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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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Haruki Murakami’s short story explores in detail a single moment in time. This moment, experienced by the protagonist, is loaded to contain the past, the present and the future, evoking a shifting perception of memory, time and space.

The story brings up questions about the nature and process of memory: the relationship between sight and experience, the co-existence of reality and dreams, and how emotions are remembered as physical sensations. Mapping the landscape of memory, through the light installation as well as the physicality of the performer, my attempt is to transform the text into a series of visual registers.

The three dimensional light installations within each of the three rooms seek to interpret and respond to the text spatially and experientially. They rearticulate the performance space such that the meaning and perception of the installation/ space constantly changes as one travels through and experiences it with and in relation to the presence of the performer.

The performer’s presence is negotiated to integrate itself into and extend the visual language of the space. In other words space is not merely a blank affect upon which the performer’s body is imprinted: neither is the performer’s body merely a blank affect upon which emotive expression is imprinted. As the space between text and movement is stretched, the performer’s body assumes a life of its own; it becomes a sculptural object interacting with a space rendered dynamic by various elements, one of which is the light installation.

For me performance and more specifically movement, function less as mimetic forms to illustrate textual content, working instead to expand time, so that a moment in a narrative is opened up to the possibility of multiple meanings and resonances. As a result, the visual story performed on stage, while based on and derived from the text, does not attempt to illustrate narrative content. Rather, it offers the viewer a series of visual experiences, which may relate only obliquely and elliptically to the textual content, allowing the text and movement to coexist without necessarily always coinciding.

The spatial division of the installation into separate rooms dictates the construction of the performance and the separation of the performance into three spaces serves to further fragment the visual and textual narrative. The challenge, then, is to bring these separate spaces into one consciousness. Since this is a solo performance, with the story narrated in a single voice, how does one establish the actor’s presence in all the rooms simultaneously so that his presence does not cease to exist at the end of a particular moment/sequence, but continues to remain part of the visual and spatial environment, even though that particular moment in the performance has ended and the performer has left the space?

This piece hopes to explore and develop a series of questions to do with: the interruption of the narrative structure, the fragmentation of the mimetic relationship between text and movement, the relationship between the body and space, the texture of the performative space itself, the quality of the performative body and the nature of viewing experience.

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