* ideas, concepts, performance notes.
Somehow, through the process of installing the exhibit, the formerly abandoned bank has woken up to find itself an art space. It channels its dual nature through a head teller/performer and attempts both to continue its business as a bank and performance venue. This is America, 2016.
Material Information (concepts behind them, etc.)
Pre-recorded "Bank Manager" text
*This can be played as a recording at the start of the performance while the teller/performer is setting up the materials, or can be interpreted by the teller/performer and spoken live while setting up the materials and set.
Possible starting dialogue for the live performer
First performance script
The process of art is an encounter with the underlying structure of reality accompanied by the belief that there is an underlying structure of reality. This structure always reveals itself first through feeling. The work of the artist is to transform this feeling into meaning for someone else (an audience, public, etc.).
Consider the sublime, the poetic and the avante-garde.
>The character (teller/performer) in the performance is a ghost of a dislocated bank employee (or perhaps the bank itself...) finding herself/itself dislocated in a familiar/unfamiliar setting and trying to continue her work while trying to figure out what has happened. As a professional enterprise she works to maintain her composure as she interacts with the audience. She realizes that she is also a performer. Portraying the inner complexities of the situation is at the center of this character.
> The performance will end with the observation of an imaginary clock on the wall that will signal the bank is closed.
You could end the performance by acknowledging the imaginary clock (or watch) looking at the audience, and quietly turning everything off and leaving.
> The absurdity: A gutted bank in Detroit is now a pop-up art space in 2016.
The awareness of the push and pull between the parallels, opposites, ironies, and absurdities is an important part of the piece both for you and the audience.
Humor is part of the performance.
> The push and pull between micro and macro in the performance, aims to engage the audience in the process of gradually orienting themselve to a state where the connection between their individual experience and a larger cultural, social and historical context is more palpable.
The larger awareness comes from them as watchers of the spectacle (Macro). The Micro comes from their direct engagement with an exchange. The Macro is a spectacle/historic perspective, the Micro is the personal/hands-on/direct. Orienting between the two is what gives the experience its meaning.
> The objects are all remanants of art making - emphasizing the value of process over end result - but process that engages humans as thinking, feeling beings (a humanized/humanizing 'system'), as opposed to the parallel remants of the city - the burned out, empty squares of the city, the ruins, artefacts of a system (algorithm, mathematical model) that didn't account for the people as people (as thinking, feeling, complex beings).
> The hollowness of the objects/artifacts, is the space for the personal, unique aethetic experience produced by the artifice of the piece / the hollowness of the objects symbolize the personal, experiential space created by art, and can be thought of as potential dwelling sites for individual experience.
In contrast to the concept of privately held money - "stored energy to realize future dreams" The bank as another type of storage facility/"dwelling", but the parameters for agency, personal experience, and dreaming are entirely different than the open spaces of art.
> The hollowness of the burned out city is a parallel (existing at the same time) but opposite space - the hollowed, burned out, abandoned city is the result of the financialized government that ignored/couldn't compute the rich, personal, aesthetic space of art, and substituted greedy, selfish profiteering within very narrow, common parameters, for deeper human experiences, including the aesthetic experience. The hollowness was a dwelling for corporate dreams of hollow, indebted consumer/workers.
> Its important that a sense of metaphor and poetry is maintained during the performance - so that while you may be specifically aware of the intentions and meanings of the piece as a whole, your interactions with the audience poetically suggest those relationships - leaving space for the audience to make their own realizations/understandings.
The push and pull is between the Macro and Micro.
Place (Macro - the site, literally the "place", the larger, devastated city/culture, the relationship between art and the devastation. Art provides the context for the renewal, i.e., not based on shame or debt or selfishness) / the observation pointing at the larger conditions of the space as site
Borrow (Micro - the objects, their description, the transaction with the audience, the details of the artifice of the performance) / the local interactions within the artifice of the piece.
Possible starting dialogue
Potential dialogue / these are just suggested bits of prompts and dialogue that could be said during the performance / it doesn't have to be literal, it can be paraphrased - it's an oscillation between an absurd corporate persona and an absurd conversational, casual persona (emphasizing the micro, macro tension):
M = macro
m = micro
M spoken: "...and this happened" (gesturing around)
m spoken: "may I help the next person?"
M spoken: "remember ancient ruins"
M spoken: "restore this devastated place"
m spoken: "our interest is in continuing a process of transaction with a different currency"
m spoken: "I have this object,for example, it is metal, its structure is crystalline, but the crystals have no center. The edges are fully developed, but the interior spaces are not filled in, as if someone had removed interior sections of the individual crystals. In fact, the "removed" sections never filled in, because the crystal was growing so rapidly that there was not enough time (or material) to fill in the gaps. What you see as center is actually a layering of smaller and smaller edges around gaps."
m spoken: "I have this object, it is bio-degradable plastic made from sugar cane, its structure is also crystalline, but the crystals have no center. The edges are fully developed, but the interior spaces are not filled in, as if someone had removed interior sections of the individual crystals. In fact, the "removed" sections never filled in, because the equation used to generate this form didn't generate a center. The mathematics was a repetition of a hollow form at different scales. The center was a question the mathetmatics couldn't answer."
Bismuth: forms hopper crystals most efficiently from synthetic, lab based processes.
The edges of hoppered crystals are fully developed, but the interior spaces are not filled in. This results in what appears to be a hollowed out step lattice formation, as if someone had removed interior sections of the individual crystals. In fact, the "removed" sections never filled in, because the crystal was growing so rapidly that there was not enough time (or material) to fill in the gaps. This could represent the city/finance - formed by synthetic models that didn't permit time for actual centers - the center can be a soul or unique essence or quality. Without centers we just have walls/boundaries and are left empty and isolated.
Looking at these structures from afar is "interesting" or "pretty" but ultimately meaningless without sufficiently cultivated and unique inner lives.
With language in mind the hollow repetition with subtle variation at different scale is analogous to memes and produces meangingless engagement and ultimately confusion and inability for original thought.
Lead: these objects were subjected to the same heating and cooling processes as the Bismuth but look like the surfaces of a burned out planet, or distended coins... Lead is a post transition metal and neurotoxin. It is cheap, easy to work with but ultimately dangerous. Lead in Michigan water.
The connection to ancient Rome is interesting because our private banking system originated there. Lead's ability to mimic other metals suggests a truly poisonous essence - a flexible, almost pathological opportunistic identity.
3d printed bio-degradeable plastic: simulated hopper crystals mathematically generated - edges with no gaps.... Symbolism: algorithms - mathematical models/projections (aka Finance) are ultimately empty and in the case of the USA, quite dangerous for most people. The bio-degradeable sugar-plastic looks and feels good - and within the context of the performance/exhibit has its gaps filled in by engagement with the other - so the spaces exist for meaning that emerges from encounter with another person.
Ironic that the plastic is made from sugar and formed by impersonal rationality - sugar is often about a loss of the rational (a sugar high - and think about its presence in so much American food...), so a formal, mathematical/algorithmic structure made of inedible, but biodegradable sugar has all sorts of complicated hollowness.
The artifice of these objects renders them more complex than the Bismuth that were their inspiration.
Paper: more renmants from art making. The tradition of two dimensional art. Paper money. They are all at the scale of cash/bill rolls/hands but have the sculpted and drawn qualities of art. Again, similar to the 3d printed objects, their qualities are complex and they are the artefacts of converging contexts and processes.
Related also to money. The hollowness here is a space for the "other". A space for something constructive/original/open - inclusive of the other.
R/C car: Detroit....cars.... replaced by "autos". The one we made has sound effects from a mercedes cop car - feel free to use them!
“We have confused reason with literacy and rationalism with technology” (McLuhan) we have no clue as to what originality is and how it can exist because we've confused change/modernization (embodied in "technology") with originality.
The hacked technology/usage of the r/c car is a way to suggest both looking under the hood of things and freely repurposing them (creativity/freedom), and our over-reliance on technology as an interface between people - the the bank teller is compelled to use whatever technology is at hand (producing absurd situations but not realizing it, just following it) and the artist wants to hack it and repurpose it to expose the absurdity...
Headlamp/Wireless Camera: Similar tech stuff (McLuhan, etc.) to the R/C car above, with the addition of providing a fuzzy imagery for the objects you would like to exchange. You'll both describe them but they'll also be projected via the wireless camera. Highlights both the absurdities of technology as mediation (bank teller) and opening the door to metaphor and poetic understanding/feeling/aura/vibe surrounding the objects (art).
Regarding language, we're interested in Orwell's idea that there is no longer imagination or originality in our culture (he wrote that in 1946...). Our constant repetion of words and ideas have caused our words and ideas to lose their meaning. By re-mixing cliches, figures of speech, and memes, we have chosen quantity and speed over clarity and originality. What remains is only vagueness, while imagining (metaphor) and expressing an original idea is impossible.
Like everything else in the performance there should a flickering between the bank teller/artist personae regarding language/tone. The teller may use more corporate speech/cliche (think speed, absurdity, vagueness, confidence), while the artist may use more carefully chosen imagery.