Lecture (Week 4)

During the first part of this lecture we spent some time discussing the observations that we had made during the week. This led onto a discussion about audience and who we intend to view our project and the issues involved in performing within a street setting as some members of the class are planning on doing.

Found this discussion particularly interesting with regards to our thoughts about our own project because although we are not making a spectacle of ourselves on the street we are inviting other individuals to make a performance out of themselves by partaking in our map walk, although they will not have anything to distinguish them from the rest of the public they are essentially performing. This train of thought made me consider what kind of audience we want to market out project towards. This is something that I will address when I next talk to my group so that we have a clear target group and can start marketing.

During the second half of the lecture we spent some time looking around the library. After much discussion as a group we decided on the area that we want our map to focus on. The Haggerston area of Hackney, near where we met at the ‘Proud archivist’ the previous week. This was because we have been exploring Hackney for a number of weeks now and the location that we have chosen conveys very clearly a series of contrasts; old and new, poor and rich, noise and silence. For this reason we hope that our participants will be able to observe a plethora of differences as well as discovering multiple points of interest.

With this in mind we then delved through the archive in order to locate some maps of the area from years gone by and evaluate and discover the differences.

Here are the differences that we discovered;

Here is what we found:

  • 1870 Map (VIII 27): Independent Gas Works, soup kitchen, India rubber works, Dalston distillery, ice warehouse, stone yard, timber yard, St Mary’s Church, fountain, Shoreditch almshouses, Military Barracks and Imperial Gas Works.
  • 1894-96 Map: Gas Works loss their names, new tramway, Independent Gas Work has grown in size, soda water manufactory/mineral water and gas meter manufactory.
  • 1935 Map: Independent Gas Works has changed, Military Barracks been replaced by LPTB Garage, a school is now located near the Gas Works, factories still there, St Mary’s Church still there, Haggerston Swimming Baths have been built, Shoreditch Power Station been built and the canal has changed from Regents to Grand Union.
  • 1938 Map: Queens Road becomes Queensbridge Road, Gas Works extended, buildings gone but factories still there.
  • 1953 Map: Ruins, new playground and Haggerston Basin is gone.

Below are some images of that maps that we located;

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Lecture (Week 3)

During this lecture we went to an Arts venue/café called the Proud Archivist.

Information about the Proud Archivist

The Proud Archivist is built around an engaging and versatile concept – designed and programmed to echo, emulate and revive the traditions of London’s grand 17th & 18th century coffee houses.

Bringing together a simple café / bistro offering alongside & within a gallery / library aesthetic – and overlaid with a diverse fringe cultural and community programming, we want to reflect and represent the interests and passions of the people who make up our area.

A home of conversation, conviviality and stimulation, we want to  become a thriving cultural & entertainment hub at the heart of the community.

Below is an image of the Proud Archivist. The café is in a beautiful location next to the Hackney waterways. I found the atmosphere of the café incredibly welcoming despite the fact that we were a group of ‘Tourists’ in café full of ‘Regulars’.

View from the staircase at The Proud Archivist (c) Luke Hayes

We then went on a walk through the area around us. I decided to go on this walk with Kayleigh and Laura as we found a connection between my theme of noise in London and the idea of what you hear when you say nothing at all and their idea about using a map or mapped walk of the area.

Throughout our walk we took photos and assessed the surrounding area. We found that the area was very quiet and beautiful a massive Juxta-Position from the previous walks that I have been on although there was most definitely still the dull roar of London in the background.

We also found that the area was very residential, there were many flats old and new upon further research I found that the area has undergone

Below are some images from our walk;

This is a map that we found on our walk this was of particular interest to us because we are intrigued by creating a Map as part of our project. The map was located along side St Regent Cannel.

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The area where we found these ducks were the quietest on our walk and reminded me of my childhood. This links to the idea that place and evoke memory responses.

Here a few pictures of Maps that we found along the way, this is something that we are now very interested in as a group.

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Below is an image of a ‘Peace Wall’ a place were the residents of Hackney can and have displayed art work. I found this project particularly intriguing as it represents a running theme that has come apparent to me about London people are obsessed with finding ‘Peace’ whatever that might mean.

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When we arrived back at the Proud Archivist we made a map of our walk. We then discussed our map and others. It was incredibly interesting to examine the other maps and the hidden meaning behind what everybody created, it was interesting to find that people had created objects out of pre-existing maps one group even created the people from there walk out of a London A-Z this was intriguing the idea of the body as a human map.

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Below is a recording of the conversation our group had about the progression of our project.

Lecture (Week 2)

Today we examined the Tompkins reading;

We concluded the following primary points;

  • Site-specific theatre is a widely contested term that takes on multiple interpretations
  • Tompkins examines the main expressions within Site-Specific theatre ‘Place’ and ‘space’ he looks at what makes a ‘space’ a ‘place’ and how they can be used in a way that does not contradict the authenticity of the area.
  • Tompkins acknowledges the idea that for a performance to be termed Site-specific the has to be a relationship between not only the site and the performer but also the audience.

The next topic of discussion was the daily walks that we embarked upon, and how we chose to record them.

I found in particularly interesting that everyone made a similar observation about the noise that was present throughout their journeys. One comparison that really interested me was peoples perception of greenery in London most observed as a welcome break from the ‘Concrete Mass’.

This conversation has made me consider how I can make comparisons within my project. The one thing that has become apparent through my research is that there is an issue with finding ‘Peace and Quiet’ in the big smoke. With this in mind I have decided to base my project around silence an explore how this contrasts with the busy chosen site of the Hackney Borough.

After out in class discussion about the previous weeks tasks we talked a little bit about the work of Willie Dorner and Vallie Export.

The Artists themselves tend to look at the human form in urban environments, this is of course of particular interest to myself as I am a human form in an urban environment. This has made me consider the different ways in which we can be considered by others when walking around the areas in which we live.

Below are some images from the artists;

We then visited Hoxton Hall where we got to learn about the history from one of the staff members.

It was interesting to find about the community side of the building and hear about its historical value, it also posed a few questions;

  • What makes a community?
  • Who is my project going to be for?
  • What can I take from the area?
  • What can I give to the area?

Below are some images of Hoxton Hall:

Internal Journeys

As we have decided on the theme of maps I have decided that I want to look at internal journeys and maps subsequently I decided to take an internal journey.

I looked through YouTube to locate a recording of someone leading you through an internal journey the bellow is my response to this;

It took me a long time to relaxed into the experience but when I did  I made my way through never ending fields full of luscious grass I began to feel safe and warm, at the mention of a distant figure someone walked in the room and because I was trying to focus I kept my eyes closed However because I could not see them and I had been previously so relaxed I became nervous and jumpy continuing the rest of my journey with my eyes open, this made it difficult to detach myself from my location however it was still possible to imagine the situations and locations being described.

Upon meeting the figure I realised that it was my Grampy Wilkins walking his dogs we had a brief conversation in which we talked about a Robyn sat of a tree and how unseasonal it was. Upon my departure I felt slightly lonely in the weather became slightly cooler I felt my body instinctively a pulled my body into itself, at this point I felt comfortable enough to close my eyes again as I made a journey down a narrow country lane, at the end of which was large concrete building that closely resembled a prison, it was starting to cloud over so I decided to go inside, upon entry it became apparent that the building was empty this marks the end of my journey.

I could no longer concentrate so I ended my journey part way through, I was also struggling with detaching myself from my actual location.

The main thing I noticed through this journey was that I found myself recalling a memory as opposed to creating a new journey or a path.

This made me consider practitioners who have previously examined memory and performance in community settings and how this could relate to our own Site-Specific project.

Within the book Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. The practitioners explore the idea that community performance can and should link to those who partake in it. He also looks at the idea of sharing stories within a community of any kind offers recognition of the past as well creating individual and are identities.

In terms of our own piece I feel that it important to recognise that it is not only Site-Specific project it also resonates with the community theatre branch, it will be intriguing to discover the different stories and memories that are explored during our project. I do not in any way want to stifle the area but instead allow it to speak to us I want to project to belong to the participants. This concept also links to the ethics of having audience participants something that I don’t want to ignore subsequently I have looked at the work of Gareth White who explores the difficulties when transferring audience members from passive to active. He talks about the embarrassment inherent in being asked to perform particularly in front of other people. We are aware of this issue but have allowed room for it by creating an inclusive project in which nobody will be expected to perform individually instead we will be facilitating conversation and it is not a requirement to speak at all.

Govan, E., Nicholson, H. and Normington, K. ‘Narratives of Community’ in Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. London: Routledge

Potlatch, Psychogeography, Dérive and Détourement

Ford, S. (2005) ‘Potlatch, Psychogeography, Dérive and Détourement’, in The Situationist International: A User’s Guide. London: Black Dog Publishing, pp. 33-37.

This reading examines the different relationships that individuals have with sites. It states three main areas Psychogeography,Dérives, Détourement. It is claimed within the journal that these terms were discovered based on the act of Urban Living.

Psychogeography involves the relationships that individuals have with space, in terms of memory and claim on the place in which you are currently inhabiting, this can be a journey. This is addressed by the act of a Dérive which describes the intentional act of loosing yourself in a space in order to discover it and understand it from multiple perspectives. Finally the term  Détourement pays reference to the idea of using the everyday acts within a space to create artistic content.

Critical Analysis

This reading is useful with regards to our own project as it presents the individuals influence on site and relationship to it. The concept that each person has a different interpretation of a space and different stories to tell is something that is prevalent to our project. We want individuals to explore their own experiences of the project through and the area through a silent walk and individual reflections on their own walk. Because of my interest in the idea that individuals can affect site I found a further reading that addresses the concept of Psychogeography. (Find the link below)

http://erstlaub.co.uk/ntc/The%20Invisible%20Kingdom.pdf

An interesting element of this reading is the distinguishing between the term space and place. Place referring to the geography of the area and Space referring to human attachment to a place. This concept has been explore by multiple practitioners below is a series of point regarding a reading that I have previously studied by Lucy Lippard;

Place in connection to belonging (interesting as theatre communities offer a place in which people belong)

  • Cultural connections to place.
  • Places defined by memory (when does a place stop being a place when nobody can recall the memories associated with the place in question?)
  • Can the importance/significance of a place be diminished in modern day life? What happens when dictated history is not enough to place the importance of a place?
  • Preservation of cultures crucial to questions about the relationships between the people and the land.
  • Land having connections to the emotional and Aesthetic.
  • Land giving us identities
  • Land marks out in place in order to bring us back to ourselves and give ourselves identity
  • Art practice that reveals meaning to a place for those who live there
  • Reinstate the mythical and cultural experiences in order for the public to witness
  • Post-Modernism
  • The difference between using a place for main stream Art and telling a story of the place for all the public to see.

Critical Analysis

In relation to our own project this issue of what the difference between place and space is and what can and should be performed in the public is important. Because our project is presented by people who are not from the area we don’t want to appropriate the area and create a piece of art that is just performed in a public space instead we want to imbed it into the area as a result we have taken roles a facilitators as opposed to performers.

Site Specific Performance – Mike Pearson

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillian

Pearson focuses his work on the different approaches that one can take to Site-Specific performance. Pearson suggests that in order to explore a ‘Site’ fully you must ask questions and put yourself in different situations in order to fully appreciate it and locate ‘Hidden Histories’ within it. Pearson believes that physical land should be merged with the community who live on it and from it.

Pearson offers a practical approach called the 11th week approach that explains different ways in which artists can practically engage with a site in order to understand it more fully and gain different perspectives on the area.

Bubbling Tom

I have previously studied some practical work that Pearson has presented ‘Bubbling Tom’ please find an explanation of this below;

Pearson, M. (2006) ‘Bubbling Tom’, in In Comes I. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, pp. 21-29.

Bubbling Tom is a site specific solo performance by Pearson, it tells the story of his childhood through a guided tour. He visits 10 locations and tells of his past, he tries to emphasise the importance of place when it comes to memory through the use of multiple locations.

He uses archaeology in order to represent his experiences, he uses photographs and maps of how the areas used to be in order to bring the past into the present. He even uses scars on his body.

Pearson states that he was drawn to Site specific performance and solo performance because of the emphasis it places on voice, the importance of the teller (tone, speed pitch) and the way in which the teller engages with the audience as a direct result of speech be that of learned text or simply conversation.

Pearson and our project

Pearson’s work is interesting in the development of our own project as we are looking at taking our participants on a walk. As a result of this reading I desire our project to keep a strong connection to the land that it takes place on. Subsequently I feel that research in to the histories of various landmarks will give participants an aim while still giving them freedom to roam. It will also allow them to consider the area for what it was and get a sense of both past and present.

 

Performing Site-Specific Theatre

Tompkins, J. (ed.) (2012) ‘The ‘Place’ and Practice of site-Specific Theatre and Performance’, in Birch, A. (ed.) Performance Site-Specific Theatre: Politics, Place, Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Main Points;

  • Deconstruction of sites
  • It is not necessarily what you can see but what you cant see
  • Take information and reconfigure it

This chapter is used to introduce the concept of Site-Specific theatre. He explores the idea that site-specific theatre can be interpreted in many different ways and there are multiple blurred lines regarding it overall meaning. However he does inform the reader categorically that the practice involves communication between place, performer and participant.

Tompkins spends this introductory chapter to define various terms, firstly he looks at that definition of ‘place’ In order to do this he examines different contexts in which a ‘place’ can be examined. Firstly he looks at Geography stating that this allows us to recognise and acknowledge the physical changes of an area. He also then goes and looks at social and historical contexts of a ‘place’ because it cannot simply be defined by its physical being.

This introductory chapter observes the questions prevalent in performing site specific theatre by looking beyond the fundamental difficulties behind addressing a site into the different ways that a space can be interpreted.

Critical evaluation

This introductory chapter was very intriguing and got me thinking about the creation of a project in Hackney. The main point that I have taken away is that it is important to be aware of my surroundings and allow them to influence my project without dictating its content.