11 March

The new spectator

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When arriving on Gertrude Street, Melbourne, I was struck almost instantaneously by its architecture. The look and feel of the street reminded me of the loft apartments in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ or of a town scene taken directly from a spaghetti western. I then began thinking about the street not as a string of buildings but as a film set; the residents and visitors as characters and the benches and tram stops as props.

In this light, I was reminded of Lars von Trier’s Dogme 95 manifesto; a stripped down style of filmmaking that adheres to the strict rules of low production value and high emphasis on storyline. In particular, I took reference from the film ‘Dogville’ – a story of a city-dwelling outsider on the run from an authoritative power, who stumbles upon the town and seeks refuge from its towns people. Aside from its storyline, one of the remarkable things about Dogville is its framing. Using only painted lines on the floor of a studio, the viewer is transported into the lives of these characters and is given a unique viewing position of observing multiple perspectives in real time.

In my reading of ‘The Sensible Stage: Staging and the Moving Image’, Elie During comments in an interview with Alain Badiou:

“One can also speak of the abolishing of the auditorium rather than the stage. In any case, what this action marks is the emergence of a new spectator who is no longer a simple spectator but also an actor or actant participating in a kind of collective creation.”

In view of this, the phrase that is ringing in my ears constantly is that of ‘the new spectator’. We are no longer able to passively consume information in the way that we once were able to. The rise of the MTV and internet generations have meant that we now have an increased viewing alertness to multiple devices, and mosaic editing techniques. It is as though now, the single screen is not enough. We now want to be immersed, involved, included but in a private space. One that is not on a platform or a stage, but that is safe and without humiliation or exhibition. The position of the spectator is not one now of consumer but of activator. We are no longer a spectator of the image but a corporeal component that works within it.

Referring back to the same interview between Elie During and Alain Badiou, Badiou notes:

“There is theatre as soon as there is public exhibition, with or without a stage, of a desired combination of bodies and languages. The exhibition of the body alone we will name ‘dance’ and of language alone ‘reading’, even if no pre-written text exists. Theatre is the intersection of the two.”

It is therefore the positioning and relationship of the body to the screen which is what I am attempting to explore in my time here. Using a combination of multiple physical screens with varied editing techniques, I aim to invert the ‘stage of the real’ with that of the constructed by creating a town within a building.