notes on R E L A Y

– R E L A Y –

A 5-hour durational performance between Lauren Brown (Performance
Space, London) and Boni Cairncross (Alaska, Sydney).

A spoken performance is relayed between the two performers, the two spaces.
What is seen and what is heard is ruptured by the delay of relaying
between the two locations.

To be performed simultaneously on August 19th, 2012

6am – 11am @ Performance Space, London

&

3pm – 8pm @ ALASKA, Sydney

When devising this performance with Lauren, I was very much interested ‘where’ the artwork exists. Does it exist as me, performing in Alaska? Or does it exist as Lauren, performing in Performance Space? Or does it exist somewhere between us – in the interwebs that are connecting our performances? Or does it exist between the mediating technologies and our bodies? Or between the people present in the space? Or is it all of these things at the same time?

And what about the unintended contextual things that will no doubt fold into this performance? Are these to be seen as irritations that should be minimised (possibly eradicated from the documentation), or embraced as part of the contingency of performance work? Considering that for two-hours of this performance, there will be a 2-hour experimental music performance to celebrate John Cage at ALASKA, I am leaning towards embracing these contingencies as an important aspect to fold into the work.

Beyond these conceptual philosophical musings – we also began to think about the act of speaking and listening for long periods of time. It seems history is littered with long political speeches. Before the ‘sound-bite’ it seemed that long political speeches were an acceptable way to demonstrate your knowledge and learning, as well as communicate policies and addresses etc. Speaking and listening are two roles (inter-changable of course) that set up a dialogue for a political system.

But long speeches are not limited to politics. We also began thinking about sports commentary, performance monologues, graduation speeches, song cycles and other modes of speaking which had an intended listening audience. So when devising the score for ‘Relay’, Lauren and I looked at a broad range of texts that were constructed deliberately for an audience. We will quote from twenty-five separate speeches in our own marathon speech. The score has been broken into five sections – 12 minutes each. There are five texts referenced in each section. The whole score should last for an hour. This will then be repeated four times.

Built into our performance is the task of recording and playing back. When researching this area of liveness, I came across a section in Philip Auslander’s ‘Liveness’ that points out that distinguishing something as ‘live’ is a fairly recent thing. According to Auslander, it was with the rise of radio that caused the need to categorise something as live or recorded. Prior to this, of course music could be heard live or recorded, but the source was obvious – one could see if it was one or another. With radio, the source was made invisible to the listener – therefore creating the need to communicate if something was being played live in the studio or from a recording. With radio we can also see the blurring of the categories – playing a recording live across the airwaves for example. So in part, our performance is an attempt to explore this blurring of live, recorded and live recordings.

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