Musings: An Essay About Performance Art

With the performance art challenge, I first had two pieces in mind. The first one entitled “Musings” was supposedly about the bounds of being a woman in a society. The other one is about the self-expression. The former was rejected because it was too common while he former was further developed into the final performance art piece. There is one thing that I noticed on most of the performance art examples shown to us in our CW 120 class: the pieces had themes about the Self. This for me is a good thing to start at. It is because one should be familiar with one’s piece and everything about it. The most important thing to consider is the concept because this is where the performance would be based. At the first instance, I only had an idea in mind later I realized that a more technical term could be related to my concept about the self. The social psychology theories were the bases for my piece. I wanted something to do with a soccer ball since, I was to do self-expressing. I wanted a piece that I know of, I wanted something that partly reveals my self. Soccer for me is an important sport. This game helped me realize the value of myself, of the team and of enthusiasts. I play when I feel depressed, play when I am happy and play when I want to get away from everything else. Every time I see the soccer field, I long to be as carefree as a rolling ball. I won’t care if I’d sweat or smell after playing, all I care about is the game I had in mind. That is why my concept is about it. I want a performance that I’d not dread doing. I want a something I’d love to do. I wanted my performance to be about myself.

I used materials such as soccer ball, candle, three cones, cloth and play money. These served as representations of the words I wouldn’t utter. The ball even signifies my self- black is for the pessimist mode while white is for optimism. The cones arranged in the triangular formation represent society. In soccer, this formation is essential in play. It enables three players to have an advantageous position and passing in the field. This also represents the three things I mentioned earlier – realize the value of one’s self, of the team and of enthusiasts- these three are also evident in any performance art piece. These in a performance art piece would be the concept, performer and the audience/spectator. The limits of space are set by the cones like how one is within the society. There are boundaries such as regulation and law. Each cone covered with white, green and black cloth symbolizes innocence, life experiences and death respectively. The candle detail wasn’t present in the libretto but in the final presentation, I had a lit candle to represent the time duration of innocence and life experience. It was placed inside the black cloth-covered cone because in the end upon blowing the candle the presentation would end, and this suggests death. The play money revealed my judgment of a person- their value based on my impression of them. The act should appear as light-hearted and playful as how it is in a soccer game. In the end, exhaustion wearies out the person thus, the ball is kicked hard and the candle is blown off.

Dio Chrysostom, a Hellenistic critic on a lecture said “On Knowing God, painters and sculptors invest the God with the human body, the vessel of wisdom and reason, seeking to manifest the imageless and unseen in the visible, which can be portrayed”[Preface to Plato, Bosanquet’s trans.]. In the performance art piece the message of the concept should be conveyed to the audience/spectator. As in Joycean statement that literature emanates meanings, discovery through concrete objects, those materials were essential for my piece so that the audience/spectator would trigger interpretation.

I retained the title “Musings” because I like how light the word sounds to the ears. The impression it gives me is like that of how fun it is to think of things that one likes. The title seems self-revealing. One muses of many things most of the time. The libretto was in turn, the script to be followed for the performance. There was a step by step process on how the performance would progress.

When the final presentation came, the changes tied the whole concept together. I considered the site to be an area where most people pass by. I just wanted them (passers by) to stop for a while. I intended this for the performance without straining somebody to find the venue. The audience/spectators were cooperative enough. The performance art piece was interactive. The materials in the piece should allow the audience/spectators to understand it within the limits and range of his/her own perspective and life experiences (qtd. from Fineberg). There were revisions on the libretto for improvement.

I added some details because the first script was incomplete.

The time I poured over reading sections of psychology books helped in the final development of the script and the SSP 3 notes were also reviewed. The social psychology theories enumerated under the branch are:

 

Social Psychology does not only touch about society but also of the self.

These theories are influential in the concept. The play money signifies the value I give to those people who interact with me. It meant that based on my impression of some one’s personality. While I was dribbling the ball, I had a target in mind and a value I thought of. I was afraid that the audience/spectators wouldn’t understand the deeper implication of the play money I gave away. I feared that they would dismiss the play money as a mere program pamphlet. I wanted them to realize that there is a need to go far beyond what they’re seeing and feeling in a performance art piece.

In the final performance, I chose who to kick the ball to. I saw among the audience/spectator some classmates and other familiar faces. I didn’t get the chance to motion to whom the ball would be directed. I also expected that someone would throw the ball back instead rather than by kicking it. But I guess, they knew that soccer balls are really meant for kicking not otherwise.

Our coach once told us that in an experiment it showed that children most likely kick balls than play with them using their hands. This proves true one’s instinct to kick back a ball. The crumpling of the remaining play money wasn’t actually planned beforehand. I realized the need to end the act with a closure. That was the only time that “exhaustion” came inside my mind. The candle surely wouldn’t melt completely for the 3-minute allotted time. That is why I had to blow it off to indicate the end of the presentation. The props were noticeable during the performance and they are which speak in my behalf. These changes eventually made my concept more significant especially in the end part.

In Poetics Aristotle argued that the true idea for fine art is derived from the general concept which the intellect spontaneously abstracts from the details of sense. There is an ideal form which is present in each ideal phenomenon but imperfectly manifested. This form impresses itself as a sensuous appearance on the mind of the artist; he seeks to give it more complete expression, to bring to light that which only half revealed in the world of reality. Imitation is so understood as a creative art (Theory of Poetry and Fine Arts 153). I think concepts just come out from commonplace ideas that are given performances appealing to the audience/spectators. Common ideas give birth to brighter ones. Just like in poetry, one can give a poem a new perspective so that the experience would be unique.

After the performance, one classmate thought that burning the remaining play money would make the end more meaningful. This suggestion was one of the many things I first considered when I made the final adjustments to the script. If I do so there’d be much question whether what issues I am confronting. I think kicking the ball hard for the last time approximated the burning of the play money. The conclusion revealed how things end. Then, I really had to blow the candle off for it hasn’t melted. I thought of how the act of blowing off the candle would mean for the audience/spectator.

In our presentations during the past semester, I could say that the difference between theater performance and performance art is the focus. Theatrical performances, since it has been established ages ago, seem to conform to the strictures of art. The time frame of when both performances came reveal their differences. What would people think if they were shown Yoko Ono’s performance piece? Theatrical performance is taken hold by a script, the gesture, speech and manner of the stage-actor/actress while performance art deeply reorganizes the concept it adheres and here is where speech can be absent. There are also deeper meanings in performance art almost all materials are significant to the wholeness of a presentation. In the theatrical performances, the whole thing is organized-the setting, characterization, dialogues-the plot.

Theater as social expression (Encyclopedia Britannica, 523) such is an interrelated phrase with my performance art piece. It is because a theatrical performance during that time was a means of expressing society whether in satiric, comic or dramatic way as entertainment. “Musings” was about self-expression.

Yet, in both performances there must exist a certain degree of realism. This is what makes the audience (from Greek “to hear”) and spectator (from Greek “to see”) lose themselves throughout the act. This is why performance necessitates skills for one to be able to take hold of attention.

In storytelling, words take the part as the narration of the events. A story is made up of sequences of happenings. There is a plot and the story progresses on. In creative writing, one is given the freedom to soar through imagination. Creative Writing does not only incur creative juices or inspiration, it requires the overhaul of the whole composition. A good story can withstand the passing of time. In writing, there are no bounds for imagination except realism.

Stories are among the basis for categorizing an era in literature. There were the romantics, neoclassicists, etc. Indeed creative writing is not merely telling a story, it’s about creating it. Writing stories is a means of creating a profile of a person, things or events at a very particular moment. Longinus believed that literature could model a soul and that soul could pour itself in a work of art. Maybe that is why there are great masterpieces.

I think performance art somehow is like storytelling. There is a presentation based on a concept. This concept is the basis for the act to be done. It is a script to follow. In performance art one tells a story through one’s body. Facial expression and gesture is important for a performance art piece. One won’t be able to make the audience/spectator believe something which isn’t performed well. Every action is crucial in a performance.

Creative thinking is applicable in making a performance art. One must explore theories be it about social or any issue. One performance can address many things. “Musings” as said by one classmate could also touch political issues-as exemplified by the use of money in the performance. It could also be about a womanhood that is quite unlike the conventional. It has revealed something about social reception: how do people interact with each other? Does one really need to give value to others? If a person’s value can be monetized, how much should one give?

Joshua Fineberg feared that that rather than free the artist in everyone we may be eliminating the place for art altogether. What really is the criterion for Art? This I ask myself. Art has many definitions. One or the other says the same about it, and somehow I want to understand Art as it is. I want to know that Art is Art. I’ve learned to appreciate Art in the contemporary times like music. I’ve learned how difficult yet rewarding creating something felt. And finally I have a question as an answer: how can one displace art when it is in itself subject to the constant changes of the times?

Performance art is new to me. I wouldn’t have known anything about it. But when it was introduced my first impression was that it really is a new form of art. In the process of making my own performance art piece, I was considering how I’d look in front of the people. This was my initial inquiry: What would people think of me? I think that performance art should be explored by others, too so that they could experience art in its different forms.

 

 

 

References:

  • Aristotle, Theory of Poetry and Fine Arts 153, CL 121 handout
  • Chrysostom Dio(qtd from Bosanquet’s trans), Preface to Plato, CL 121 handout
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Theater as social expression (Encyclopedia Britannica, 523)
  • Fineberg, J. to understand it within the limits and range of his/her own perspective and life experiences (qtd. from Fineberg), CL 121 handout
  • Joyce,James, Stephen Hero “Ephipany”, CL121 handout
  • Longinus, CL 121 handout
  • Social Psychology Theories, http://www.wikipedia.com. Date retrieved: Oct .15, 2008

 

 

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