FORMING A SOCIOLOGY OF REACTION TO PUBLIC URBAN SPACE THROUGH PRACTICE AND PERFORMANCE OF EMBODIED REACTIONARY EXPRESSION.
PRACTISING SPACE RESEARCH LAB BEATRICE JARVIS
SEEKING TO CREATE A SPACE TO ENABLE AUDIENCE TO DEVELOP NARRATIVE ENVIRONMENT EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL AND KINESTHETIC RESPONSES TO THE URBAN REALM
A COMMON SPACE FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EMBODIED REACTION THE ACT OF FRAMING A CONSIDERED RESPONSE TO THE INTRACIES OF INTERACTION WITHIN PUBLIC URBAN SPACE Beyond mimicry, this practice seeks to create an intimate portrayal of personal reaction to the city; with the emphasis on archiving experience through the movement of the body and through photographic documentation and artistic practice Beyond a repetition of daily gestural movement which the quotidian daily life may promote; this work seeks to develop a unique series of narrative portraiture.
‘The task of sociology is to provide a diagnosis of the social world and how it is organised; but also; it involves listening to what goes on behind the public façade, attending to ways that people achieve a ‘bit of humanness in a world become inhuman.’1
Through observation and active interaction with public urban space; this work seeks to generate a ‘strict’ movement vocabulary in which the self functions as site; as conveyor of a unique series of personal journeys seeking to define on both a public and private level the nature of the relationship of the body to the city. The body here becomes thus a political and social subject as well as a moving form, articulating the realities of personal understanding of the social reality in which one exists. I would like to utilise this process to raise the issue; can such creative material become social resource? If sociology is the understanding of daily life, and forms of creative practice can articulate a wider social dialogue and comprehension; then does this allow such practices to become a ‘sociological resource’? Neither sociology nor art practices can be divorced from the realities of daily life - the issue rests in how such structures and interactions are re-presented and explored. The whole heartedly engaged researcher and artist finds in their discipline and the fruits of their research a means to navigate a route through the world. The complex relationship between sociology, and the sociological function of the arts as a mechanism to cultivate particular stands of social value and hence become socially useful product and development mechanism. Yet such social ‘usefulness’ can mean that the actual art work itself becomes a secondary concern which may contradictory to the intentions of the maker; as Zolberg problematises ‘Because of sociologists concern with the social, the art works themselves become lost in the search for understanding society and end up as virtual by-products.’2 As Becker alerts; ‘All artistic work, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number of people.’3 The complex matrix network of societal interaction which allows an art work to form; be received and reviewed is expansive; notions of the individual become redundant; as seminal to a project’ success is the network by which it is supported. However as Becker suggests such a complex network should not detract from the significance of the initial conception of an art work; ‘The artist thus works in the centre of a network of cooperating people, all of whose work is essential to the final outcome.’ 4 Such a perspective of collective authorship facillates a vision of artistic production with minimal preoccupation with authenticity and ownership; due to the collaborative structure of production such a concept is particularly useful when exploring the potential for social and physical change as a direct and indirect result of artistic documentation and intervention. The social chain by which an object/ artwork will be manifested and reviewed cannot be divorced from the process by which it is initially conceived.
Inclusive of quote from Ardent. Men in Dark Times. P 23. Sourced in Back. L. ( 2007) The Art of Listening. Berg. New York P 167 Zolberg. V. ( 1990 ) Constructing a Sociology of the Arts. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. P 54 Becker. H. ( 1984) Art Worlds. University of California Press. California. P1 4 Becker. H. ( 1984) Art Worlds. University of California Press. California. P25 2 3
PRACTICE • Arrive to location- ( an open vessel; yet loaded with an awareness of self context) What does the space necessitate you to do; how do you react to the space; what is the punctum of the space for you; how do you relate to the space; who are the characters of the space; how do you relate to the space and how can this be seen in your own response to them? Allow these questions to take time; allow your own history and context to arrive to the space; how does this allow you to react to the space; how far can you reactions be seen as a reaction to the space or as a reaction to yourself; how can a differentiation between these two stances of reaction be marked; can you forcibly separate these and can you forcibly enable these relationships to merge as a personal cohesive reaction to the space and your own context? • Perspective – ( stable in your own ability, your own body, your own perspective) Play with your position in the space; first with your self; are you a pedestrian passing through the space? (in the context of this exercise, probably not ) What do you want your position to be? A dancer? a performer? An observer? Do you want to be discreet? Do you want to demand the attention of the space? How might you do this? What are the social codes of the space you occupy? How far are you certain that these are entrenched in the space or you are allowing them take ownership of the social behaviour codes of the space? These codes are perhaps the means by which a social
(and political order) are maintained; what is of seminal importance for the purpose of this work is a consciousness as to your relationship with these social codes; in active adherence or dismissal to these codes; what remains seminal is how far you are engaged with the reality that these ‘rules’ construct. Others- Once you have established a sense of ‘play’ with the social codes of the space; allow your attention to become more external; whilst still maintaining an awareness of your own position, initially observe how others are presenting and representing themselves in the space; how are they using the space; what reality are they constructing around their presence in the space, play with how far you use as stimulus for your own patterns of behaviour in the space; play with reaction in the form of adherence and dismissal, at times this could form a duet with a stranger who may or may not you know you are responding and reacting with them. Mixture- Alternate your perspective in the space; from internal self reflection; your own position within the space; play with the boundaries between these positions states of awareness and how far you can you ease the transition between these positions, allowing your own position to become concrete within the reality you are confronted. • Character development ( cementing a solo from process of interaction and observation) From the process you have journeyed from; take the necessary time to form a concrete series of movement developed from the process of interaction and observation; this should be allowed to develop into a short solo of your response to the location within a selected point within the location. Rehearse this until you feel settled in the character you have
developed (character may be yourself, or may be the result of merging fragments of movement behaviour you have derived from the space) â€˘ Micro performance in location: ( after short sharing of information we will perform these short solos collectively in close proximity) At first do not make an effort to consciously adapt your prepared solo with others in the space; keep to the vocabulary you have developed and allow this to be an internal reflection of your process. After a few experiments of this, we shall merge the characters in a short improvisation series which we will formulate collectively.
• reactionary responses through the body • re-evaluating the social codes of the built environment • the body as archive ( personal and social) • creation of movement vocabulary as observational practice • intimate emphasis on developing reaction of personal stance towards position of the body within the built environment • the state between reflection and revealing reflection and observation through embodied movement practice • collecting and gathering movement material for character development • process of collective and personal responses to space developed into a series of ‘performative’ improvisations. •
developing an emotional aesthetic for the body within the built environment
DOCUMENTATION â€˘ Internal Documentation: The body as container and site, forming a series of self portraits through movement creation ( these may not ever even be seen) â€˘ External Documentation: Documentation as means of conveying process (realism) (film, sound, drawing, authentic writing, stop motion, interviews, public reactions) Documentation as art work ( as product) Photography, Film, Sound, Sculpture, Drawing, Sewing, Text, any media to reflect personal and external process; this can be seen with no contact to working site or working process.
The documentation process bridges the reality of the immediacy and subjective nature of this practice; presenting the immediate realities of the practice and moving on to develop art works which serve as a more permanent rendition of an ephemeral process.
The reader, viewer or audience is actively involved in the construction of art work and without the act of reception / consumption, the cultural product is incomplete.’5 I would like this working process to generate material which can be used as stimulus to address the following matters: • • • • • •
• • •
How far can creative practices serve as a method of socio-political communication of the position in society? Can teaching and various processes of knowledge transfer develop tangible works of art in themselves? How far can socially engaged practices allow subsequent audiences to develop modes of cultural understanding? How can multidisciplinary arts practices and site projects formulate a sociological knowledge base which can be used as source material for subsequent application beyond the boundaries of arts practices? How can social and ecological engagement within creative practices stabilise the position of the arts as tool for cultural understanding which also function in an economically viable fashion? With the notion Sacks suggests; ‘practice-based strategies for coming closer to our own lives and the world around us: listening and hearing strategies; strategies for uncovering agendas, for shifting attention; strategies for encountering our values, our attitudes and our presuppositions; strategies for entering what is difficult and for discovering what each person feels needs addressing’ what are the potential practice based research methodologies the socially engaged practioner should explore? How can the socially engaged schema of intentionality by which an artist has created their objet (material/embodied/ephemeral) be fully determined by the receiver? How do concepts of social sculpture become fully embodied with both ideology and practice? What are the potential ‘gaps’ which may appear in this dialog between process and product? Can creative action stimulate social reconciliation? Can an image function as a mode of activism? Can creative activities facillate a voice for the politically ‘unheard’?
Wolfe. J. ( 1984) The Social Production of Art. New York University Press. New York. P93
OUTCOMES • PERFORMANCE: SITE • PERFORMANCE: BLACK BOX ( SEE DIAGRAM) • CHARACTER STUDIES FOR FILM WORK • EXHIBITION: DOCUMENTATION AS ART WORK • TEXTS: SERIES OF CREATIVE RESPONSES TO WORKING PROCESS IN WIDER CONTEXT
BLACK BOX CHARACTER STUDY PERFORMANCE: • TAKING CHARACTERS DEVELOPED FROM SITE INTO STUDIO SETTING AS MEANS TO FURTHER EXPLORE THE BODY AS ARCHIVE FOR EXPERIENCE OF THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT: HOW FAR CAN CHARACTERS EXIST AND MOVEMENT BE CONSOLIDATED AWAY FROM ORIGINAL STIMULUS AND RESOURCE. • DEVELOPING INTERACTION AND SCENARIOS BETWEEN CHARACTERS TO FORM ORIGINAL PERFORMANCE RESPONSE • THE SETTING OF THE BLACK BOX CONCENTRATES FOCUS ON THE BODY AS ARCHIVE AND RESOURCE.
Movement research lab details. All information and images copyright to Beatrice Jarvis ©