Seminar discussion and further research.

During Friday’s seminar, we discussed “framing the performance” and “thresholds”. I found the example of the artwork in a gallery very helpful as I understand that the threshold is the picture and that the elegant frame is what makes the artwork look more presentable.  As a group, we came up with the idea that the headphones could be the threshold before the performance, for example, just like an audience member walking through the doors of the theatre, the headphones are a different form of entrance and are a metaphor for the feeling of an audience member walking through the door. There are many possible frames for our performance and that could be the costumes, Lincoln city itself but mainly, the walk during the performance.

In her essay Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag mentions something that I believe is relevant to our performance development. She suggests that  “it is the defence of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory”. She argues that, today, interpretation over-powers content and that “developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content” (Sontag, 1961).

The reason I think this text is relevant is because one of the main focuses in a site-specific performance is obviously the site, the form and the way in which the performance connects to the site. However, the content within our site-specific performance is equally as important. Although we have been focussing on how we will be performing our piece and making it relevant to the site, the content in which we will be including takes over the importance of the walk through Lincoln and how we interpret the characters and performance. We will be providing historical information about events and people in the war, and therefore this content will be of more interest to the audience. Also, during the seminar, we discussed “space and place” and that a place is something we have to construct for it to mean something. The walk during our performance may not be completly relevent but the content that we will be including in our performance throughout the walk is interesting and therefore in our case, the space and place of the performance does mean something.

My point is that, if the audience don’t understand the relevance of the walk (the space and place) during the performance, the content will be what they find interesting and the walk is just a form of performance, therefore I mostly agree with what Susan Sontag suggests but in the case of our performance, form and content are equally important.

Sontag, S. (1961) Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Amy Clarke

One thought on “Seminar discussion and further research.

  1. Amy, it is good that you are thinking about the work in terms of thresholds, space and place. In relation to the artwork and the frame, it is not only abut presenting something, but also about expectation, and creating a sense of importance around the work. The painting can be considered a threshold into some ‘other’ place, just as a door can be a threshold in to another place too. It is good that you are connecting these things to your own use of thresholds, please continue to develop this. It is great to see you working with the Sontag text, and although I think you need to explore this text further to develop your understanding of content and form, I can see that you are working through links and applying Sontag’s ideas to your own way of thinking about your work. Please keep reading and expanding on your ideas because both your writing and your practice will develop as you do so. Well done.

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