Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Performing Differently

I've never been that regular a performer of my own work, though I guess I've been reading off and on irregularly for about 15 years. When I had my Salt book out I did a flurry of "gigs" reading from that - but over the last year, I realise that pretty much all of my "performances" have been either collaborative and/or involved new work.

About a year ago I was asked to perform at Whitworth Gallery's "late night" - when I read some of my more technologically focused poems and one written for one of the art works showing in the "Dark Matters" exhibition. Performing in semi-darkness I could hardly see my audience - they could see me - and themselves reflected in the "snow mirror."

Then in the Spring I was part of an ensemble piece at the Custard Factory in Birmingham, where a dozen or so performers did a small segment of "Citizen Kane" - reinterpreting the whole movie during a fascinating and spontaneous hour and a half live performance.

A brief interlude of normality - my performing for the 2nd year in a row - at the Manchester independent book market in St. Anne's Square, and then onto the Flashtag collective's "WORD>PLAY" evening for Didsbury Arts Festival where I performed a soundtracked story where I'd written both words and music.

Then to last night, where I was so pleased to be one of the poets invited by Scott Thurston to read a "letter" from Bob Cobbing's 60s sound poetry piece "ABC in Sound" - where different word patterns for each letter created a wonderfully varied and somewhat mesmerising piece. With the minimalist "N" to go on, I extemporised a little, which seemed to go down well - probably a good thing, given that I was following on from established sound poet, Holly Pester. (The video is below, I'm about 19 minutes in!)

Bob Cobbing's ABC in sound - an Other Room ensemble performance from The Other Room on Vimeo.

So there you go, as much performance art as performance, I've thoroughly enjoyed these slightly unusual little projects - and in particular have enjoyed working with other people or working to a brief that is open to interpretation.

Its interesting - but you wouldn't know from the newspapers or cultural commentators - the wealth of interesting, improvisational work that is currently going on. All of these were really well attended, albeit in small venues; many of them had a multimedia component or at least were captured on film for later showing on the web. As an audience member I've been to quite a few other improvisational events - with musicians, sound artists, writers and artists - and they've almost all been far more interesting and inspiring than some of the more "traditional" audience-performer stand offs that we are used to; whether its Mark Leckey's live mixing at Manchester Art Gallery; the Janet Cardiff audio sculpture at the Sage or the improvisional music collaboration between New York and Manchester at Contact Theatre.

I think if the "real time web" has been transformative in how we consume the virtual world recently, this kind of "real time poetry" or "real time art" is successfully fusing the fun and edginess of a live performance with the thoughtfulness and depth of artistic creation.

May it continue.


Shelley said...

Snow mirror? As a writer I feel I should know what that means. But at any rate, I like the sound.

Adrian Slatcher said...

Not at all, Shelley, I wrote the blogpost quite quick - should have been more explicit - it was an art work by Daniel Rozin which featured in the Dark Matters exhibition. It "reflects" those watching in a "mirror" of static.