting and more than that it expresses an interpretation that makes the piece be very literal. The emotional impact of the photo itself is enough. I don't need to use my face to amplify this carnage.
For the singing part (it's a good idea) but I need to really work out on the way I am building up movement. There is something very broken in or breaking of the energy. I don't feel very happy. More than that, I need to work out the timing and the way of accumulation much more. An idea is not enough. It needs work to polish it. Just like with the text. I feel quite succesful with my efforts with the text. Not that the singing is so bad. But a little bit more experimentation on how to move and how to accumulate wouldn't harm. Maybe I could even set it out more. Improv is good but in order to make sure that everytime the work is done the way I want then I should set it out.

C. Reception of the performance
I've heard very good comments about the piece. People felt slowly drawn by the juxtaposition of the photos and they were anticipating what would happen next. Some people told me that although neutral and clean, the piece indeed had a very strong polemical stance without being dictating. Some others told me that the level of research, the hours in the studio, the hard work were not only felt and viewed in the piece but they gave a feeling of high professionalism that was beyond a sheer sharing of research work. I was even told that I am smart. True or not I don't know. I like just transferring the words.
I want to know more and more however how the work (piece and research) was perceived. I want to hear more about their interpretation of the result and the method of the work. I want to hear their feedback.

Some further questions for going further from now on
How did this research work ?
What were the main characteristics of the research ?
What were the advantages and disadvantages of this research method?
What are the links between method and result?
What other methods could I use to arrive at the same result?
What other methods could I use to change the result?
How is the result perceived?
What can be changed in the result?
How can it be changed?
What should not be changed in the result?
How do you correct the performer?
Do you correct the performer?
What is the concept according to an audience member?
Can this perceived concept allow for a different interpretation or is it so strong that no other level of interpretation is accepted?
How does this piece make the audience feel?
How did this research make the blog-readers feel?
How interesting was this research method for blog-readers?
How useful was this research method for the piece?
Could it be easier?
Could it be more difficult?
Was it helpful reflecting?
What other methods I have used that I have not identifies?

Regarding the pain of others - a lecture performance





Thursday, 19 June 2008

First Impressions, Program Notes and a not so brief brief

First impressions
So the show of the work in progress is over.
I really wanted to write some things yesterday but I was extremely tired. I spent whole Thursday sleeping and just going from bed to kitchen.
Really sorry for all those of you who waited to hear some news.

So here it goes.

They usually say that a bad dress rehearsal means a good premiere. Indeed the dress rehearsal was awful. I forgot to put the projections on, I forgot my text, I was TOO stressed... fucking bad... you can't imagine.

But the things turned better for the evening show.

Before that, I had had a brief warming up with Fabio, my spiritual guide. It helped me a lot to release the tension in my body and concentrate on my center. After that, I had 10 mins to reconfigure the space and get ready for the performance.
Leon Carter, the technician was an excellent assistant and he was also very interested in my work and gave me a lot of questions on the content of the presentation. It was nice to work with someone who finds my lecture interesting.
The performance started and I was less stressed than in the dress rehearsal, still I was tense. With the time passing I managed to relax and take it easy.
Some little mistakes that happened, I managed to take them along board, I hope, and perform s if they are a part of the happening, alongside with the deliberate mistakes that would prove the format of performance lecture.
I was a bit slow in reconfiguring the space after the pig headed mask, and I think that has costed a lot of energy in the audience, especially becoz it was the beginning of the lecture.

But I think that the text has managed to take the audience with it and to lead them to specific moods.
Maria, a girl following the MAC program, she said she was about to cry. Not all of the audience felt so emotionally pitched but with all these people that I have spoken, they all felt drawn to follow without a breath the juxtaposition of photos.

One little problem is that the laser was pointing too low and began too early. As a result the line of tags was not the same as I had expected. Weird I felt. I am not sure if it is for better or worse. It just felt different.

A little bit before arriving to the song, Martin had suggested that I should introduce the syncopated way of speaking one or two sentences before the "I am real"... And so I did... first time ever to rehearse it this way, and it worked out fine.

During the song, i also decided to add more and more action and to become bigger and bigger. That decision came after having seen the video, where there is a great climax and then because I stop singing and moving, it flattens everything. So I decided never to stop moving (even if i didnt have to sing). I think it brought everything to a nice climax.

A nice anecdote on nudity
If you remember by the end of the performance, I leave the space and go out to put some new clothes only to come back and ask the audience members if they have any questions or queries.
That was my intention to make the audience members look at the space after I have left it. A small museum. A document.

Well here is what happened. I open the door and I get out of the room. I am naked. Some kids are playing just in front of me. They get shocked. Even more shocked when I scream. I rush into the other room to change clothes. That takes some time. I am back, but one audience member thought it was over (that was Tony who is probably now reading my blog).
After some difficult questions, the show is over and I learned from the people that the kids went to the security to report the incident of a crazy guy running naked and screaming. The audience who had by that time just gotten out of the room, had to explain to the security guy that it was a performance.
My god... I never thought I would shock so much...
I feel really sorry for these kids. But the little pets have never played there before so that I could guess that they might be there. Oh well, anyway... they will have to face reality I guess in some years.
and as i say in my lecture "but what reality, whose reality are we talking about???"

Some reflections
1. I think this work needs to go further. I feel quite strong connected to it and believe there is something very interesting in it. It is still a work-in-progress though and therefore I need to find time to work on it even more.
2. Even as a work-in-progress , I believe people realized the amount of work behind it. That gave me a small of a tap in the back and a encouragement to go further. My work has been sort of recognized and there is nothing more I could ask. Imagine if I polish it what there would come.
3. Not having performed the last 2-3 years it was really difficult for me to come back. I think it was even more difficult because I never had the chance to work as a performer not did I have an external eye to correct me. Never the less, doing and redoing the performance has helped me to acquire a level of comfortability that I was lacking in the beginning. Still, I need to learn how to relax and not stress. If there is one thing I need to work more than anything else that is my stress and anxiety. If I were a bit more loose the piece would be much better. But again it was the premiere. That's ok. Not only that, but it was a work-in progress.
4. I need to put a tape in the cameras that are doing the supplement document, so that if I ever do it again I can use the material to have a better editing.
5. I should work out the first part where I reconfigure the space after the pig. It is quite boring to wait and wait.
6. I should see the video of the performance and then jump into conclusion but for the time being I think that what the text needs is sharpness and clarity in performance and at the same time try to break the glass between me and the audience. I need to be closer to the audience. Not it terms of geographic proximity but in terms of communication. If I loosen up I can do it better.
7. In a few words, I need to work out my performance skills, for sure. thank god laban does not have that as a criterion :)
8. Find cheaper batteries. My god each battery costs 2 pounds and I use 2 of them which means every performance costs at least 4 pounds. That's expensive... I am never going to make any money out of it...
9. I would like to perform this piece (when finished) to different audiences and countries and see their reaction. Since, for me, the piece is about war and photography, things that are global. How can the different cultures react to this piece?
10. Watch the film and then add up here your next thoughts.


Here are the notes of the program of the performance. This is what I want the audience to read.

TITLE Regarding the pain of others- Performance Lecture

"Invited [by Laban] I decided, instead of presenting the piece, to make a lecture about its issues. I have the feeling that this difficult piece hasn't been really understood. Maybe the piece was bad. But I believe that the issues of this piece were relevant, that is why I would like to change my medium and use the tool of the lecture to try to articulate better the stakes of ‘[Regarding the pain of others]’. I will re-contextualise the piece in its theoretical level through the texts of [Susan Sontag] and [Caroline Brothers] and in my artistic situation at that time."
(copied from Jérôme Bel), [edited by Pavlos Kountouriotis]

CHOREOGRAPHER Pavlos Kountouriotis

PERFORMERS Pavlos Kountouriotis

SOUND “'Mal Reggendo All'aspro Assalto' from 'Il Trovatore'” by Enrico Caruso
“I am real” by Pavlos Kountouriotis


SCENOGRAPHY Pavlos Kountouriotis

COLLABORATORS Pavlos Kountouriotis

Special thanks to my blog fans and haters, to Aaron Paterson and Martin Hargreavess for their great support, to Fabio Culora for his spiritual guidance, to Leon Carter for the lights and of course to me…

And this is a two page brief, of a more academic thought on my piece that does not interpret the piece in terms of what the piece itself says already, but tries to unpick another strand of interpretation of my research. Click here to access the .pdf file. (If the link doesnt work blame it to Google and ask me to send you the file). You can also read it below but it misses some nice photos and footnots also.

2 pages brief (not available to the audience)
Regarding the Pain of Others- A performance Lecture
by Pavlos Kountouriotis (2008)

Research Questions
• How can documentation be a performative event?
• How can documentation be an action of the past, the present and the future?
• How does documentation relate to the dynamics of memory archiving and recollection taking place in the present time?
• Where does reality (for Sontag) or authenticity (for Auslander) lie in documentation?
• How do you perform a text? Or how do you get rid of the unholiness of captions?
• How do you free a document from captions and text or how much of captions and texts are needed?
• How can you make a piece where different levels of interpretation are possible? Or how do you construct different spaces of time within the same space, so that interpretation of these spaces depends on the angle and perspective of a caption? So that it’s not just what it seems it is, but different realities coexist within the same photo.
• How important are captions?

Aims and Objectives
This work-in- progress in its entirety draws from the theories by Susan Sontag on the reality and performativity of documentation. Although Susan Sontag explicitly speaks about photography I try to enlarge the notion what that document might. Therefore two parallel universes were created that coexist and complement each other. The one is the choreography of a fictitious past moment breaking the boundaries between now, before and later and the other is the space of a live documentation of time.
In order for me to reply to the above questions and to connect these two parallel spaces I chose to create a third space, a line dissecting the two other universes and serving as a caption to understand, interpret or misinterpret both the choreography of a fictitious past and the live document. The power and the unholiness of captioning is also a constitutive part of Sontag’s theories.
Therefore, I chose for the medium of performance lecture, which, through its self-reflective, mirroring character can serve as a caption to the past, present and future. A thorough investigation on the stereotypes of the mode of a performance lecture has allowed me to give a comment on the authenticity and reality that this reemerging choreographic style builds by framing and staging only what the choreographer has chosen to think about or declares that he has chosen to thing about. Furthermore, if caption is perceived as both an explanation and an intention, without which the document has no meaning, the text and content of the performance lecture operates as a both the cause and the reason for the operation of live documentation and time/memory archiving.
In that sense, "connections between theory and performance are intertwined throughout. The Derridean concept of supplement as document in performance is inspirational for the production of the work. The latter focuses on the concept of present memory, traces, time delay and repetition, which I may find through this project, to be a paradox in the contemporary debate on liveness. This project is based on a hypothesis that notions of liveness and presence can be questioned by allowing manipulation of documentation in the live event to be the performance's opening stage rather than its point of closure thus generating a form of present memory".
Other than working simply with visual documents, there was also an effort to enrich the notion of what the format of a document could be, other than photography, questioning maybe Susan Sontag’s (2003) comment/caption: “poster ready […] photos are the visual equivalent of sound bites” (86).
Last but not the least, a very important characteristic of this work was my deliberate choice to work alone in the choreographing, photographing and general documentation of this work. Choreographing, perceived as historiography, as a means for creating a memory, had to be a solo work. As Sontag (1983) says: “Photos become memories and over time, fiction; there is no such thing as Collective Memory […] Memory is individual, irreproducible- it dies with each person.” (85) Furthermore, blogging every day was a part of the research on historiography but also captioning in order to explain to myself what had happened during my research that day and also to open the space for others to send me feedback.

Cologni, E. (2005).Fruition: perceptual time 'gap' as location for knowledge - Mnemonic Present Un-folding, Perspective section of Body, Space & Technology, (05), Retrieved June 17, 2008 from: http://people.brunel.ac.uk/bst/vol05/index.html
Derrida, J. (1978). That Dangerous Supplement, in Of Grammatology, Gayatri Spivak (tr.), Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Sontag, S. (2003). Regarding the pain of others. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Brothers, C. (1996), War and Photography: a cultural history. New York: Routledge.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Countdown: 1 day before presentation of the work in progress

Opening up: from self-infulgence to other people
Today, I worked out on my intentions and especially on explaining, and being neutral.
In order for me to have the feeling that I am talking TO someone, that this performance is open TO someone, I put some pictures on the chairs (from the Tuol Sleng prison). I have to admit that the gaze of the everdying girl on the right, probably at the age of my sister now, was really strong. I felt her presence haunting me. There was a moment when I was just asked to stop speaking and look at her. I am not sure if she liked what I said. She was just staring at me. I got the point later, when she whispered to me through her gaze good luck. Weird, huh?

Some of the tags waiting to become an archive of time on the laser's path.

It was the first time that I managed to do the whole performance with a laser pointer and I had never seen what the path of the point really looks like. I had thought that it would be a straight line. No... I could have never thought. This is sooo interesting. History is not a straight line.

Well, the space has been blacked out (which I didnt really like, coz it sort of destroyed it) and the lights were put. I would at least have prefered if there was a curtain to hide up the blackness of the window. Unfortunately not. But it's ok... It's STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS REMEMBER???

So yesterday, I did 2 run throughs from the beginning until the end. Some minor mistakes in my words, probably many mistakes in my performance qualities but mainly a lot of lack in coordination with technical demands. So, when I finished rehearsing, I went to a chinese restaurant nearby to have some dinner and I took elaborate notes on the exact steps of technical requirements I have to do in every section of the piece. I hope I won't forget them...

Monday, 16 June 2008

Security, Comfortability and a still difficult text

So, actually today I started by thinking technical stuff. As I said I needed to figure out how the photo would hang and still make noise. So my first idea was to put a rope and some hangers
and just hang the photo from there.
Once I did that, I realized that the rope was sitting too low, and that it looked a bit cheap. So I thought that if it looks cheap, it's better if you do it a bit more so that it looks more like a choice than the only possibility. So I put three rows of ropes and here is the result.

Although I quite liked it, there were two problems:
  1. The tape on the wall made it look cheap and unstable, after some time the rope would just drop in the middle because of the weight of the photos. I manage to solve this, by putting some foamy little stickers on the wall and locking the rope was easier so that it can't slip away. But if I had more money, I would prefer to have a metallic chord (like a silver one) and instead of sticker use something like nails or better you know like a mettalic bar that could be used for hanging one coat. Like a single thingy only. Nickel.
  2. Nice construction. But do you use it? No... so why have it if you don't use this whole thing. I realized that if I liked such a construction (which I wasn't really sure), I needed to take advantage of it. Not just let it hang. I did not have time until Wednesday. Therefore, this case was out of question.
When I was in these shops in Deptford of one pound, I discovered these metallic corners that they use to put under a shelf to support it. They only had a cheesy golden one. So I bought that for one pound, I discovered the height I needed to put it, I glued a sticker on the wall and voila... My little sound device was ready to be used.

Rehearsing the new text
So today I took the decision to go further with this new text as I had discovered it on Sunday. What I did though is to define what the spaces mean to me and set a specific rule for each space. So on the desk I give the following information: date, place, photographer. On the place where the red tag is supposed to be, I give a description but in the style of a caption or the caption. If needed, I turn to the photo and give some part of the theory behind it.
This is the rule, but I try to play with it as much as possible. Especially in the second part where I am questioning the unholiness of the tags, I am playing more and more with this rule.
Now what I needed to do is to cut the theory as much as possible and let the juxtaposition of photos to speak for themselves.

A small feedback I got from Martin is that even when commenting, I should try to keep myself as neutral as possible. Like an example is when I say: "it proved harder for Americans to duplicate Thatchers controls on the recording of the own foreign adventures" . "Foreign adventures" sounds too ironic. I could make it less. Or when I say the part of Margaret Thatcher during Falklands, I don't have to show that I have a great gossip that noone knows. more neutral (not that it was bad, but it can make the piece more dubious).
He also said that this new style of lecture, has opened up space for the audience to work alongside. He found that he can clearly see the research behind it and he is engaged much more with the idea.
What I also want to do it to keep myself (ofcourse more neutral) and a little bit more robotic, in a sense, here this, there that, keep it short, clean brief, strong, articulate. Not a lot of movement.
Especially for the second part, where a bit more of theory comes in, I got some feedback from Aaron that I should only say the text in my own words. When I use Susan's words, I don't come to the audience as a knowledgeable person, but I show an insecurity. I don't touch them.
Aaron also told me that when I am saying the theory the voice is coming from the chest and the head instead of the belly. It proves insecure. I should try to keep it low within me.
Processing that feedback, I think that I should really try to speak to the audience. MY INTENTION (and here is where Fabio also comes in) is to to pass something to the audience. I am not just reciting. I want to make a conversation, a communication, be sure that you get what I say.
Moreover, I should also not perform the fact that I am thinking. NO, I know what I am talking about.
Here is the last last part of the lecture (end of second part). After 8 hours of rehearsals, here I am. TOO tired, but I think it sorts of starts working now.
What do you think?
Of course more rehearsals.
Warming Up
Althought the piece is not a dance piece, it is quite demanding physically speaking. Because being able to scream so loud needs to have the breath and center well warmed up. Not only that, but performing 40 mins without a break needs a lot of strength and relaxation. After a while you start losing your energy and falling asleep (the room doesnt help a lot because there is no oxygen). Therefore I have decided to have a small of a "wakeup" warmup everytime before each rehearsal.

Tomorrow is technical rehearsal
So tomorrow for the technical rehearsal, I should have the space ready with beamers.
  • I should give to the technician the DVD with the video that needs to be played on the PLASMA screens
  • I should try out maybe some very basic lighting. I am not sure if I need it. I need to try out.
  • I should put black clothe on the window and door.
  • I should ask for the cables of the projector and cameras to go back of the audience so that the only cables available are the ones on stage. No cables separating the space between audience/performer.
  • I should print out the photos that I dont have and need.
  • I should make a DVD of the playmobils video.
  • If I use light, I need to give specific cues to the technician.
  • After the technician is gone, I should work out 3-4 times the text. Once I feel secure enough,
  • I should try and have 2-3 total run throughs. To get used to the exhaustion of the piece. No break should be allowed, even if a mistake happens. What do you do when a mistake happens? How do you treat it?

Oh my god....


Saturday, 14 June 2008

(new) Text # 6.943.603

A big failure.
After having made a great script for a lecture, I tried to learn parts of it by heart. I felt quite comfortable with it because there was a logical line and also I felt like I really knew what I was taking about. The script gave me a lot of security.

By the end of the evening, I tried to perform the whole text to see how it goes.

Already in the first 6-10 min, I felt quite tired and bored and I couldn't keep my concentration. I was feeling sooooo bored. Anyway, because the camera was filming I had no chance to get distracted. I could only keep on going.
Somewhere in the middle (page 8 or 9 out of the 16) I felt that this lecture is taking quite long. I also heard someone and I guessed it might be the guard locking the school. I checked out from the window and I didn't see anything, so I kept on working. But hearing more noises, feeling that the time is really passing by, I decided to check out the time. It was already 18.00. I was naked in the room, ready to be discovered by the guard for being late and not having left the building earlier. Oh my god. I panicked.
Look at this :)

I looked back at it, and it was DEADLY BORING. I am not kidding you. If my piece was about boredom, I could have a great performance. Naive boring, but boring. I was really dissapointed. I had arrived on page 8 out of 16 and had spoken for about 40 min. MY GOD. And imagine that in this time I havent shown even half of my photos, nor did I sing or show the playmobils video.
3 days before the performance. And here I am still struggling out with Susan. I hate her to be honest.

What do you do now?
So what I said to myself is that I need to approach the whole performance anew. What do I need? What do I like? What do I not need? Can I arrange differently?
I said to myself that I could suggest completely crazy ideas with the material I already had, so that I can open my mind a bit, and then I could return to the more practical basis of 3 days still.
Here is some ideas from my brainstorming:
- Create a space full of playmobils already "dead' and the video showing, the song playing. The people come in more like visitor to an installation than audience, red tags on the wall, laser pointer playing
- Have two big desks of photos, take any photo, stick it on the wall, while singing
- Show photos say maximum 4 words for each photo, stick a red tag.
- Read captions without stopping, then sing the song, show photos without stopping or pausing, show playmobils video and virginia woolf's image
- Become the pig and start saying the description of virginia's image

(new) Rules to make your text for a performance (draft #1.097)
Well, after having opened a bit my mind about the structure, I decided that the best possibility for me would be to do the following:
- Identify parts of the theory that I have used to create my "choreography".
- Print out thumbnails of the photos and spread them over your bed. Organize them in groups of meaning, time, subject, whatever you might want.
- Pick up those groups that you need to explain the theories above. Take the rest out.
- Put the pictures you have chosen and put them in such an order so that the arguments of the theory can come through.
- Now, try to speak as little as possible per picture. Avoid saying the theory(=give a caption) as much as possible.
- Always give the following information: date, place, photographer. The rest might not be needed. Make sure you can come through your ideas without any sauce or cherry topping.
Click on the image below to see my example:

Green circle is questioning reality of documentation through the idea of composition and (self)censorship
Blue circle is about the power of captions to give the meaning to a photo/document
Yellow circle is about memory and how photo/document works

Well it wasn't a failure after all
Making these coloured circles, I realised that I would never have arrived to them if I hadn't written the script. In a sense, they are almost the same groupings that the text is indicating. I needed to write the text to put my thoughts in an order. But now it is about time to get rid of my text to leave the presentation more free again. This game between attachment and detachment for the text (either that being mine, or Susan Sontag's or mine+ Susan's) is really tiring. But I am happy to have taken this step.

New Try out on New Text

So, now that was a try out of the "new" text. That is approximately 10 mins and is a little bit more than half of the lecture. I am happy as far as timing is concerned.
My worries however now are the following:
  • Is this new mode of delivering the text, allowing space for the text to exist? or is there a lot of movement and a lot of thing happening that people don't really care about what i say ?
  • I should keep two different tones of delivering the text: (a) a sharp and strict one, almost mechanic just giving the very basic of a caption, namely year, place, photographer and (b) a more lose and discursive character when giving comments on the photos. Maybe I could also define spaces for doing each. Meaning on the table I give the year, in the middle of the room (while walking, not stopping) I give the place, on the wall I give the photographer, I turn to the audience and give my comment (if needed). I don't know that's an idea
  • How do I keep my presence strong, without being slow nor very mechanic, boring or alienated from the audience. How much do I speak with the audience?
  • Technically speaking, where do I put the photo to stand? how can it still make noise? What about Susan Sontag totem?
There are only 4 places left to attend my performance on Wednesday. If you are interested in coming, send me an email or phone me. Entrance is for free but audience is restricted. Just as a reminder nudity and images of violence are included. Not recommended for under 18.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Two days blog (in a summary)

It's not that I haven't worked any on Thursday and haven't put something online. In fact I did so much that I was too tired to write a blog (naughty me). So today I am probably going to bomb you with all the new information.

Remaking the video with the Playmobils
So as you might remember, when I made the list of things I need for this solo, I realized that I had lost the video with the playmobils. So what I had to do on Thursday was to remake the video with the playmobils. I was really angry that I had to do it again.
Not only that, but what I liked in the first video is the fact that the video recording and the editing were rough, not at all an attempt to be good (just because I did it in very few hours). Any further attempt would not be as raw as the first time.
Indeed, I went to the studio, tried to remember the story, arranged my playmobils in space according to the photos I had taken from "Here is New York" and also from the photos I had taken from the playmobils representing the photos of "Here is New York". In a sense there was something very referential when I shot it again. It was referring more to the video than to the actual photos. But I was quite happy with that because it gave the feeling of aesthetics of failure.
I took then some of the very little segments of the first material I still had (and hadnt erased) and edited them with the new material, to make what is left down:

Looking back to it now, I think that I want to take out the yellow images because I find them too much effort to pass my idea, too literal. They don't allow for some space for ambiguity. What do you think ?

For some reason, I can't remember how we ended up there, Martin told me that he did not know that my piece was 1 hour. I explained to him that my piece, indeed, will not be an hour but approx 45 mins (but still long) and that I had given a detailed letter to the technicians and I had explained him in person. The problem was that my performance was scheduled in between other performances and provided that I have a restricted audience the rest of the audience would have to wait for an hour whilst my lecture.
I certainly understood that "technical" problem, but being told one week before that my performance was supposed to be less, it sort of like gave me a hard feeling. More than that I did not know whether Martin meant that my piece is not strong enough to be an hour. And that would make it a great feedback information. I wanted him to be straightforward and tell me exactly what he meant and why he tells me less than a week before that my piece should have been 15 mins.
Again, he stressed that he said that for techical reasons and that he thinks that my work needs time in order to show the idea of archiving time through the laser. A bit relieving, but in any case the whole discussion just shook me to start considering how interesting/strong or too long/ too prolix might be.
So I decided to reconsider my timing and see what is essential and what not. Can I take out the not so essential elements? If not how can I make them look stronger? How can I keep the performance compact?

Still problems with the text
I decided that I should try and do the whole text in one go. As you remember my idea was to improvising with its structure. But maybe either because I was tired, or maybe because I was very critical, I discovered that some parts of the text were not really needer or did not link to other parts and that generally my text (although I chose how to proceed with arguments) was a bit chaotic. Besides that having an improvisational structure did not really solve the problem of WHEN to show pictures (before or after that specific part of the lecture).
I decided thus to write a lecture. Writing for me is easier to understand the overall line of argumentation, the timing of each element, to be able to take conscious decisions on when to show a photo, to be able to eliminate what is not needed to support the skeleton of the lecture etc.
I don't think that I will read the text that I have written but more or less skim it through with my eyes. But, maybe I should not take decision. I should first try it out and see how it works. I need to be open in interpretation about it.

You can find the text here (just click on it):
First Draft of the Lecture on Regarding the Pain of others

  • Performing the lecturer: In the text as you can see there are some moments where I deliberately "leave" the formal style of a lecture. Like for example the fact that I can't find a photo, or the fact that I introduce a photo at a point when I shouldn't because it goes against my argument etc. I use this as a part of the stylized format of a "performance lecture". If you take a better look on Performance/Lectures they deliberately include moments where they perform the lecturer. The lecturer that cares more about the content than the format of the presentation. The lecturer that has a lot of things to say and a lot of knowledge but will keep them to the minimum for the audience to understand and be able to follow them. In a way they perform the cool and the academic. Take for example the performance/lecture of Xavier Le Roy : Product of circumstances. He deliberately makes some of his papers fall down. He deliberately has put some extra slides in between the ones he wants to explain and skims them through fast saying "oh I could leave that for now, that is very technical" (meaning that is TOO difficult for you who have come to see a dance performance). Since a part of my research is about working with the medium of performance lecture, I would like to make a reference to such elements. Besides my work, by encapsulating the general traits and characteristics of a performance lecture, will be a sort of (maybe superficial maybe not) commentary on the mode of the performance lecture.
  • Anyway... what do you think of them? And what do you think about the text in general? Does it have a coherence? Do I need to say more on my work ?
  • I mean the choreographic work will pop up on four moments where you see the highlighted text. For the time being I am thinking of just showing the work without saying anything about it. But somehow I find that weak... As if i can't apply the theory when "Speaking" about my work, only when doing my work.
  • Where you see a small of a white box saying "image" or "sound only" I willbe showing a photo that relates to the text (or because there is no photo I will only be making some sound). I have not yet decided whether the image will be shown simultaneously with the text or a bit earlier or a bit after. That's something I need to do per case, I think.
Feedback singing
Today, I showed the singing part to receive some feedback from my colleagues. While performing it I felt the following: I was not sure whether I could look at the audience or not. So in the first part I was staring at them and then later on, when I started screaming i needed to be more esoteric and so I abandoned them. I was not feeling very sure with this idea.
After having done it and before getting feedback, I felt that the timing was good, but somehow I had missed to do the following: (a) take some breaks when singing and allow only the machine to sing, (b)missed the higher pitches, (c)was too noisy because I sang too close to the amplifier for a long time.
Here is the video for you to have a look.


And here is the feedback I received from the people.