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Last monday, I gave my final performance for the class Media performance and I think it went really well. My final performance was a piece called It Will All be Over Soon, which resulted from combining a few of my projects from the class together. Here is a brief history of the evolution of the performance from conception to final presentation.
This piece began as two separate projects:
1. Cannibal Cake
2. It Will All be Over Soon
The first piece I did (It Will All be Over Soon) I created as a response to the word “stillness.” I was interested in how I found rest and comfort in the idea of large institutions. All of my financial worries, my institutional obligations etc. would disappear. There was no need for stress. So many of the things I put tremendous value in were not as important as I thought they were. There was no reason for anxiety.
So when I was brainstorming my first iteration of the piece, I imagined it as a performance that would incorporate augmented reality and google glass. A person would enter the raw space wearing google glass and a 3d model of the city of Chicago would be projected on the walls, then a number of live performers would enter the space and begin to sing the words “It will all be over soon.” As they sang, the city would slowly turn to dust and blow away until there was nothing left. I began making little augmented reality pieces where a drawing of a building would trigger a video on your phone of a Chicago skyscraper slowly disappearing. That was fun, but I didn’t see how it would fit into a performance.
For Media Performance class, I made an isadora patch that would project a childishly drawn image of a cityscape and trigger a cacophony of voices. Over time the drawing of the city slowly disappeared and the voices slowly faded until the city was gone and my voice was the only thing you heard, and then silence.
After that piece I wrote and performed a piece I called Cannibal Cake, where I cut out a giant cake in the shape of my body and projected an image of myself onto the cake, then proceeded to serve that cake to the audience. In the background was the audio from an interview with a man from Papua New Guinea on how to prepare a human for consumption. The audio was fuzzy and ended up not adding anything to the piece, but the audience responded positively to the person cake.
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I attempted It Will All Be Over Soon again with some modifications. Rather than performing in an installation room or the raw space I decided to perform in the studios in the basement because I liked the idea of bringing the audience on a journey. I also decided to turn the piece into a durational piece that never ended. Rather than fade to silence, I looped the audio when it began to get to only a few voices. This performance ended up less successful but I did enjoy the idea of taking the audience through a journey of the piece.
So for my third iteration of It Will All Be Over Soon. I decided to perform in the raw space and actually combine It Will All be Over Soon with Cannibal Cake. In this piece the table was set in the Raw Space with the cake cut out. Their was a dosent standing stage left who guided the audience one by one around the table. When they first approached the table there was a server in an apron who cut a piece of the cake and handed it to the individual. The audience member then passed behind the server and walked directly towards me as I sang “It Will All be Over Soon.” After their brief interaction with me they left the performance space. In the background was the sound piece for It Will All be Over Soon. The docent was counting how many audience members passed through the space and each time a certain number of people traveled through the space, he would get rid of some of the voices playing in the background until the only voice left was mine. I eventually stopped singing, received a piece of cake from the server, served the server a piece of cake, and then we both walked off the stage and the lights went down.
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I performed this iteration at 1:30pm on Monday and it went a little too fast. People felt rushed through the space. They wanted to have a moment with me and the cake, but couldn’t. I think this was in part due to having the duration of the piece dependent on the number of people that were passing through. I performed the piece again at 7pm on Monday and decided to extend the piece by having the duration determined by the sound piece. The piece was a little over twelve minutes. This time there was no docent. Audience members were invited to observe the cake and observe the singer at their leisure. A line naturally was created, but people felt like they had enough time to engage with me and the cake. This time however, I think the piece went a little long. Some people enjoyed the duration, some didn’t. Next time I’ll try something in between.
Aside from the piece being too long or too short I think it went really well. I received a lot of good feedback after each performance which will help make it even stronger in the future.