Friday, 13 December 2013

To conclude...

This process has definitely opened my eyes to a form of theatre that I had never been involved in before. It showed that, contrary to my first impression, postdramatic performance is not meaningless. It does question what we think of as meaning, and has a point to make, though not everyone will always get the point. Earlier in the process I asked myself a question when I thought this unit was unnecessary and I will finish with it now.

Is there a problem with this type of theatre…or perhaps just a problem my understanding of what theatre really is?

Thursday, 12 December 2013


Some reflections after the event:
It was interesting to see that people who were given a tissue were unwilling to rub out another person’s work. They all (bar one) stood unsure of themselves for a minute before either leaving or getting themselves a pen. A few people tried to talk to me (this may be because a lot of people were interacting with the audience in their installations). But as mine was about removing the identity of a person I felt it was important that I didn’t chat away to people. Everyone who was given a pen got involved in some way, to varying degrees. Most people attempted their own type of concrete poetry, though some people’s response was just to write ‘I woz ere’.

The finished pieces of 'art':

It was a challenge getting the sticky backed plastic to stick to the walls, even though it had worked when I had practised in the weeks running up to the event. This was overcome by taping the corners down, which actually gave an interesting effect, as artists often tape their paper down onto their easels.

It was interesting to see who came up, and who was willing to get involved.

Final pre-show thoughts

After a preview of what we would be doing for the installations, and getting some feedback, I decided that it would be a good idea to include one extra thing in my piece. Rather than the 'audience' merely standing and watching my 'performance', I want them to join in. Whenever an audience member arrives at my installation, I will make a decision and hand them either a tissue or a pen; they then have a choice as to what to do next. They could choose to rub out my artwork (it will be interesting to see if anyone is actually willing to do this!), leave without doing anything, or even blow their noses on the tissue. If given a pen they could draw their own pieces of concrete poetry, or merely place the pen straight in the box provided. I plan to have no other interaction with the audience after giving them these items. I won't ignore them, but just appear engrossed in my work. I will have a box clearly marked: “Please place the pen back in the box” on the floor near the audience.

My ‘costume’ will involve wearing an over-mouth mask and rubbergloves. The reason for the gloves is to get rid of my fingerprints which is like losing one’s identity. This is to continue with the idea of questioning the authenticity of art. Everyone who is an artist has an individual style, as mentioned before, it is like their own fingerprint on their work. When people commit a crime people often wear gloves to cover up their identity, and so I will do the same. (This could also link with the fact that copying someone else's work without permission is plagiarism, and thus a crime in of itself!) My installation is all about identity and inverting what we think of as a person’s identity. I will also wear a mask (just like a graffiti artist) because as it covers half of my face it means people can’t read facial expressions and it almost makes me faceless in a crowd. I also hope that the mask will help to show that I'm not going to/am unable to talk.

My installation

In my piece I wish to use a play on words with 'concrete poetry', using it to show our views of the city of Portsmouth. It could be in the shape of the Portsmouth skyline or perhaps a more abstract version of some of the tourist spots in Portsmouth like the spinnaker tower or the dockyards. As part of my installation I will take all of the pieces of concrete poetry that people created earlier in the process and draw them onto the walls (concrete) of the city. Because I will obviously not be allowed to draw directly onto the walls of the Round Tower, we decided that sticky backed plastic on the walls would create a similar effect.

Some examples of this a created in the weeks running up to the event:

I want my installation to play with the ‘audience’s’ perception of performance. I won’t interact with them, in fact, I might not even speak. I won’t be putting on a show for their enjoyment. I am just there in the space, drawing my concrete poetry; almost oblivious to people's stares. I also want to experiment with the idea of individuality, authenticity and identity. When an artist paints a picture, they have a distinctive style which is recognisable. I want to play with that idea by being an artist that takes on other people’s styles. In one of the sessions I got everyone to write their own piece of concrete poetry and in my installation I hope to try and recreate as many of these pieces as possible, copying them as best I can. I will appear to be just drawing the landscape or things that are around like a normal artist but when the audience look closer they will see that I’m actually creating artwork with varying styles.

Another area I need to consider is what costume I should wear. To work out whether my piece will be more effective if I am just in normal clothes or whether I should dress as a 'French artist' or perhaps 'graffiti artist'. This would be to look at people's view of an artist. I will be drawing on the 'wall' in quite a delicate way with pens, so to be dressed as a 'graffiti artist', for example, would invert what you would expect to see.

Fluxus Poems

A lot of postdramatic concrete poetry is quite interesting, but hard to understand as it is very often in different languages. Not all concrete poem has to create an image, as I found out after looking through many examples. The pieces I am creating often will, but some of these pictures will be unrecognisable to anyone but the artist themselves. And often the meaning is hidden from the passerby.  

One artist affiliated with Fluxus who created concrete poetry was Jackson Mac Low. His work was definitely more abstract than the work we created in class and often didn’t create a picture as such. His work focused more on the words than the shape that those words created and was very experimental. He was inspired by John Cage’s chance-generated poems and “[…] subsequently wrote and performed Fluxus poetry. (One) of his concrete poems, called Gathas [...], can be read in any direction.” (Higgins, 2002, p. 21)


Higgins, H. (2002). Fluxux Experience. Retrieved from

Dada and Poetry

The idea of concrete poetry links to the Dada concept of breaking from the constraints of the typeface. An example of this is an invitation to a ‘Dada Soiree’, which is almost a type of concrete poetry. They used stock images, different fonts types and sizes to create a very unusual poster. 
As I am experimenting with replicating other people’s work, I had a go at recreating this poster! It was quite a challenge, and didn’t feel as free as a lot of the other concrete poetry I had previously created. 
(Also, as some of the small words weren’t very clear, I was unable to create an exact copy.)

This type of concrete poetry was very often less about creating a picture, and more about shapes and breaking from moulds. Concrete poetry is about creating art out of words, it is thus giving art a message.

Personal Poems

One week in our rehearsal session we all set about creating our own pieces of concrete poetry. I laid out a few guidelines:

-          The poems didn’t need to rhyme
-          They needed to be about your own view of Portsmouth
-          You could either use the poem to fill in the picture or use the poem to create the outline
-          There is no right or wrong way to do it
-          Just think about a shape that’s iconic to Portsmouth.

Each person in class came up with a concrete poem. It was interesting to see how each person saw the task differently. There were a few about the sea, three or four about ships or the navy in general, and a few about iconic buildings in the area. Some easily wrote a poem to do with Portsmouth and then struggled to think of a picture to go with it. Others thought of a picture easily then couldn’t write a poem so ended up just filling their picture with words. 

 They were all very different.

Some examples: