notes on calling and responding


Brian Fuata, Call and Response (changing title), invite.

Participation as a way to engage the audience. Participation as a way to activate the audience. Participation as a way to get people to respond, to react, to kick back. Something. Anything.

You call, I respond, you respond. lag. you call, you respond to your own call, I respond to you call before your response, respond. respond. respond. lag. call, respond. call.

I’m making these up from memory. Could the documents be labelled as a ‘call’ or a ‘response’? What would make the distinction?

Active participation. There’s a lot of thought around this idea of an active audience – that somehow looking and being are passive encounters. That thrashing and bashing is active and engaged. Its not really a new topic, it seems we’ve been exploring it for quite some time now. Its a polar opposite I do not like. I side with John Dewey here (I do read literature newer than 1934). I don’t have it in front of me. There is a point that he makes about ‘doing’ and ‘thinking’ together within an experience. Execution and emotion.

I do agree. But I do think the reality is often uncomfortable.

Thoughts on the reality of experiential and participatory forms: If experience and participation are the medium, do they exist if they are ignored? Can they exist if only the artist ever experiences them? Do we need an audience? These are stupid questions. Why did I feel it necessary to make these exchanges, this correspondence, public?

I do not have the answers.

Participation. torture? An artificial hell? A voluntary (in this case yes, but in general…)? A constructed experience where someone else is determining the outcome and it seems like you have a say. Do you? Does anyone even know the rules? Do you need to know them? Can you be engaged if you’re thinking about the rules, or the non-rules? Are those the rules? To think?

But calling and responding. Call and response. Here is a mode of participation where the participant is indeed a co-author. There is a call. There has to be a response. Any kind of response. Without it the artwork falls over. Its ceases. That initial letter – the terms are spelt out. Respond to that and you’re locked in. Participant committed. Artist Committed.

What would Brian have done if I refused to respond for an extended period of time?

Six days was a long time.

The first time it happened there was a nice reminder. Just seeing where you’ve gone? As the 31 exchanges extended far beyond the calendar month, fresh delays were met with increasingly terse replies. A blunt re-forwarding of the same email from six days before hand.


ME TOO! (silent.)

Notes on the emails: the armature of the experience. Part of the process, the side comments, the side of the conversation that has disappeared. The frequency, the timing, mapping the nature of the engagement. There is no number 17, but this doesn’t matter. Its a glitch that I’m quite fond of. The emails discussing this fact could in fact be the fact.

Slowing we are getting nowhere and that is a pleasure.


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