editorial – rt 96

 Influx Controls, Boyzie Cekwana, performed at the Panorama Festival, Rio de Janeiro

Influx Controls, Boyzie Cekwana, performed at the Panorama Festival, Rio de Janeiro

Influx Controls, Boyzie Cekwana, performed at the Panorama Festival, Rio de Janeiro

Just now it’s a small wave of performances around the world in which audiences provide bodies, decision- and art-making by playing to rules and tasks set by artists to make works. But it’s a rising tide as can be see throughout this edition of RealTime. There’s a simultaneous increase in artworks offering immersive experiences, either through proximity and intimacy or via sensory deprivation—or amplification. Either way the audience makes a greater commitment to art than the usual heightened receptivity. The 2009 PuSh Festival in Vancouver focused on both kinds—small works like Jerk and Kamp that radically re-aligned audience seeing and thinking, or a relatively large one like Rimini Protokoll’s Best Before where a large audience, all with Xbox-type controllers, used avatars to make collective choices and engage not with performers but “experts in daily life.” In the performance event In-habit at Melbourne’s Abbotsford Convent, Jason Maling and Torie Nimmervoll became Colour Auditors, conducting and analysing a 12-day colour coding of the site by people working there, while Katerina Kokkinos-Kennedy’s Once brought pairs of strangers into silent contact for 10 minutes each. Elsewhere in Melbourne, Nicola Gunn’s At the Sans Hotel, the performer discussed with her audience “the show that should have taken place and the narrative problems it presented.” Matt Prest and Clare Britton’s new work, Hole in the Wall, will require its audience to inhabit and move mobile rooms. In a dance workshop in the Perth Festival, visiting choreographer Robyn Orlin tested guests with a “probe into discrimination by replacing race with arbitrary characteristics like vegetarianism”. For many years interactivity has been largely associated with new media, but now physical correlatives are increasingly appearing in live performance. In Rimini Protokoll’s Best Before the decision-making is digital in a live art context. Meanwhile new media art continues its sustained engagement with interactivity, as in Van Sowerwine and Isobel Knowles’ You Were in My Dream (for Experimenta’s Utopia Now) where, once you’ve peered into the installation, your face is assumed by the principal character in the work’s stop-animation.

On another level, the prospect of developing a national cultural policy requires artists and audiences to see themselves interactively, as critically responsive to Arts Minister Peter Garrett’s notion of what comprises ‘culture.’ Similarly we can no longer allow the future of Australian film to be determined without collectively addressing the issue of screen culture. What is screen culture and will the making of more and more films alone grow an audience for Australian film? Over to you.

RealTime issue #96 April-May 2010 pg. 1

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

12 April 2010