performances of Everything That Rises Must Converge
eviscerate the nervous system. The performance is a control
system that lays bare the innerworkings of language and consciousness.
The innocent eye
is essentially the pinhole through which one perceives. What
the eye focuses on has as much to do with physical as well
as mental processes occurring on both sides of it. Both sides
are in a constant and sometimes hostile state of educative
communication. They are positioned in a line of communication
that extends itself within a chain of command struggling to
find meaning in itself. The human struggle to get from the
inside to the outside and bring the outside to the inside
is full of detours, pitfalls and discoveries in interpretation.
There is a constant search for the correct translation.
Our original mediators,
language, sound, vision, smell, touch, have been compounded
by the addition of other mediators in the form of cameras,
imitations, reproductions, recordings. In an almost organic
way these mediators reproduce themselves at an astonishing
speed. As we have discovered new mediators in an effort to
understand ourselves, it has made things clearer and more
confusing at the same time. The sophisticated and sometimes
brutal techniques in which we present and filter information
in our ordinary, contemporary reality is certainly an influence
on my work.
One of the main
concerns in my work is the use of spoken language and its
structure. The many levels and layers through which a thought
struggles to become words and language constantly reinvigorate
communication. Also important to me is the relationship of
content to sound and rhythm and how these reflect the impulses
of thought and emotion.
In a sense the
use of media is one step further away from the brain than
the spoken word. But in other ways it seems one step closer
because we are capable of making it dissect the very language
that set it into motion. It sees and remembers more than our
physiology allows our sanity. We can even attempt to catch
it and return to its natural internal origins. It is a reflection
of the sophisticated techniques our minds use to decipher,
edit, reconstruct, contrive and adapt our personal and collective
realities. These techniques are primal, (automatic?). We are
constantly looking for their origins.
Language and media
seem natural partners and enemies. My interest is in their
co-existence, their frictions and the humans caught in between.
The background of my relationship with media began long before
I incorporated it into my theater work. I spent three years
as a "television content analyst" at CBS which consisted of
watching four hours of prime time network television a day.
Gleaning from it information
on violence and social attitudes for larger studies on the
effects of mass communication conducted by the Social Research
From there I went
to the other side of the tube as the assistant to the producer
of the Dick Cavett show then broadcast by PBS. The Cavett
Show consisted of taped half
hour interviews, generally one on one with the host. The work
at CBS exposed me to perhaps the most crass elements of media
use. The Cavett show deeply involved me with the other side
of the spectrum. It was a language based program, which, although
containing its fair share of manipulations, was quite pure
in its direct, unedited style, motives, and the broadcast
of personalities and information.
involvement in this work influenced my work greatly in terms
of my attitude toward media and the ways I was to use it later
in my theater/media productions. At CBS I realized that much
television is not only a creation of the network producers
but a reflection of and a collaboration with the society it
"served." I came away with the thought that although these
shows service the audience, the media itself, in its largest
and most anonymous form, was itself serviced by the audience.
It was watching us.
The minute we turn
on our set we are connected to, influenced and disciplined
by a large system. The Cavett show introduced me to a kind
of television that is basic in its vision and intent, almost
pure video. Of course it's content could be altered and structured
but the show itself was about content. Content based on language
and faces with a very limited amount of camera angles and
techniques. Within that limitation I saw an endless stream
of content available to the audience.
From this I became
aware of the power of the words themselves over image. The
words and conversations were infinite in their variety. It
was a construction made of electricity, cameras, light and
faces. The conversations could be as complicated as the prime
time shows were in their constantly moving, shifting, visual
and aural techniques. Both of these uses of media collided
in my work.
As a filmmaker
I began to wish for a way of breaking the relentless inevitability
of a spool of film/video unrolling. I began my first pieces
as attempts to make films without filming them. To take everything
one could put through the lens of a camera and present it
live. The audience would be the camera and film. An innocent
eye freed from the eyepiece of the camera. It was an architecture
of all the elements needed for a film. Script, actors, film
techniques (jump cuts, fragmentation of time, bird's eye views,
etc.) became the structure of the pieces.
I moved into creating
fully integrated theater pieces containing simultaneously
synchronized interacting pieces of film and live performance.
What held these elements together was the language. Verbal
and visual interaction between screen and performers became
as natural in my pieces as interaction between live performers.
The video/film could not be separated from the live content.
It became a very complicated sandwich. Live and prerecorded
work could constantly connect each other. Over all there was
an underlying and constant tension between them. An uneasy
truce that always seemed on the verge of breaking down.
skirted the edge of chaos because the timing and speed of
the language shared by live and recorded actors was so tightly
knit. There was no way in or out after the piece began. It
became a friction between naturally expanding live performing
actors and strictly edited pieces of video/film. The language
was so freely interspersed between the live and the recorded
that the audience had to decide what and when to look.
In general, theater
audiences found this an unwelcome intrusion. Any sense of
reality created in the theater was constantly called into
question. (A feeling I always have when I watch television.)
The content of the pieces at times became directly related
to the actual struggle of the actors as they worked to maintain
a common ground with their own mediated images. This also
brought the use of actors into question. Are they mediated
images? How much are they programmed in any theater piece?
Are they prisoners of the order of the words they have memorized?
How much freedom to do they have within these constraints?
In a film do the rules allow them to be edited visually/verbally?
and if this is allowed in film is it also allowed in theater?
.The terror of living in a sandwich for an hour and a half
surrounded by the seemingly passive/aggressive presence of
the video/film talking image was transferred to the audience.
A recorded image
has been scrutinized and recorded by a camera as well as by
a single human eye and then again by the audiences eyes.
The recorded human image also has the quality of scrutinizing
the audience itself. It takes in the scene through seemingly
dead eyes and through a face that appears to speak and think.
These human images in particular open up vast territories
for actors in the minute movements of facial and body movements
and vocal fluctuations. These are generally not perceived
on stage but on screen. It becomes a combination of stage
and film acting. The acting becomes more intimate. One sees
an actor inhabiting a larger theatrical space and at the same
time speaking within a very small area. Face to face as it
were with the audience.
I also began using
live cameras in several different positions to reveal and
conceal the live action from all participants, audience included.
The presence of live recording cameras transmitting simultaneously
allow for more spontaneous and intimate activities rather
than inhibiting them. Certainly physical space may be constricted
but within that small space opens up a newer world of expression.
As a microscope
peers into small areas of reality only to find larger and
larger universes within smaller and smaller fragments. Actors
begin to do things they have never done before particularly
with facial movements. The concentration becomes very precise.
When restrictions seem their harshest I find that actors always
find a way of creating variations if ever so minute. For the
actors, I realize that within what appears to be the pressure
is a tremendous amount of creativity, calm and freedom. These
are extremely perceptive creations to break an imposed pattern
This breaking of the pattern always has some effect on the
rest of the structure and so it shifts and changes and in
doing so new paths are discovered. Camera angles, live editing,
focuses shift to accommodate imagination
For me, the urge
to use media comes from an area found deep in a pre-language
state. I also find that my tendency towards words comes from
this same area. In all, it is a process which begins somewhere
before writing, continues through writing and ends as something
which is neither film, video, literature or theater because
it has elements of all these languages.
Do these languages
begin separately? Or do they begin as one and then separate
to continue their life outside the brain? For me, the main
concern is to get them back together. I find that despite
obvious frictions, (what works on the inside doesn't always
work on the outside) an almost musical relationship between
voice,words and media allows these elements to be attracted,
reunited, reorganized in their performance.