ColA_(Finding a) Stage_Location Narrative Workshop

date: 24 Sept 2011 (10am – 4pm)

place: hall of a primary school

aim: To experiment and to document the result as film so that it can be edited as a show-reel

documentation method: film, voice recording, photo

Following 2 Skype conference calls since the previous workshop, this workshop was an attempt to convert the narratives into a performance. For each of the narratives,  there were short discussion. general content of discussion:

1. reminding ourselves of the Skype conversation

2. adding new idea to it, if there were any

3. communication of individual thoughts and its development through discussion

4. agreeing what to do as an experiment

The experiments were quick, using whatever was available in the hall of a primary school. Here are the actual content of the experiment:

NARRATIVE 1: Thin Cities

material: nylon string, paper tape, tape,

props: chair, music stand, playground cones, hanging bar for stage lighting, curtain, stage

tools: knife, sound (guitar, amp, mic), stage lights,

experiment: A single string was suspended from the bar and was tensioned by the weight of the chairs placed on the stage and on the floor. From this string, secondary strings were attached and suspended by being tied to chairs, music stands, curtains or taped to the wall. Playground cones was hang on these strings. The hole in the cones sometimes became joints to connect together two strings. Paper tape was used instead of strings, which became the weak point in the system. All the force within the system was on the initial string and held by the weight of the chairs. As Eugine started playing the guitar, Katie started to interaction with the tension of the system. The set collapsed when to much object was hang from the string and the chairs slipped down to the floor.

reflections: The idea of the movement of the body interacting/interfering with the tension system is simple but effective. The music set the definitive atmosphere and strengthen the condition for movement to happen. The set must be more controlled to reflect the body movement more and enriches the type of movement created. I think there is more opportunity to collect sound from the set. Also it was a shame that we didn’t have helium balloons!

NARRATIVE 2: Mole Man (122 Mortimer Street)

material: N/A

props: stage, curtain

tools: sound (amp, computer), stage lights

experiment: A filmic experiment. Eugene set up the music and concentrated on filming. Darkness was created on the stage by closing all the curtains on the stage. Stage light was turned on. By opening up the curtain at certain point, the stage was partially lit. As she moved I tried to interact with her movement by moving the curtains. The movement of Katie was caught by a video camera, only when she was in the lit space, creating a fragmented documentation of the movement.

reflections: The actual experience of being in a very dark place was interesting. How your eyes start adjusting, how the day light blinds you when you come out. It makes it easier to go into the narrative. The heavy black velvet curtains has an interesting materiality which I can associate with the quietness of the underground and how it consoled Mole Man of his struggles above ground. As a stage set up, more is needed if the narrative(the dance/what develops as performance) purely comes from the physical condition of the set.

NARRATIVE 3: Southbank Telescope

material: N/A

props: table, stage,

tools: sound (guitar, amp)

experiment: The first paragraph of the narrative was experimented, following a rather lengthy discussion. The actions written in the narrative was acted by each of us. It was documented by both  a stationary video camera and hand held video camera.

TAKE 1: performer-Yuko, guitar-Eugene, handicam-Katie

TAKE 2: performer-Katie, guitar-Eugene, handicam-Yuko

TAKE 3: performer-Eugene, guitar-Katie, handicam-Yuko

reflections: The idea of this experiment, the expression of subjectivity and objectivity that exist in a reading of a very personal narrative and stability of an iconic location(Southbank) was simply but effectively translated as a performance. In terms of technique, more of this idea needs to be clarified. I think the two viewpoint created by the two cameras (still and handheld) is an interesting one. It documents two different level of detail. One is a mechanical documentation whilst other is a personal one.

overall reflection: The role each of us play while doing these experiment needs to be more carefully thought out: how we take turns documenting, who performs, what would be automated (eg. music/video recording), etc. I think this is an important issue which defines what we mean by collaboration. Is it just about throwing each other ideas? Or would we all be performing, literally making the performance together? And then what happens to our expertise and skills? Or does this change at different stage of the creative process?


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(Finding) a Stage; individual ideas turning and churning via collaboration

1st theoretical investigations;

examples of what could be called, or involve, a stage; a church, a rock stadium concert, an empty rock stadium, a political rally, a cabaret club. Each of these provides a dramatic environment and potentially interesting soundscapes. I experimented with some sound samples and found the mixing of these environmental sounds over each other or after each other enhanced the concentration on each.

Katie, Eugene and Yuko in discussion                        

From our three way discussion/workshop;

we analysed what is a stage,

a controlled space?

does it need an audience to be a stage?

a platform, a door, a focal point?

real? ritualised, formalised, conventualised.

speakers corner, street performer, corner-shop.

early improvising

Collective A, during a workshop improvisation

material for discussion

notes and material for discussion

Some conclusions to go forward with:

For us to (Find) a stage we decided we need a location and a narrative.

So the next challenge for CollectiveA is to establish three separate pairs of location and narrative to throw into the next chapter of churning and turning collaboration!

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CollectiveA_(Finding a) Stage_Initial Research_real fiction

A linear space lit in the dark

Effect of light and shadows on a tree

Defining stage as a place bounded both in space and time, I have sought for such space in the mundane daily context. By inserting performance(fiction) on this stage, it aims to make the audience engage with their daily environment in a different way.

A quick test to see how to intensify the effect of spot light

By observing the spatial characteristic of conventional stage as a spot of engagement lit by lights in the dark, I started to make connection to the street light in the evening city as a possible condition in the city which can stage a fictional performance.

The dramatic effect of city lights at night was observed and documented by surrealist in ??s Paris. The photography captures a real scene from the city but exaggerates its (dramatic)fictional spatiality, providing a different perspective to the city we dwell in.

photo by Brassai

photo by Andrei Kertesz

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Choosing a theme by lottery organised between us to be the most equitable! Now we have our theme we continue to work with ideas that have evolved around it….. very interesting approaches appearing. Here are my sketches from the theme (Finding a) Stage

Photos Ellie Keeble

Here is a selection of photos where I am asking the question if a ‘found space’ in these cases public space are transformed into a stage simply by placing a performer inside it?

I was intrigued by the idea of (Finding a) as something that is becoming, an activity of searching, with the sense of being unfinished, in process. A still photograph was the best way to show the ‘before and after’ the act of finding and there is also the intention of a live performance that is in sketch form, unfinished and developing live in response to the space I am in.

I like the concept of questioning ‘what is a stage?’ – is it a constructed space to house performances? a dedicated area? marked out on the ground? place where audiences gather around? Is the audience’s presence an integral part of why we call a space a stage?

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Expanded Dance Space

Expanded Dance Space workshop in Portslade, Brighton with choreographer CiCi Blumstein and architect/urban designer Alan Thompson.

Exploring indoor and outdoor walls, defining space and relationships, feelings to spaces/patterns in nature and everyday places.



Exploring in the studio – CiCi and Alan experimenting with measuring tools, and how defining different spaces affect the way we move and feel in those places.

Finding layers of history in the landscape, from ancient spiral trees to remains of 16th Century Church, to the derelict rubble left scattered across the land; overgrown plants and shrubs on these sites form involuntary parks.

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Expanded Dance Space & the private choreography of public space.

Nine interesting presentations were given on the evening of 6th July 2011 during an event at The Basement in Brighton.

Each was brief and concise in Pecha Kucha format: a presentation structure invented by the architectural firm Klein and Dyson. Each presenter is limited to 20 slides (each lasting 20 seconds).

Often the Pecha Kucha format provides a platform for many and various topics but on this occasion the evening had a theme, Expanded Dance and Public Space in association with CiCi Blumstein and Movement 12.

The presenters were informed and experienced in their fields, which included dance/movement/performance/planning/architecture and design.

The following is my impression, recollection and notes of the event…

Paul Zara, an architect and runner, showed images linking these too passions of his in a presentation called Run the City! The ideal way to experience a city is on foot and what better way than whilst running. Paul went further to suggest that during early morning running the empty public spaces can be fully appreciated in a different way to busy day time. The images he showed of Brighton proved this as familiar places were shown in a fascinating new light; that of early morning.

Heidi Saarinen (sister suitcase) works with ‘performance and spatial choreographies’ in the built and and everyday environment. She showed some images of observation and experimentation including some blurred images evoking interesting atmosphere. I liked a comment she made regarding behaviour in public areas, along the lines that if you do something in a space it becomes a place.

The next presentation was by Jim Mayor and I found it very interesting. It was called Emotional Benefits of Good Public Spaces and he was speaking with experience of working for Brighton & Hove Council planning department. I was impressed with his enthusiasm for the importance of the human and emotional aspects of public spaces. He made the observation that road safety policy and rules are normally created by the road users, not by the people who may be most at risk e.g. pedestrians and children. Jim showed images of restrictions and barriers erected to prevent people from interfering with traffic,  this creates limitations to the movement and freedom of people and has negative social affects. Similarly he illustrated streets where children are forbidden to play, whereas what we surely want are streets where children can play, these are the best type of street; communal, safe and vibrant. He made a quote from Jane Jacobs (who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities); ‘..the street is a stage for the ballet of life..’ Jim also illustrated a survey of businesses in a part of Brighton that had been successfully pedestrianised; the vast majority agreed that it had been a success, in that they and their customers felt better, happier. This emotional response seemed more important than the financial aspect of the development.

Next up was Kirk Woolford presenting Motion in Place: Moving Through Public Space. He is a computer scientist who has had an interest in dance. He showed some images from around the world where he has been involved in projects using digital equipment to capture and represent the movement of the human body, including in a historical context. He claimed he was interested in getting people to go to some interesting places but admitted that many of his projects consisted of re-creating the environment for the audience to experience.

CiCi Blumstein  presented Impossible Walls or You Can’t Shoot While You’re Dancing. With images of various walls; paintings, graffiti, venice and urban spaces were included. She urged urban designers to broaden their influences to include choreographers.

Zoe Partington-Solinger provided a presentation entitled Naked Space. This was a fascinating presentation referring to disabled people’s experience of and in the environment. The audience was disorientated at one point when the screen showing her projections went blank, she pointed out that this is the  experience of a visually impaired person in an unfamiliar environment, or indeed any environment. She highlighted the often neglected aspect of the importance of acoustics in architecture and space design, and its importance to the sight impaired population. She pointed out that audio signage and other orientation assistance was often inefficient and that designed spaces would be much easier to navigate if they included aspects to assist the disabled from the outset; instead of later trying to provide guidance and signage through an existing difficult environment. To help this process she suggested that designers and, in fact, everyone have more contact with the disabled. She particularly urged those involved with creativity to ‘hang out’ with disabled people, for mutual benefit, since disabled people are used to being creative; in fact they must be, on a daily basis, in order to survive!

The next presentation caused a hush to come over the audience, it was a harsh and effective example of the importance and wider implications of architecture. Demolishing Homes, Destroying Peace, was the presentation by Terry Meade, a principal lecturer at the University of Brighton. Terry showed images of his experience in Palestine where he was re-building homes demolished by the Israeli army. We saw pictures of an approaching ominous convoy of army vehicles. These surrounded a small square concrete building, that was not much more than a shack but was nonetheless home to an extended family of nine Palestinians. After soldiers removed the contents of the building and put it outside (the inhabitants were not there) a bulldozer demolished the building. Within half an hour nothing of a building remained and the army left. The aggressive action of such power ensuring the destruction of something so pitiful left a lump in my throat. The images that followed helped to restore hope, if only temporarily. Terry and a team of international collaborating workers rebuilt the building! Within a week a building that looked liked an exact replica of the original had been constructed. Terry made it clear that although it was the Israeli army that demolished the building the re-building team consisted of an international mixture including Israelis, Palestinians and others.

Marina Tsartsara had the difficult task of providing the next presentation: The Intimate Public Body. It provided an interesting contrast; Marina is involved with dance and performance, often working site specific with live and recorded material. She showed images of a piece that included projections from cameras placed on performers, so the audience would see the performers point of view at the same time as their own. I was impressed by Marinas bravery (or was it naivety?) at taking performances to outside, possibly hostile environments. We were shown some images of performing outside in Hastings and Dover.

The last presentation of the evening was from Alan Thompson: Ten Observations on Performing a Building. Alan’s experience and knowledge is of Art and Architecture, he showed a presentation linking and illustrating both. From images of cubism we were taken through brief aspects of the history of design. Alan provided an example of a dilemma that I had not considered. The use of environment and movement of the individual within a designed space is not universal. He beautifully described how a king never has the exciting experience of opening a door! Through investigating how the human body can influence a space Alan posed the question could we not dance a building into existence?!

Afterwards I left the building, moving out into the street, along more streets until I eventually entered another building, I felt that I had taken part in movement, environment and existence.

More information and links here…

Eugene McCloskey, July 2011

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Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark

Recently, I went to see Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark at Barbican Art Gallery, London. Here is a review and some thoughts on the experimental work of these pioneering artists.

This is an exhibition looking back at the 1970’s New York art scene when artists across disciplines were working in disused warehouses and other spaces in the city at a time of economic recession. The disciplines span visual arts, music, dance, spoken word, architecture, photography and film, and the exhibition creates a real sense of being in touch with a piece of history.  Below is Laurie Anderson Institutional Dream series, where she is experimenting with whether her dreams differ according to the places she sleeps.

It is very satisfying to see the sketches, notes and thoughts from each artist being displayed, alongside their larger bodies of work, as the 70’s were well known as a time when artists began to reveal the process and the making of their work. Knowing the artists’ work today and seeing their journey from the beginning, exploring their ideas and concepts, makes a bigger impact than just seeing pictures in a history book.

The dimensions within the multiplicity of forms explored make for a rich and far-reaching look into the ideas of the artists, as well as providing a glimpse into their lives, as they lived and worked in downtown New York. There is a freedom of expression and a playful energy in the work by all the artists, a blurring between the art forms, the community, audiences, and life, as in Food by Matta-Clark, shown below. Food was a place where cooking, eating, gathering, discussing among artists and public alike in the community all took place under one roof, a cafe / meeting place for all.

Trisha Brown’s work spanned installation, performance and film, this piece below Planes has the dancers costumes being white on one side and black the other so they are both visible and invisible in relationship to the projected film. This was incredibly effective and an interesting perspective of seeing the relationships to each discipline.

There are comments made to link 1970’s New York to that of London today. The economic climate is similar, as we face a recession in the UK with funding cuts to the arts. Artists now are working within pockets of communities, building networks from the grassroots, with more work online where they can spread and share ideas to wider audiences across countries creating easily accessible projects. With hope this work will continue, the message can only be to keep supporting your fellow artists so we can grow and build our future together.

With this piece of American history, I would like to ask the question – was the art scene in 1970’s London just as fruitful and pioneering? I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this dynamic and experimental work, and now it would be great to see the work and journeys of radical artists in the UK and Europe up to the present day and beyond!

Katie Keeble, June 2011

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Architecture: Fascination with Drawing

2 illustrations from Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte

Illustrations from The Manhattan Transcript by Bernard Tschumi

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Collaborative Creation

Here are some examples of collaborative creative projects that might help our work.

Example 1: An Experiment in Collaboration

6 artists were invited to choose a partner to collaborate. Diagram below shows the general idea of each of the collaboration.

The process of the collaboration is documented as a blog:

This project is very similar to CollectiveA in a sense that they are interested in collaboration itself. The blog is full of questions and thoughts from each of the participants.


Example 2: Beyond Entropy

A theme based collaboration on the topic of Energy. Collaborators were chosen by the coordinator. Each group consisted of three professionals: architect, artist and scientist.


Example 3: Full-Moon Theatre

This interdisciplinary project by Ateliers de Gourgoubes, 1987 – 1993. Ateliers de Gourgoubes is a research body led by theatre director Humbert Camelo. Its members include physicist, artist, musician, writer, choreaographer, dancer, film director, television producer and engineer. This was a site specific collaboration in order to create a theatre purely lit by moonlight. The processionals came together to commit their expertise to achieve one very specific goal.

p 151, An Engineer Imagines, by Peter Rice (Artemis, 1994; Ellipsis, 1996)


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Being confronted by spaces in Detroit

The snow has rendered everything beautiful in Detroit. What remains of a once flourishing society, culture and industry has now become obsolete by force of time. One force of time acts through nature, allowing it to gradually take over the domains of human activity. Another is the momentum of history resulting in the decline of this city. This bareness turns architecture into a monument of tragedy of contemporary America.

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