Saturday, September 5, 2009

John Curall-Intro to Participation

In theater, we have a term called the "fourth wall". It describes an imaginary wall between the performers and the audience. The performers cannot "cross" that wall if they want to maintain the illusion of the performance. This explicitly involves a separation between audience and performer. Many performances and art forms seek to involve the audience member more. In order to do this, the performer or audience member must cross that imaginary wall thus allowing the audience member to feel like they are participating in what's going on. This can be done in simple ways like having the performer directly address the audience or by having the audience member on stage with the performers. Increasingly many people want to feel like they are a "star" too and the idea of participation my well have started that trend. One only need look at the proliferation of so called "reality" shows or the narcissism of sites like Twitter. Do we really to see what "joe schmo" is doing every second of the day? Or the the annoying shallow and unintelligent offerings of the latest "reality" crap on tv. What happened to watching shows with the creativity of writers and true talent performers. I think sometimes in our need to feel like we are "participating" we can loose site of the "art" we were originally seeking to create in the first place and replaced it with a shallow shadow of it's former self. I am all for engaging the audience and making a connection with them, but I really don't need to watch some shallow wannabe in the place of more creative performances. I think sometimes we forget that art is something special that should be appreciated and not simply another way to make ourselves feel special. Perhaps instead of erasing that "fourth wall" entirely we need to be looking at ways to just make it more malleable. Like replacing a solid line with a dotted one. Participation can go too far. I for one am sick of the "garbage" that has resulted.

Intro of Participation

Prompt: "What are some of the ways that participatory art differs from individually produced art, historically and in the present?"

> The introduction of the book Participation surprise me. It is entirely scholarly and academic, which were not my expectations. According to Claire Bishop. The ways that participatory art differs from individually produced art is that it entails a "social dimension". As Bishop explains, participatory art tries to close the gap between the viewer and the work of art. She sites the Dada-Season when Parisians became part of an improvisational play, despite the inclimate weather. Bishop also describes the Storming of the Winter Palace which included 8,000 participants in a recreation of the October Revolution, including a celebration.

A key sentence Bishop includes is on page 11, "physical involvement is considered an essential precursor to social change." While this may not apply directly to art, it does explain the importance of physical involvement in art as a mode of larger societal change. Another fascination which I am eager to read more about is Ranciere's arguments and the discrepancies between 'active' and 'passive', and what that means for the artist community and the viewers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Class Scribe 9/1

On 9/1, we went over the basics of class and were told what to expect. Throughout the semester we will have 3 projects, 2 Design Studies and one term paper. We will have reading ever class. Reading for Thursdays will be lighter than for Tuesdays. We will also need to blog for each reading. Finally, we were posed the question, "How do new technologies reconfigure our cultural, economic, political, and personal experience?"