In Print: Jemma Nelson and Caden Manson included in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art’s 100th Issue

Jemma Nelson and Caden Manson are included in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art’s 100th issue.  Performance makers in New York we’re asked to write essays in one of three thematic groupings; Belief, Being Contemporary, Performance & Science, and Writing & Performance. Mr. Nelson and Manson’s essay can be found on pages 57-58. Others asked to participate are Mac Wellman, Richard Foreman, Barbara Hammer, Yvonne Rainer, Joan Jonas, Robert Wilson, RoseLee Goldberg, and Richard Schechner.

You can download the kindle version here –>
PAJ 100 (January 2012) – Performance New York (PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art)

Alexis Soloski did a nice article in the Village Voice about Multimedia in Theater. Here are our responses to her questions.

Alexis Soloski wrote an article in the Village Voice about Multimedia in Theater. Here are Jemma Nelson and my full responses to her interview questions.

 

AS–> I understand this piece, like much of your work, makes ample use of live video. How does the video story intersect with the form)?

B!G–> The use of live video continues Big Art Group’s investigation into the construction of the Image and the gap between Realness and the Real. In this particular piece, a roving tethered “documentary filmmaker” provides a framed point of view, while surveillance cameras provide shots of otherwise unseeable spaces. There is no separation of content of the piece from form, this is an ancient division of labor to which we do not subscribe. In our performance model, all information, from the biographies of the actors to the sound effects, interact to construct the Image-Event.

 

AS–> With marked technological content what makes the work theater, theatrical

B!G–> We make performance, so providing theatrical justification doesn’t interest us. Big Art Group focuses on the breaks and fissures in the constructed image. A question of framing (who is framing  and what is beyond the frame) runs throughout the work.

 

AS–> What attracts you to use video in the theater? What does it permit that unmediated performance wouldn’t allow?

B!G–> We are all voracious image eaters and producers. We create and consume images daily. It is the international language of commerce and anti-commerce. We video-chat, blog, tweet, and post images to our friends and family. Big Art Group understands that our audience has a facility with technology and reflects that in the construction of our live work. Its important for us to speak the language of the everyday and that language is Image.

 

AS–> Are there any drawbacks? Theater’s selling point has always been its liveness, the idea that living spectators and living actors together create and event in a particular moment, what theorists like Grotowski call “communion.” Film and video can interrupt that liveness. What do you do to bring the audience back? To make sure they’re communally engaged?

B!G–> ‘Communal engagement’ has a different meaning today, considering the rise of social media and online networking, and by that measure traditional theatre that spurns technology fails to address a whole host of contemporary social issues from new conceptions of identity to power and economic structures that shape current experience. We created our performance ensemble in order to speak a contemporary language, and so we feel compelled to engage and confront these issues either by technological strategies or by whatever tools we find useful. For those who have a preconceived idea of what theatre ‘should’ be, I would not recommend one of our events; we make work for the curious, the queer, the rebels, and the monsters.

 

AS–> What are the things you would like to do in the theater in terms of effects and possibilities that technology doesn’t yet allow?

B!G–> We are from the future. We hope that our work will lead us back there, soon.

In Print – Essay by Big Art Group in the Book, Performing Politics: Political Art After The 20th Century

Big Art Group essay “After Spectacularity”  by Jemma Nelson and Caden Manson has been published in Theater der Zeit’s new book, Performing Politics: Politisch Kunst machen nach dem 20. Jahrhundert. The Book is in German and can be purchased from Amazon

Is there a return of politics in the arts?  And if so, what does it mean to make political art, whether in theater, performance or painting? In the last decade, many experiments in the arts have showed a new interest in questions of the political, “Politics” and political intervention – all left over from the twentieth century and its catastrophes. This edition of Theater der Zeit features essays from Big Art Group, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Philippe Quesne and more.

In Print: Big Art Included in “New Theater, New Media: Theories and Practices of Theater and The Digital.”

Big Art Group is included in “New Theater, New Media: Theories and Practices of Theater and The Digital” just released by the publisher Franco Angeli in Italian (Milan) by Anna Maria Monteverdi with an introductory essay by Oliviero Ponte di Pino.

“The book illustrates the most interesting experiments related to the use of audio-visual technologies in live performance and video theater from the eighties to the interactive multimedia experiments of recent years. In the third part of the book some interviews with international artists (Antunez Roca Marcel.lí; Konic THTR, Roberto Paci Dalò, Big Art Group, Builders Association; Jaromil).”

Party Pics From Last Night’s Holiday Performance Blow Out!

A big art thank you to everyone that came out last night! We had such a good time performing with our friends. Thank you to Matthew Nasser and Eastern Bloc for hosting us. Thank you to the Big Art performers; Heather Litteer (I will never think of santa clause the same again), FARRAD (turned us out!), Nicholas Gorham ( A very dark christmas carol [Channing] ), and David Commander (action toy Chekhov and the messiest gogo every, I think I still have goo on me). Take a look at the gallery below and check out our online (anti-Kickstarter) fundraiser. Our next group work, Broke House opens in NYC Jan 5th at the American Realness Festival.

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The People – SF Tableaux #2, Terrorism and Democracy Interview Videos

Below is the second Tableaux built by the phenomenal preformance community in San Francisco followed by the final 4 interview videos on Terrorism and Democracy.

4 Channel Tableaux screened during the Iphigenia’s Monologue of The People – SF. Made by local SF performers during the workshop Hybrid Bodies the week before the performance. Participants included Atosa Babaoff, Ben Randle, Beth Grossman, brian gibbs, christine marie, DIA vergados / DIAmanda Kallas, Ernesto Sopprani, Evan Johnson, Honey McMoney, Justin Morrison, Kate Elswit, Kevin O’Connor, Laura Arrington, Malinda Trimble, maryam rostami, Mica Sigourney, Minna Harri, Nina Otis Haft, Rachael Dichter, Sara Kraft

Terrorism Interviews:

Democracy Interviews:

Hybrid Bodies Workshop Tableaux For The People – SF

Photo: Jared Mezzocchi

 

As part of Big Art Group’s creation residency for The People – SF, Caden Manson lead a week long workshop in the company’s practice called Hybrid Bodies/Simultaneous Presence. The final two days were spent creating 4 tableaux that were incorporated into the live performance of The People – SF inside and on a 200 foot portion of the building facade. Below are the first two without sound. Origianlly played during the messenger monologue (included below)

(Text Excerpt form THE PEOPLE – SF)

Messenger

I admit, I lost myself on the way homeward. It wasn’t that the open ocean, arms flung wide, had no landmarks to lead us back to our home. We lost a sense of purpose, we lost our resolution.

What we feared most of all— us the amputees, the gravel-faced, the lettuce-skinned and prosthetic-emotioned— what we dreaded with apprehension now stitched up inside of us, this dread…

We feared– We knew something about ourselves that was irrevocable. We had stepped lightly over a threshold, and now, with regret, cast a glance back.

Where is your queen, your empress? She set the trip wires of the fire, the chain that would rush across mountains and tell you we were coming home, this cursed signal. That was apt, that flame after flame would signal our approach, now from Polverigi, from Halle, watch Salzburg burning, set fire if you don’t mind, to the whole valley floor, and let the summer fill with smoke, let them choke on it, through the intervening space and landscape and you think you can control these things but how easily a spark and cinder escapes and starts its own tyranny, and I watched the fires in Cairo, I watched the fires in Kuwait, I watched the fires in LA and Oakland, I saw the buildings ablaze downtown and felt them singe and called the pyroclast my herald to let them know that we are coming home from the great purpose of our lives we are coming home in clouds and smolders and we are bearing down like wildfire on our homeland—

The People – SF Time Lapse and Justice Interviews

As promised, here is the second set of interviews from the American premiere of THE PEOPLE – San Francisco with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts & Z Space with residency support by Headlands Center For The Arts. Over the next two weeks we will upload each of the four sections (Greek Chorus) created for the performance at Z Space on September 16 & 17, 2011.

Also Here is a short 1 minute time lapse of the show by David Szlasa from Z Space. (Thanks David!)

Justice Interviews:

The People – San Francisco (Video Interviews – War Greek Chorus)

We just finished up our creation and American premiere of THE PEOPLE – San Francisco with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts & Z Space with residency support by Headlands Center For The Arts. Over the next two weeks we will upload each of the four sections (Greek Chorus) created for the performance at Z Space on September 16 & 17, 2011. Thank you again to all the local Bay Area people that took time out to take part in the interview process.

WAR:

Backstage at THE PEOPLE – SF

Here are is a video and some photos taken by Big Art Performer, David Commander, on our final tech before we opened the piece last night.

 

YBCA and Z Space welcome New York-based performance troupe Big Art Group back to the Bay Area with their new work, The People: San Francisco, a site specific, outdoor extravaganza that combines live theater with large scale, real time video projection. The narrative, constructed from interviews with members of the local community who voice their thoughts about democracy, war, terrorism and justice as it relates to their personal histories, loosely recreates the story of Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Live theatrical reenactments are intercut with earlier, taped interviews, projected via large scale video onto the side of a building where the live play and video are viewed by the audience at street level. Perceived as a kind of “living television,” The People repurposes commonly used media strategies such as video clips, interviews and re-enactments, to explore extraordinary forces reshaping contemporary government. It then sculpts these developments into a performative action that takes as its inspiration the foundational idea of community dialogue and the birth of democracy as theatrically embodied in the Oresteia. By inverting the established relationship between “mass-media” and private exchange, it transforms the “town square” into a public performance in which both performers and audience act out crucial roles in the construction of self-government.

The People: San Francisco is part of a larger cross-cultural work in which the video choruses from each location will be combined to create a window into the cultural understanding and variation of democratic public expression. To date, three productions in the series have been presented: The People—Italy, which took place in Polverigi, Italy with the participation and support of Inteatro Polverigi in 2007, The People—Germany, at Theatre der Welt 2008 in Halle, Germany, and The People—Austria at Szene Salzburg in 2010.