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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control? Noontime Chat (by Gigi Rosenberg) 

What we learned at the noon-time chat on the use of media in performance is that it is anything but "fast, cheap and out of control." Moderated by MK Guth, we chatted for over an hour about the pros and cons of mixing media with live performance. On the panel were artists Andrew Dickson, David Brooks and Lawrence Goldhuber.

MK opened our discussion with the provocative idea that what joins these three artists is that they use media to construct their characters in their performances. What we wanted to know was: what are the pros and cons of using media are? For Goldhuber, the pros were simple: when the film is running, it gives him time to get off the stage and change clothes for the next scene. It means that as a solo performer, he doesn’t have to be on the stag e the whole time. The disadvantage for Goldhuber is that if the technology backfires, he doesn’t have a contingency plan. If the projector bulb blows, now what?

Much discussion revolved around the difference in how time feels when you’re watching a fi l m versus watching a live performance. How we as artists will wrestle with using a fixed-time media (like film) with live performance will unfold as more artists grow and experiment with the two forms. Many noontime chatters concurred: the balance betwee n live performance and media hasn’t been solved yet.

Other challenges of using media for Goldhuber is that sometimes the video can be so seductive that the audience watches the video and not the dancers. Fortunately, I don’t think that’s a problem for Goldhuber, because when he’s dancing, nothing can make you take your eyes off him, not even seductive video.

If you’re a performer who wants to start to incorporate media into your performance, Brooks suggests writing your show with the media. So, if you’re a writer who usually starts with words, start with your images and film clips instead. Let the images take you on a journey that has an emotional story.
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