Talking about FINGER Performance…

Interviewed by Hannah Dean on CKLN this morning about tonight’s FINGER performance at SoundPlay (8 pm, Theatre Direct’s Christie Studio, Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie #170, Toronto). Some really good conversational threads emerging about the re-defining of performance in the age of electroacoustic/digital technology; the role of the body in laptop-driven performance; the struggle to accept ‘liveness’  as something which itself accepts (and even embraces) technical failure as a deep-seated echo of ‘the sacrifice’ in ritual and spectacle. It’s the uncomfortable thrill audiences receive in watching someone fuck up onstage. A moment like that is truly alive – because in that moment, artifice and representation fall apart. Reality smashes the window and forces everyone to improvise until balance and control are restored. Ultimately, that same audience also wants to be captivated by virtuosity.

Hannah asked me to name my influences…who else does this kind of work? For some reason, I thought of Bob Ostertag’s writing (Human Bodies, Computer Music and others) and his acknowledgement that tension and struggle are key themes in all of his work. Isn’t a performance largely about witnessing a personal, physical struggle of some kind? To make all the right moves in the heat of a moment; to lose oneself to (or to give oneself over to) the music that’s being made in the moment. I couldn’t help but also think about the stage craft of Bryan Ruryck.

One last question – what, if anything, in this FINGER show is structured? Other than our assigned, physical tasks during the show, it’s only the timeline that Cam’s (McKittrick) computer follows as it collects, parses and conditions streams of data generated by our physical interactions with the sensors and materials of the show. This ‘brain’ runs along with us in the background like a ghost – somewhat reminiscent of the ‘ghost electronics’ compositions of Morton Subotnick. The system runs imperceptibly deep in the background, inaudible itself but forever modulating the audio-visual consequences of my/our physical activity – even to the point where (potentially) the system decides to punch-out for the day and leave me/us hanging in the wind?

The next likely stop with all this – the drum kit and National Exit Strategy.

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Author: Richard Windeyer

digital music / design / performance

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