//// © 2017 John Hui ////

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One of my inspirations was “the work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936) by Walter Benjamin. He discussed the difference between the original and the remake of an art work, he mainly focused on painting but I wonder if it would apply to performance art or performance sound art, as I would call it? Through this piece of work, I want to explore how I can make a performance ‘real’; What is the notion of realism in performance art? How would I interpret a realistic piece of performance?

 

The notion of reproduction comes through when I try to recreate something that already exists but would the copy create an aura for the original or will it be depreciated? The audience’s respond will be analysed as an outcome.

 

I want to question the way I see reality, as I don’t believe a performance can be real if only the performer(s) doesn’t know that they are being recorded/ filmed, but wouldn’t it no longer be a performance? But if it is, would that have made it more real, because they are ‘in the moment of reality’, natural and being him/herself? But this is impossible to find out while we sometimes don’t know who the ‘real’ us are. It is ironic to have a piece of ‘real’ performance in a sense that, reality is a performance and the person that you are, is a character in the performance, because it is planned and staged as I did before recording the conversation, so is it possible to create a ‘real’ performance? How can I translate this idea in my work? I want to address this paradoxical conception about performance art in this project.

 

The concept of the idea is about how real can a performance be? “Can I recreate reality with performance art?” How do we perceive what is artifice and what is reality? Can we exist in a real moment in a performance or if you are being recorded/ filmed.

The recorded conversation isn’t staged as a performance but once recorded and presented as an art piece, would that have made it less ‘real’ and also considering the fact that it had been edited, it is only a fragment of reality, would it only be ‘real’ if the audio is in its entirety?

 

 

I recorded the conversation between Danica and Malak in the kitchen without them knowing. I am only using sound, while film can distract the content of the conversation and the performance. I put my phone (the device I recorded with) on the dining table as soon as we started talking; I recorded from the very beginning, so I would need to edit the audio in order to make in presentable an interesting to listen to when it is in presentation because there was a lot of cooking sound and silence moments. I didn’t tell neither Danica nor Malak about the performance but I did tell them, by writing that I was ‘kind of’ in a performance during the recording time, but I will inform them and ask for permission when everything are finished. I planned to tell them about the recording them straight after but I decided I will tell them after they ‘performed’ (reading the script of the conversation), I guess they’d probably know by the time they read it.

 

The audio is very entertaining and amusing to listen to, however, the recorded conversation is almost an hour long (56 mins) so I need to edit it down, then I would be able to translate it into a script, but I wonder if it will still be ‘real’ if I manipulate it, would that have made a difference if I use the whole audio? Cut down the silence before or after or in between the conversation? Only using conversations that I find interesting? I don’t want to alter the audio too much as I feel it will not reflect reality but creating something irrelevant using fragments from the audio, it could have changed the context of the conversation, I will properly shorten the conversation by trimming off the part when we were cooking (35 mins), the rest (21minutes) will be presented in its entirety and also can be spitted into 2 parts, the audience is able to chose the track they want to listen to on the DVD player. An instruction list will be provided to guide the viewer.

 

The ‘performers’ will remain to be Danica and Malak because it will then be comparable when the audience listens to both the audios. After the recorded audio being edited and translated into a script, I will ask them to do a performance (in terms of acting) and just read the script.

 

Moreover, I need to consider when the ‘performers’ are going to perform, is rehearsal necessary for what I want to convey?

I will record them on the first go, they ‘ll be only allowed to read the script when they go along, it isn’t about the performance but the reaction when they realise that their conversation was recorded and adapted to a performance, would they recall the content of the conversation and the emotion?

Can they relive the moment? Will the authenticity be translated in the performance? I will need to record the performances as many times as possible to decide which audio I will use to present, as it will evoke confusion in the audience while they are listening to the same conversation (with slightly different emotion and tune). How would be able to tell? If so, what difference would that make, more real or artifice?

 

I considered having the audience to participate in the work by asking them to write down which audio they think is more ‘real’ throughout the presentation, but it think it’d create a different impact while it reveals straightaway its context.

 

The visual presentation is essential. 2 DVD players were used to play the 2 audios, the recorded conversation and the performance. I constructed a box with windows to contain the equipments and to reveal the DVD tray, the screen and the buttons to enable the audience to operate the machines. The Headphones were hang up on the side of the box by 2 screws on each side.

The reaction I get from this piece of sound art was very insatisfying while no one really listen to the whole conversations but some of the audience asked me about the concept behind and the relation between the 2 audios, as they were curious about the piece, they were uncertain of what they heard and they wanted to justify if the 2 audios were different or the same.

I think that if the audios were heard in its entirety and more than ones, it will be more effective and successful because then they will notice the difference and could possible tell which one is the priginal conversation and which one is the performance. Would the audience be more interested if the audios were shorter? Or, is sound art not recognised as art?

There were some problems with the presentation; most of the audience didn’t listen to both the machines, they were uncertain about the duration of the audios, some were puzzled by the operating buttons on the machines, and the headphones sometimes swooped on the other side which had led to confusion. Even with the instructive text on the plinth, the audience still had no idea of what to do, did it not translate? Or the audience was just simply not bothered to read it?

I believe that it would have had a stronger impact on the audience if a clearer and more detailed instructive text label were produced, or with someone next to the machines, directing the audiences.