Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The problem of numbers

Picking up on Maura's point about the number of people attending the Articulating Practice conference...
When you're engaged in new work, new modes of thinking and doing things, there's always the question of dissemination. Are there so few people here because nobody knows about what we're doing, or because they know and aren't interested? In the increasingly commercialised context of the Arts and Higher Ed, numbers have become important. But it's not necessarily a helpful indicator of anything. When Chris Burden shot himself, there was a tiny audience, but it's a piece very widely referred to. Lucan and Gray have performed to a thousand at the Barbican, but it's not going to be considered a seminal work of performance and written about for years to come.
The flipside of the problem is the avant-gardiste notion that unless there's a tiny audience, it can't be a significant event. It conveys a special aura to those few who were there for such-and-such a performance.

articulating practice


Nobody else seemed to be from Falmouth.... if only I had a dictaphone...
When Robin Nelson was talking kept having thoughts of how the writing part of the research is affected by the practice being writing. But not brave enough to put forward any musings or questions.
His talk:
"Material thinking, conceptual thinking and the role of writing: reflections on creative process and the articulation of a research inquiry.
I do not see writing as the enemy of creativity, the binary other of arts practice. My project in championing Practice as Research [he doesn't use practice led research - a few discussions about that between him and Brad] has been to establish material arts and media practices as 'knowledge-producing' where traditionally oly written publications have been accepted - but not at the expense of writing"
he quoted from Vygotsky. He also said much practice presentation needed wriiten clues to show the research enquiry, even only 500 words. he felt that too many paopel thought it was explicit. He used Pina Bausch as someone whose work is explicit and doesn't need a clue.

Actually I was surprised that there were not more people there. I sometimes wonder about events such as this, along with some performance art, the actual happening being documented and listed as having happened, with some peice of paper to say it happened is more important than it's presence, it actual happening, its having a big audience. This was all videoed, which meant more lighting than was necessary in a black box on a hot day. Many people get to tick boxes - the organisers, the presenters, even those attending. Maybe I'm cynical. But as performance and its ephermeral nature but also dissemination of information were two big themes I think it's worth airing my views....