statements from today and thinking about the original

These were the statements regarding the question of documentation from today’s session:

  • performance’s life is in the present. Its ontology (nature) – and perhaps strength – is expressed through disappearance (Phelan 1993).
  • ways of knowing and experiences are deeply embodied in the liveness of the performance events themselves
  • we are responsible for communication and preservation (Rye, 2003)
  • the unrecorded has no value (objects of knowledge, economies of reproduction) (McQuire, 1998)
  • there is no such thing as pure “live” performance, and liveness is only a *thing* because recording technologies came into being (Auslander, 1999)

thinking about the original

  • the term documentation can assume simplistic relationship to the original
  • that live performance is real, original or true, and documentation is a poor cousin
  • what if the temporal relationship between performance and documentation is not as simple or obvious as you might imagine?
  • what if documentation’s primary role is no longer preservation?

some key things to consider (or takeaway?)

  • if the terms of documenting practice (or performance) are open, then how does writing fit into the picture?
  • basic project would have three key surfaces: artwork, traces of this artwork, written component
  • this potentially falls into (not the worst) trap of everything serving the artwork
  • single project with many surfaces
  • the nature of the relationship(s) between these surfaces to reveal your understanding in relation to the work of others
  • juggling the poetic with the discursive
  • skeptical attitude towards reflection (it’s critical)
  • consider our practices as comprising materials and traces (and indeed how these overlap or may even be synonymous)
  • what is the nature of our materials-traces?

questions for personal reflection

  • what are the materials-traces of your practice(s)?
  • what kinds of relationships exist between them?
  • what ideas might they be serving other than your practice?
  • what kinds of writing might make sense with these materials-traces?
  • how might they change or help evolve your practice?
  • what is missing?
  • what are others doing that you might steal?
  • what is un/necessary?
  • what is most/least clear?
  • who else has handled or developed similar materials-traces?
  • what becomes available to you?
  • how do these *other* materials-traces function? What if they are not other? How is a singular proposition, work or iteration emerging from my practice?
  • how might we understand *loss* and *gain* in relation to traces, documentation, liveness and originality?

more reading re documentation, performance ontology, liveness, possibilities and responsibilities

  • Reason, Matthew. 2006. Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bottoms, Stephen J, and Matthew Goulish. 2007. Small Acts of Repair: Performance, Ecology, and Goat Island. London: Routledge.
  • Etchells, Tim. 1999. Certain Fragments: Contemporary Performance and Forced Entertainment. London: Routledge.
  • Phelan, Peggy. 1993. Unmarked. London: Routledge.
  • Auslander, Philip. 1999. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture. London: Routledge.
  • Heathfield, Adrian. 2012. “Then Again.” In Perform, Repeat, Record, 27–35. London: Intellect Books.
  • Freeman, John. 2003. Tracing the Footprints. Lanham, MA: University Press of America.
  • Piccini, Angela, and Caroline Rye. 2009. “Of Fevered Archives and the Quest for Total Documentation.” In Practice-as-Research in Performance and Screen, edited by Ludivine Allegue, Simon Jones, Baz Kershaw, and Angela Piccini, 34–49. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Kunst, B. (2012) ‘The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making’
  • Rye, C. (2003). Incorporating practice: A multi-viewpoint approach to performance documentation. Journal of Media Practice, 3(2), 115-123.
  • Ingold, T (2013). Making: Anthropology, Archaeology. Art and Architecture. London: Routledge.
  • Heathfield, Adrian, and Tehching Hsieh. 2009. Out of Now. London: Live Art Development Agency.

roles of documentation

A brief list of potential roles of documentation. Note that the list does not consider or question the appropriateness of the word documentation.

Roles of documentation

  • Evidence (related to dissemination)
  • To stimulate memory of the performance event (Phelan, 1993)
  • Pressure to develop reproducible forms
  • Interest in developing reproducible forms
  • New audiences
  • Economic benefit
  • Professional benefit
  • Continue and diversify creative processes
  • Increase cultural authority (Lycouris, 2000)
  • To foreground the disappearance of performance
  • To prevent performance disappearing (preservation)
  • To question the disappearance of performance
  • To acknowledge performance’s incompleteness (Lycouris, 2000)
  • To trace or map
  • Reflection
  • Understanding
  • Evocation