RETROSPECTIVE SCENOGRAPHY 

 

Strategies of translating archived inspirations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Cecilia was the "Little riding hood" 

the story would go like this: 

 

She would approach the wolf and say:

"Apparently, because the music plays more 

dramatically and the light is shading to red, 

you are about to eat me”.

 - Aina Roca Mora 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREFACE 

Investigation of self becomes investigation of space.  

 

 

    The sun shines fiercely in the morning. Without many tall buildings and hardly any variation in elevation the Netherlands is a wash of light that penetrates any window, including the one in my bedroom, which on the ground floor faces only small gardens and more houses. This light coming through my window reminds me of snow, I can almost smell the cold. 

*

I moved countries for the first time when I was two years old. Now at the age of 27, I have lived in four on rotation. Finland, England, the United States, England, the United States, The Netherlands. Because of this, it can be difficult for me to claim where home is, as even in my home country of Finland I am a minority. It surprises many people that this doesn’t bother me, not in the slightest. I have only ever been a foreigner. It doesn’t come as a surprise either that what I fixate on, the thing that exists without borders or language, is light and movement. I can tell you that Oregon has the cleanest air you will ever smell, its wind in march is warm, and I have never seen more gold in the golden hour. I can tell you that Finland has an air of firewood and is a land of extremes; the darkest dark and the lightest light. And England “sweet cattle smell, the hard-fired earth which still held the embers of the day's heat” I’ve never forgotten those words from author Ian McEwen. These are the shortest moments that have impacted me the most. Moments that can never accurately be documented.

 

*

 

 

My work as a scenographer attempts to grasp that what I have left behind. Not due to loss but instead curiosity. Scenography is an outlet for me to translate my personal, sensorial, memories of the environment around me. I try to give the spectators’ a taste of what that moment was from my perspective; to get close enough to the terrain of that same mood. Here is where the word memory becomes problematic.  

 

Initially, I believed that I was recreating or presenting for the spectator a memory of a time they didn't experience. However, the word memory confuses my documentation process the mood of which is captured eloquently by M. John Harrison. “Memory commits you to the nuance; the fog. If you act on memory you commit yourself on the basis of echoes: unpredictable, faint, fading even as they were generated. No basis on which to inch out across your life, and yet all you have.” This mood being that memories are fleeting, fragmented and flawed as Jerry Koh wrote. However, these memories are mine - I as the observer, the primary spectator, am not asking anyone to recall anything but instead I am trying to translate the moment into an atmosphere through the sensory input I received. As it is the terrain of the mood I want to share, and not my personal story (although this is the inspiration) The event I experience, the memory, the inspiration will simply be named the OBSERVATION from here on.  

 

Choosing the word observation appropriately shifts the research from an investigation to self to an investigation of space. Because of my position as maker I have the privilege to draw from personal experience and memory as a method of locating the mood of an observation. When approaching these observations as a scenographer locating mood becomes locating atmosphere of the space. The space becomes the main character. That really is core of this research, in investigating space as a as a collage of elements, as an alignment of objects, light, movement, colour, etc. My personal perspective is a as method for constructing narratives through atmosphere. These observations are a composition of time, space, and objects - labeled spatial relations. The light coming through my bedroom is not a coincidence but instead a natural composition of time, the whiteness of the blinds, and the sleep in my eyes. Therefore, the research also contains passages on the physicality and position of the spectator. The observer is also one of these spatial relations. 

This research leads to a scenography that frames and filters the performatively of light in our everyday environment. 

 

 

ADD PHOTO . . . . . ??????….. 

 

 

 

The curiosity In such a research that is both personal and analytical, that attempts to create a shareable narrative from an atmosphere and a spatial composition is precisely in these paradoxes, which are addressed through the process of archiving, and translating, to construct Scenography. This process situates itself within the context of a broader scenographic discourse and adresses…  

 

The position of the archive in the artistic process. 

Approaching the design ephemeral topics - atmosphere and memory. 

Translating (interpreting, and adapting) source material. 

The use of classical technique in design-led performance making. 

Multi-modal, multi-dimensional forms of spectatorship.

 

These are all methods of sharing not only what I experience but also how I experience it. Through archiving and translating I attempt to, as an artist (and researcher) share my fascination with the awesome and mundane (the aesthetics of the every day), moments that never exist the same way twice (the liveness of performance), and to prove that sometimes the straightest line to whatever you want to talk about it through something else, through art. It is a retrospective Scenography: a translated account of a past event. A practice that is then implanted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS (currently more for me than the reader.) 

 

 

  1. archive - to document and store that what inspires me. 
  2. atmosphere - how the composition of space influences mood. 
  3. spatial relations - the alignment of spatial elements such as time, objects, and light. 
  4. liveness - nothing the same way twice, why these moments become memories. (performance) 

 

 

Translate (finding a way to interpret the what) visual chapter 

 

  1. translate - to render into another medium. Or fictitious rather than accurate way of documenting.  
  2. Theme and variation (going back to atmosphere). 

 

 

 

Scenography (all about sharing the how) 

 

  1. Using my gathered translations to compose with space and time. How scenography is distinguished from theatre, dance, or cinema . . . structuring a design led sequence. In stu in legend 
  2. planting a seed of ambiguity (a sense of liveness)
  3. my position as maker (sharing the love of investigating how) 
  4. Tell the whole truth but tell it slant. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARCHIVING  

As a method

 

Archiving tries to make sense of a collection, it is not a linear process. Archive as a concept for me exists in all stages of the process. 

 

 

Archiving to categorise what I document

rchiving is way of documenting and categorising to contextualise. Within this research, the collection is photo/video documentation of the observations (of light, and movement as it appears in the everyday). It could be the way a reflection moves across a puddle or the intersection of where the light from a window and a lamp meet. When this collection of light stands alone it is evidence of the natural performativity of our environment. Moments of stumbling upon an unexpected show we didn’t know about. One aim of this research - also my interest - is in revealing these performative moments. Writer Ernst Van Alphen addresses the paradoxical nature of archiving “The unique, singular object ‘is supposed to express its uniqueness in relation to other, similarly unique objects,’ … at a certain point, the individual components are deemed to be only another expression of these objects that surround it. Uniqueness, specificity, and individuality are destroyed within the process of archiving (104). Archiving, within this research, is not geared to highlight the uniqueness of performative light but precisely to highlight their abundance. To strike a realisation that fascinating natural performances are noticeable everywhere, all we have to do is look. 

The categories of these are several overlapping topics still to be covered: 

Spatial Relations 

Atmosphere 

In Situ 

In Legend 

All forms of understanding the environment around me and an entry into translating these observations into Scenography. 

 

Archive as a systems of free associations. This is how I build my scenes. Colour + Music + movement etc = a montage that gets across a certain atmosphere(mood) 

Archive as a starting point for my scenography. The spectator chooses their experience from my archive. 

 

Archiving is way of documenting and categorising to contextualise. Within this research, the collection is photo/video documentation of the observations (of light, and movement as it appears in the everyday). It could be the way a reflection moves across a puddle or the intersection of where the light from a window and a lamp meet. When this collection of light stands alone it is evidence of the natural performativity of our environment. Moments of stumbling upon an unexpected show we didn’t know about. One aim of this research - also my interest - is in revealing these performative moments. Writer Ernst Van Alphen addresses the paradoxical nature of archiving “The unique, singular object ‘is supposed to express its uniqueness in relation to other, similarly unique objects,’ … at a certain point, the individual components are deemed to be only another expression of these objects that surround it. Uniqueness, specificity, and individuality are destroyed within the process of archiving (104). Archiving, within this research, is not geared to highlight the uniqueness of performative light but precisely to highlight their abundance. To strike a realisation that fascinating natural performances are noticeable everywhere, all we have to do is look. 

The categories of these 

 

These moments, when archived, form a montage of associations that I attempt to investigate and transform into something sharable. The research is, however, not in photography. How to reveal these moments through scenography, is the question at hand and archiving is the first step in the process.

 

As mentioned, archiving is not linear and there any multiple openings for its use. In this research, it is the categorising of several overlapping topics, to be covered further on. 

 

Spatial Relations - 

Atmosphere and Memory 

In situ 

In Legend 

 

It is an investigation into what causes these moments to happen. On how to translate what I see into sharable scenography, and on where the scenography will take place. 

 

*

 

Sliding her fingers between the blinds she gently cracked open a view through the window. C did this most mornings, looking out to the bike lane in front of her living room to survey how the morning commuters were dressed for the day. Jackets that had been zipped all the way up for months were slightly more open today, and cuffed jeans showed a slew of pale ankles 

“hmm, it must be a little warmer today”

Peering to the left a gold puddle caught her eye. It had rained yesterday, there were many puddles scattered along curbs and dips but only this one was gold. Why? Taking in the scene this tranquil pool of gold was simply the sun bouncing off a tall yellow building. The yellow, being illuminated by the sun, had caused its reflection in the puddle to appear gold. She took a photo just before  the traffic light turned green and a heard of bicycles came streaming through the intersection, unaware of the golden puddle they were running over. 

“I guess it only looks gold from here” 

She went to brush her teeth. 

 

 

 

CATEGORY: SPATIAL RELATIONS 

An investigation of space

 

Noticing unexpected movement of light - especially natural light - can be seen as an alignment of how different objects relate to each other in a space. When approaching these aesthetic occurrences from the side of scenography what can poetically be described as an eclipse becomes a tight investigation into the composition of the environment we are in. 

 

When looking at spatial composition in this way - and my role as a the witness/spectator - several of these spatial relations emerge as ways of understanding naturally these performative moments, which leads to knowledge of how to design or recreate them. 

 

Positioning: The spectator’s distance, eye-line, and movement in relation to what they see. The gold puddle was only visible from my distant position. 

 

Time: The facing of the window (north), along with the time of day (morning) determined where the sun would hit the building. 

 

Objects: The building in relation to the level of the asphalt. 

 

 

Each observance has a seemingly endless list of spatial relations. What is interesting as a maker is what is choice and what is chance, or in design terms what is an intervention and what is naturally occurring. For example, the puddle had formed due to the rain the previous evening - this is chance. Choice would be a design intervention through means such as adding a puddle on a dry day, or inviting the spectator at an extremely specific times. These interventions are just one way of situating the event into a Scenography. Inserting yourself or something you have made into a naturally occurring performance so as to draw attention to it, is one form of scenography. 

 

Paying attention to these spatial relations, and considering possible interventions are one way of how these documentation are categorised and contextualised within this research. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATEGORY: ATMOSPHERE

Finding the tonic  

 

Investigating the documentation in an analytical way is only one method of approaching inspiration from the position of a designer. Spatial relations are useful strategy for understanding composition, but to create a dramaturgy - something sharable to an audience - we also need a narrative. The nature of retrospection is in looking at past events, memories. Moments in our life that have stuck with us. As creatives, these moments, good or bad, fuel our process. We all have something that inspires us and inspiration works closely with memory as it comes from something we once experienced. Inspiration is a memory that has been distilled into the part/s that stimulated us mentally to go forward and do something creative, and every artist has their own creative form of remembering these inspirations either consciously or not. 

 

The funny thing about memories is they can be like dreams, what we remember is selective, and they can often be hard to describe. The matter looks different when approached from the side of scenography. Spatial design as a medium contextualizes memories into place and space. Place being geographical and space being the composition of the environment. You are always somewhere.  From the eyes of scenographer, memories become something that is able to be documented, to be archived for later reference. 

 

I attempt to consciously archive my inspirations as a form of spatial investigation and a practice into strategies of how I work as a scenographer. I also use my archive as the entry point for the spectator into my scenography. 

 

From the angle of my personal practice, questions regarding both archiving as a method and it’s own form of scenography emerge. 

 

 

 

 

Boxes archive on the illusion of choice. 

 

 

Materials are all sensory input. 

 

In research: Atmospheres are elusive. They fight against being categorised and defined, which is why I am so drawn to them in the first place. I have found that in order to speak and write on atmospheres I need a balance between contextualising them theoretically, and personally (emotionally) expressing them. By this, I mean that atmospheres are - in my definition - both personal experience and have a place in practical research.  

 

Personally: When encountering an atmosphere I try to, in hindsight, recall my own perspective of the encounter; what was my emotional and/or physical state? In my making process, I choose the materials I build scenes with intuitively from the memory of the atmosphere

 

REFLECTIONS ON READINGS

 

"atmospheres are involved wherever something is being staged, wherever design is a factor - and that now means: almost everywhere. Now, this matter-of-fact way in which atmospheres are talked about and manipulated is extremely surprising, since the phenomenon of atmosphere is itself something extremely vague, indeterminate, intangible. The reason is primarily that atmospheres are totalities: atmospheres imbue everything, they tinge the whole of the world or a view, they bathe everything in a certain light, unify a diversity of impressions in a single emotive state"(2). 

 

"Seen in this way, atmospheres have something irrational about them, in a literal sense: something inexpressible. Finally, atmospheres are something entirely subjective: in order to say what they are or, better, to define their character, one must expose oneself to them, one must experience them in terms of one’s own emotional state. Without the sentient subject, they are nothing.

And yet: the subject experiences them as something “out there”, something which can come over us, into which we are drawn, which takes possession of us like an alien power"(2). 

 

As mentioned in my scenographic statement atmosphere, as Gernot Böhme has so accurately described, is “the emotional tinge of a space”(1). “they bathe everything in a certain light, unify a diversity of impressions in a single emotive state”(2) In a theatrical context, atmosphere is how light and space are constructed to influence the mood of the spectator. In traditional theatre, atmosphere is a supportive element for the performer/script. I find Scenography so interesting because it is a design-led approach where spatial functions and elements of space, light, sound, and objects inspire audience engagement - to paraphrase Richard Shearing. It is theatre designed first from the construction of atmosphere to create a mood. 

 

Atmosphere as character and background in cinema: 

In essence atmosphere is broadly understood as an environment. So if looking at atmosphere as a character, what I am describing is the character of an environment. The quality of the light, the texture of the sound, the way objects in the space relate to each other. It is through designing the qualities of an environment that a theatre-maker constructs an atmosphere. My background in cinema studies greatly influences my interest in design-led theatre. 

 

 

"The matter looks different if approached from the side of production aesthetics, which makes it possible to gain rational access to this “intangible” entity. It is the art of the stage set which rids atmospheres of the odour of the irrational: here, it is a question of producing atmospheres. This whole undertaking would be meaningless if atmospheres were something purely subjective. For the stage set artist must relate them to a wider audience, which can experience the atmosphere generated on the stage in, by and large, the same way. It is, after all, the purpose of the stage set to provide the atmospheric background to the action, to attune the spectators to the theatrical performance and to provide the actors with a sounding board for what they present. The art of the stage set therefore demonstrates from the side of praxis that atmospheres are something quasi- objective. What does that mean. Atmospheres, to be sure, are not things. They do not exist as entities which remain identical over time"(Böhme, 3).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRANSLATING AND FREE ASSOCIATION. 

THE MONTAGE OF Archiving, collecting materials. 

Archive as a tool for creation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Methodology

 

Observe: Natural fleeting occurrences are those moments in time that can never be repeated and can only be experienced from a specific positioning. The reflection of the sun, a gust of wind on water, light in a mirror, the internal feeling of suspension, or a startle response that can never have the same effect more than once. Natural fleeting occurrences happen because of an alignment of exact spatial relations - including the time of day, the weather the day before, the height of the observer - me - and a seemingly endless set of measurable spacial relations. I as the researcher label these individual spatial relations Positionings and am also interested in the ratio of when the positionings are choice or chance.

 

Document: I investigate the positionings thoroughly so as to capture that moment in time and understand how specific spatial relations aligned to create the occurrence. I use exact measurements (distances, time, weather, etc) as well as artistic renderings (writing, painting, etc.) to create a documentation of the moment.

 

Present: The next step in my research is presenting the occurrence and its documentation to a secondary spectator. This is the Restropective Scenography. The two methods I use are In Situ: an indication of an occurrence in the space it occurred, and in Legend: a translation of the occurrence in a new space.

 

 

 

 

Initially, I believed that I was recreating or presenting for the spectator a memory of a time they didn't experience. However, the word memory confuses my documentation process the mood of which is captured eloquently by M. John Harrison. “Memory commits you to the nuance; the fog. If you act on memory you commit yourself on the basis of echoes: unpredictable, faint, fading even as they were generated. No basis on which to inch out across your life, and yet all you have.” This mood being that memories are fleeting, fragmented and flawed as Jerry Koh wrote. However, these memories are mine - I as the observer and the primary spectator - I am not asking my secondary spectator to recall anything but instead I am trying to translate the moment in order to give the spectators a taste of what that moment was from my perspective; to get close enough to the terrain of that same mood in hopes that the uniqueness of my own revelation can unlock something universal. 

Therefore `i have come to the conclusion that I need to reword the original phrase: a memory of a moment they did not experience. I have decided upon

A retrospective scenography: a survey of past events or experiences. 

 

 

 

 

The nature of retrospection is in looking at past events, memories. Moments in our life that have stuck with us. As creatives, these moments, good or bad, fuel our process. We all have something that inspires us and inspiration works closely with memory as it comes from something we once experienced. Inspiration is a memory that has been distilled into the part/s that stimulated us mentally to go forward and do something creative, and every artist has their own creative form of remembering these inspirations either consciously or not. 

 

The funny thing about memories is they can be like dreams, what we remember is selective, and they can often be hard to describe. The matter looks different when approached from the side of scenography. Spatial design as a medium contextualizes memories into place and space. Place being geographical and space being the composition of the environment. You are always somewhere.  From the eyes of scenographer, memories become something that is able to be documented, to be archived for later reference. 

 

I attempt to consciously archive my inspirations as a form of spatial investigation and a practice into strategies of how I work as a scenographer. I also use my archive as the entry point for the spectator into my scenography. 

 

From the angle of my personal practice, questions regarding both archiving as a method and it’s own form of scenography emerge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The collected documentation is the photo of the golden puddle. 

 

The practice is in investigation 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it meant to create design-led dramaturgy, spatial performance design 

 

 

 ./;;;;;;;;

 

 

 

Memories 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FLOW CHART OF ARCHIVE 

 

 

EXAMPLE OF A STORY

 

 

 

On March 19th, 2019 I saw a puddle in the south of Utrecht with the sun's reflection looking back at me. It looked like the moon. I placed a rock in the puddle and from the exact position I stood the rock eclipsed the sun. I was unsure whether the puddle was by the past week of rain that had caused a heaviness in the city of Utrecht, like having to find self-motivation during a bout of flu, or from the car wash a mere six meters from the puddle itself.

Regardless, A piece of rock (still researching what type) lay next to the puddle which was curious because I couldn't see any indication of where in the road or sidewalk it came from, and I placed it in the puddle and eclipsed the sun.

The documentation to the left is an intervention to a natural fleeting occurrence; the reflection of the sun clear as the moon in a puddle. This is my first attempt at investigating and documenting the measurable spatial relations to an extremely specific end. 

I measured the size of the puddle [15m], obtained an exact compass reading of my position where I stood, and tried to imprint the feeling of that time in my mind. I documented photos of the rock and information about the weather. I then took a spectator to see the eclipse but of course it could never be the same because my eye height was lower and the sun was one hour further to the west.  From this intervention, I now have further interest in specifically documenting my positioning and presenting the documentation to a spectator and recreating for them a memory they will never experience.

 

On April 8th, 2019 - the day my sister turned 33 - whilst overseeing a mellow workday at a restaurant near the north of Utrecht, I stepped outside to check for new customers. As I breathed in the cold, clean air that only spring can produce I was confronted with what I could only call the Dutch Sky. All week the sun had been diffused behind clouds and buildings, peaking out and warming up the city, after a seemingly endless winter that had begun to feel like a lethargic lack of vitamin D.  All week this spring evening had been hinting at its arrival and finally here it was on a lazy Monday evening.  

 

Spring is and always has been my favorite season.

 

MISSING!!! ARCHIVE AS A PRACTICE (FIND FROM HILDA”S TEXT) 

 

ATMOSPHERE 

 

My operational definition of an Atmosphere: 

When I experience an atmosphere I am experiencing a moment that captures my attention aesthetically. 

The Aesthetics of atmosphere is the alignment of materials, personal perception, and body position in space at a particular and time and for a specific duration. 

Materials are all sensory input. 

 

In research: Atmospheres are elusive. They fight against being categorised and defined, which is why I am so drawn to them in the first place. I have found that in order to speak and write on atmospheres I need a balance between contextualising them theoretically, and personally (emotionally) expressing them. By this, I mean that atmospheres are - in my definition - both personal experience and have a place in practical research.  

 

Personally: When encountering an atmosphere I try to, in hindsight, recall my own perspective of the encounter; what was my emotional and/or physical state? In my making process, I choose the materials I build scenes with intuitively from the memory of the atmosphere

 

REFLECTIONS ON READINGS

 

"atmospheres are involved wherever something is being staged, wherever design is a factor - and that now means: almost everywhere. Now, this matter-of-fact way in which atmospheres are talked about and manipulated is extremely surprising, since the phenomenon of atmosphere is itself something extremely vague, indeterminate, intangible. The reason is primarily that atmospheres are totalities: atmospheres imbue everything, they tinge the whole of the world or a view, they bathe everything in a certain light, unify a diversity of impressions in a single emotive state"(2). 

 

"Seen in this way, atmospheres have something irrational about them, in a literal sense: something inexpressible. Finally, atmospheres are something entirely subjective: in order to say what they are or, better, to define their character, one must expose oneself to them, one must experience them in terms of one’s own emotional state. Without the sentient subject, they are nothing.

And yet: the subject experiences them as something “out there”, something which can come over us, into which we are drawn, which takes possession of us like an alien power"(2). 

 

As mentioned in my scenographic statement atmosphere, as Gernot Böhme has so accurately described, is “the emotional tinge of a space”(1). “they bathe everything in a certain light, unify a diversity of impressions in a single emotive state”(2) In a theatrical context, atmosphere is how light and space are constructed to influence the mood of the spectator. In traditional theatre, atmosphere is a supportive element for the performer/script. I find Scenography so interesting because it is a design-led approach where spatial functions and elements of space, light, sound, and objects inspire audience engagement - to paraphrase Richard Shearing. It is theatre designed first from the construction of atmosphere to create a mood. 

 

Atmosphere as character and background in cinema: 

In essence atmosphere is broadly understood as an environment. So if looking at atmosphere as a character, what I am describing is the character of an environment. The quality of the light, the texture of the sound, the way objects in the space relate to each other. It is through designing the qualities of an environment that a theatre-maker constructs an atmosphere. My background in cinema studies greatly influences my interest in design-led theatre. 

 

 

"The matter looks different if approached from the side of production aesthetics, which makes it possible to gain rational access to this “intangible” entity. It is the art of the stage set which rids atmospheres of the odour of the irrational: here, it is a question of producing atmospheres. This whole undertaking would be meaningless if atmospheres were something purely subjective. For the stage set artist must relate them to a wider audience, which can experience the atmosphere generated on the stage in, by and large, the same way. It is, after all, the purpose of the stage set to provide the atmospheric background to the action, to attune the spectators to the theatrical performance and to provide the actors with a sounding board for what they present. The art of the stage set therefore demonstrates from the side of praxis that atmospheres are something quasi- objective. What does that mean. Atmospheres, to be sure, are not things. They do not exist as entities which remain identical over time"(Böhme, 3).

 

SPATAIL RELATIONS/RETROSCPECTIVE

Initially, I believed that I was recreating or presenting for the spectator a memory of a time they didn't experience. However, the word memory confuses my documentation process the mood of which is captured eloquently by M. John Harrison. “Memory commits you to the nuance; the fog. If you act on memory you commit yourself on the basis of echoes: unpredictable, faint, fading even as they were generated. No basis on which to inch out across your life, and yet all you have.” This mood being that memories are fleeting, fragmented and flawed as Jerry Koh wrote. However, these memories are mine - I as the observer and the primary spectator - I am not asking my secondary spectator to recall anything but instead I am trying to translate the moment in order to give the spectators a taste of what that moment was from my perspective; to get close enough to the terrain of that same mood in hopes that the uniqueness of my own revelation can unlock something universal. 

Therefore `i have come to the conclusion that I need to reword the original phrase: a memory of a moment they did not experience. I have decided upon

A retrospective scenography: a survey of past events or experiences. 

 

ON DOCUMENTING

 

By documenting I mean the way in which I collect my experiences with an atmosphere. This is usually in the form of video, analogue photography, and writing. I am also researching different methods of documenting atmosphere in order to capture it essense for future analysis (for when I want to translate it into a scene.) 

 

DOCUMENTING FROM MEMORY 

The process of documenting through memory is for me a quick and dirty practice of abstraction. Where abstraction in my process refers to experimentation specifically with composing a space using the tools of scenographic design (light, sound, movement). Documentation from memory is a more open method to dissecting the core of an atmosphere - that can then be translated spatially. By already understanding the core of an atmosphere I hope to more precisely be able to abstract through design, and so give myself more time/energy to focus on the position of the spectator.

 

The process of documentation through memory is free, quick, and dirty. It can be drawing, writing, dancing, sculpting, etc. anything that can act as a creative supporting statement for an atmosphere. One striking example of how this can be achieved is with Director Alex Garland in his adaption of Annihilation(2018).

"Garland stated that it was the “very, very powerful strange atmosphere” of the novel that he was drawn to above anything else. “The reading of the book is a little bit like having a dream,” he says in an interview with Google. Thus, a writing method as unpredictable, automatic, and spontaneous as a dream allowed him to create something as original as the source material, whilst still respecting and capturing the dreamy, hallucinatory atmosphere of the novel. Applying the faux-randomness of memory and the mind to his own process, Garland juices his film with a wild and unique dream logic that undulates through its peculiar narrative" (Fedyk).

By adapting the film from memory rather than re-reading the book, Garland was able to capture the atmosphere of the story. Far more interesting and honest than a direct adaption. 

Indirectly addaptingmy own documentation of a stopping point(the atmosphere I have an urgenct to share) also supports my hesitancy to the word re-creation. It is in my philosphical opinion that re-creating a moment in time is not possible and therefore futile. I have no interest in re-creation, and find indirect adpatation so much more rich with feeling, questions, and possibilites. 

 

LIVENSS 

The artificial is pushed to the point where it becomes performative. The spectator must wait, and this process is remembered as being a short time span because even though the moment gratification that finally appears is short it is the spark where the pieces are put together. until the moment of gratification. It is a spark of alignment, realization where the window of perception is open.

 

But . . . once you know you can not unknow.

 

Why was the performative element more interesting and what do I want to continue to develop?

 

The inaccuracy of it being live.

The feeling of loss that goes along with the retrospective scenography is heightened because the ability to capture the photo when done live is given a heightened chance of failure. The natural light from the window in the room remained and the windows were open to simulate the spring air of the natural fleeting occurrence. The light and wind on the curtain were fluctuating in the same way that spatial relations of the occurrences are also always in flux. In a sense, the inaccuracy is more accurate as a representation. Each time the spectator sees the translation almost becomes its own fleeting moment.

 

 


***

 

TRANSLATION

 

USE MATERIAL PAGE ON RC TO 

 

My research consists of compiling a theoretical understanding of Atmosphere as it relates to spatial design. My scenography is an investigation of constructing performative scenes of a specific atmospheric quality. These scenes are built from the synthesis of different materials and presented in a way that aligns with my perspective of spectatorship. I use this method to shape my practical research in the form of theme and variation. For each atmospheric scene I create variations, which are reiterations, and reinventions. This form of experimentation allows to me continue my investigation into material and develop my own creative and theoretical standing on what atmosphere means within the context of spatial design. 

 

 

Collecting:

I collect in two ways, firstly, through documenting an atmosphere I encounter by using analog photography, taking digital videos (if necessary), and reflecting through writing on my experience. I use the images to study the physical space, what factors caused a moment to capture my attention aesthetically; was it the light? The viewpoint? The movement? etc. I use writing to reflect and recall my emotional perspective on the atmosphere which helps when choosing the correct materials to make my performative scenes. 

Secondly, I intuitively collect materials without a particular scene in mind to have a library of choices when I do start constructing an atmosphere. 

 

This collection is a research into the aesthetics of the atmosphere as they relate to materials and personal experience. It is also a way to try to understand the balance between subjective intuition and tangible materials. An example of this practice can be found in OASE Issue 91 “Building Atmospheres"

 

“Since the questions we want to raise in this issue, such as how atmosphere is present in and through architecture, and how architects can construct atmospheres, cannot be answered in a mere rational sense, we have felt that the best way to prepare for the conversations is to investigate our own intuitive associations with atmosphere by collecting photographs and words from our own memory and experience. We started to collect, roam around, and read. We gradually sketched around the topic, in words and images, and only slowly did things fall into place. Old places visited, the reflection of water, a tree, stacked stones and a lady in a flower dress. The memory of movement in sand, chairs in a dark place, a curtain. A concrete house designed by Belgian architect Juliaan Lampens, hidden between trees; the tree-filtered light in the interior landscape. What intuition revealed to us, through these images, was an emphasis on material, texture and tactility, as well as on light, shadow and aging, or to put it differently, the images showed ‘experiences’, evoking sensory perceptions, and stirring the mind”(Havik, Teerds and Tielens, 5). 

I recognise that I also work in this way, atmospheres are an amalgamation of material, perspective, memory, and images that speak for themselves. 

 

The rendering of something into another language(here meaning medium or material).

 

Purpose 1: I use the word translation instead of recreation when I attempt to scenographically present a natural fleeting occurrence that I have documented. I find translation a more accurate word choice because recreation assumes a level of accuracy and transfer that I am not trying to achieve. This translation is the final outcome the secondary spectator sees. The Legend is a translation.

 

However, I think translation could also be used for another purpose.

 

Purpose 2: Translating as a way for the observer(me) to fictitiously rather than precisely document a natural fleeting occurrence. I had this thought whilst in a workshop about William Kentridge's Studio of the Less Good Idea. So far, I have been using exact measurement such as compass readings, angles of light, temperature, etc to gather documentation. I have also been writing which often gives a more personal state of mind to the documentation.

Can I document a natural fleeting occurrence using the concept of translation? i.e. can I use a different materials to translate the documentation in different art form (paint, drawing, writing, etc.) and add these translations to the documentation?

I'm hoping that the small translations I create before moving onto a larger one (The Legend) can open my mind to different options.

 

If presenting purpose 2 alongside the other documentation it is interesting to look at another definition of translation from mechanics: motion in which all particles of a body move with the same velocity along parallel paths. My documentation is already a form of this definition: different evidence for one occurrence that has the same claim to documenting a moment in time. They can be understood individually and as a document.  

 

Artist Study: James Turrell

 

James Turrell is an artist whom I believe also works in with the practice of translations. In a similar way, he is interested in rendering the concept of perception, artistically. Turrell chooses the abstract medium of light to create works that in my opinion are a translation. For example, the work pictured is one of his Ganzfeld works where he explores the loss of depth perception.

 

For me, Turrell's work is inspiring in the limits of scale and abstraction that I could possibly take my In Legends. Turrell also has an interesting view of his own work which I have yet to decide where on the spectrum my work falls. "Turrel calls his art non-vicarious art because, it can only truly be experienced first hand, and so all the descriptions and photographs you may see of it are somehow less than the real experience of the work"(Trotman).

 

IN SITU: An indication of a Natural Fleeting Occurrence within the space that it happened. 

 

In situ is a Latin phrase that translates literally to "on site" or "in position." It can mean "locally", "on site", "on the premises", or "in place" to describe where an event takes place and is used in many different contexts. For example, in fields such as physics, geology, chemisty, or biology, in situ may describe the way a measurement is taken, that is, in the same place the phenomenon is occurring without isolating it from other systems or altering the original conditions of the test.

 

An In Situ presentation of my scenography takes the spectator orienteering. It provides the possibility for the spectator to visit a natural fleeting occurrence. With In Situ, I as the observer create interventions in space by indicating, essentially pointing out a fleeting occurrence in space by actively documenting its progression of time and/or artistically framing the occurrence. In short, I indicate (bring attention to) the natural fleeting occurrences that happen in a pre-existing space. In Situ provides the spectator with enough documentation of the moment that they can see traces of the occurrence or position themselves within the spatial relations so as to bring new awareness and poetry to the pre-existing space that they may not have noticed otherwise.

 

A LEGEND A translation of a Natural Fleeting Occurrence in a new space using scenographic tools. 

 

In reference to unlocking a map. It gives you the information needed for the map to make sense.The etymology dates back to the early 14th century: "narrative dealing with a happening or an event," from Old French legende (12th century, Modern French légende) and directly from Medieval Latin legenda"legend, story," literally "(things) to be read," on certain days in church, etc., from Latin legendus, neuter plural gerundive of legere "to read, gather, select"

 

In Legend  presents a natural fleeting occurrence in new space as a translation - a rendering of the occurrence using scenographic tools in a different space from which it was first observed. The spectator is provided with the documentation as a key to understanding a seemingly abstract translation(non exact recreation), in hopes they will get some sense of my perspective be it the movement, the mood, the light, my state of mind etc.

 

In short it looks like a space that has documentaiton and tools of documentation as a legend to understand the scenography I have created in that space.  

 

FRAMING DEVICES 

 

To [intervene] take part in something so as to alter a result or course of events.Interventions are made using Framing Devices [see below].

 

THEME AND VARIATION 

 

THEME AND VARIATION: THE CLASSICAL CONTEXT

 

Perhaps one of the simplest and oldest techniques used in classical music and dance. But, the works that implement it often stand the test of time as some of the most renowned, when done well theme and variations become a language that can be understood by audiences who are not trained in the art form. This understanding isn't technical, it is emotional. It draws on our basic instinct of curiosity to understand by giving us the fundamentals (the theme) as a base that we can always return to. The same technique is used in most commercial film scores to pull on our heartstrings. But, it can also be a technical achievement. 

Personally, as a dancer, I find that choreographers are too interested in creating a new movement. I have been in dances where almost every count is an entirely different motion for eight minutes. This is incredibly difficult to do well and so dances become drawn out, and compositionally illogical and audiences lose their interest, they lose their base. 10 minutes of movement can come from one phrase, repeated in various ways. If dance is painting one phrase might be oil and introducing more introduced water, and acrylic, and a whole array of other mediums. I don't well it can be a Picasso, if done poorly it's a mess. Theme and variation is a way to stay true to what you want to say. In fiction losing your theme is losing your voice.

 

 

In dance we call it a motif, in cinema a logline. A central theme or conflict that makes the story we are about to worth the watch. The glue that holds the narrative together. It is the lighthouse guiding us back to why we make what we make in the first place throughout the chaos of the creative process. A theme, a motive, the tonic (home key), the homebase of any type of composition. This one - very classical - technique of being able to return home whilst in the very depth of a work be it film, dance, or music is fascinating to me. The infinite amounts of variations one motif can process while still remained tonally in harmony.

 

 

theme and Variation 

In order to situate my scenography into a relevant research practice I use theme and variation. For each atmospheric scene I create, I make variations; reiterations, and reinventions. This form of experimentation allows to me continue my investigation into material, and develop my own creative and theoretical standing on what atmosphere means within the context of spatial design. By making variations I allow myself to:

  • Further investigate the ingredients I need to construct an atmosphere. 
  • To place frames of the same atmosphere into new locations which asks questions of site-specific practice, as well as the role of what is chosen and what is chance. 
  • Build an archive of scenes and materials that may reveal a new development of this practice, perhaps in scale or another development.   

 

 

About establishing a theme and then either following through or diverting. This is important in creating a dramaturgy rather than displaying the archive. (MAYBE THIS GOES LATER, and refers back) 

 

THE DOMINOS 

My own previous work on perception. 

 

The video to the left is a rendering of a suspended chord, similar to those used in impressionist music where the end of a chord just never seems to finish. Imagine singing the whole happy birthday song and then on the last line you never finished the final "to you" that completes the song. It's disappointing. I was interested in setting up this anticipation and disappointment. 

The experiment: On a table, I set up dominos in a line to be knocked down, however, I taped one dominos close to the end to the table so the last five or so would remain standing. I then let spectators knock down the dominos and recorded their reactions.

 

***

 

SITU AND LEGNED (ON FINDING A PLACE TO PUT THE MEMORY) Sometimes I have the ability to work in situ but many times I need a new inspiration to spark the memory of 

 

On LOCATION SCOUTING

On April 16th at around 11 am I went location scouting around my studio at Pastoe with eyes open to find a Natural Fleeting Occurance. 

Walking around unusual surroundings of the second floor I happened upon a hallway of windows, light, and some reflection - the perfect ingredients for a Natural Fleeting Occurrence (which makes me wonder if this new motivation to observe and investigate is a product of my general state of awe during spring). For some minutes I placed myself in a number of positions within the hallway of light; down the stairs, around the corner, close to the ground, against the wall . . . until four steps down I noticed diagonals of light cutting up the room, one on the door, and one on the floor . Having spoken to Hilda recently about Anamorphosis I wondered if I could, from a specific positioning, align those diagonals and create a line. Crouched around the corner with my head tilting sideways I created the straight line. Quickly I borrowed(with the agreement that some would not be returned) some tape from Aina and documented the light and its line. 

I will come back again during the day, knowing that the light will move, and investigate where next I will be able to create the line of light.

 

 

 

ON WHAT I CONSTRUCT 

 

LETTING YOU BE A GHOST ??? 

 

My creative outlet to dealing with atmospheres. I present an atmosphere as a sum of all its materials: sound, light, movement, texture, etc. Each atmosphere has a different recipe of materials and my research involves trying to understand what components are needed (what are my ingredients) to constructing an atmosphere. 

 

Visually: The scene involves framing a pre-existing space. Literally with a frame, and with other devices such as music, additional spatial decor, a performance, and other sensory input for the spectator (whether it be smell, shade, the feeling under their shoes, etc.) These change with each atmosphere but some, I am discovering, are key building blocks. 

Think of a scene in a film and everything that goes into producing that one scene, I simply dissect and separate these elements so instead of being on film they become live. The sound is with the spectator, the frame separates the spectator from the performer, and the performer is in the location. This separation came about from my perspective of spectatorship which I will mention later on. The medium itself comes from my background in cinema analysis, but with my background in dance performance always missing a certain live-ness from film.  

Within my research, questions are developing about what is constructed and non-constructed. By framing existing locations there are some elements that are chosen and some that are chance. This also adds to my perspective on spectatorship but has yet to be delved into theoretically. 

 

SEED OF AMBIGUITY 

%choice and %chance 

 

MY POSITION AS MAKER 

 

 

RICHARD SHEARING ON SPATIAL RELATIONS< IMMERSION< AND BODY/SPACE

 

Subjective experience dependant on spatial relations. 

The body is not an isolated object and is always understood against a background or structure. 

Considering scenography as a balance of specfic spatial relations has been part of my practice for some time. The idea that the position of the observer, and the other objects(ephemeral or not) have all alignet to create a moment of scenography. The specator and their mental state are a key part of these spatial relations performing. 

 

"The term ‘immersive’ has the danger of presenting the idea of a homogenous medium in which a body is saturated or engrossed; however, it would better to consider immersion as a heterogeneous concept (Ingold 2014). The sensation of feeling when immersed in the rain, for example, would depend on the fluctuating forces of the wind or the size of the raindrops; it is their distance, force and speed that give way to particular feelings and emotions. A heterogeneous immersion is the subjective experience of a set of specific conditions. What is needed in current discourse on immersive practice is a more nuanced understanding of how a participant body is situated and bound up within a rich complex performance environment"(11). 

 

THE PHYSICALITY OF THE SPECTATOR 

 

How this changes the choreography of the spectator.

with the curtain, in motion, the spectator also needed to shift and bend in order to catch glimpses of the moment. They needed to position themselves as a fluctuation spatial relation in order to align with the other spatial relations in the room. This was also in part because the scale was significantly reduced.

 

Translations and positioning.  

 

April 24th, 2019 I had the opportunity to work in a small theatre. With little to no idea of what I wanted to achieve so I surveyed my surroundings. I decided to ask: can I combine natural and artificial light within a theatre space. In the blacked out room I opened one window and turned on one warm overhead light at full intensity. From the perspective of the seats and the lighting booth this did little to nothing of interest as a scene, however, stepping onto the stage I was met with a cold and warm shape high on the wall in front of me, a seemingly universal symbol for a sun and a moon. 

 

The two sources of light appeared as orbs as a reflection on the black ground and I began to play with when the sun would take over the moon depending on my positioning. This took on the form of spiraling around the space and playfully dancing with the orbs. This then developed into the shifting of weight - much like the spectator in my In Legends - exaggerated into a movement to try and see the two orbs of light equally.

The video below is my view of the floor. The video to the right is my playfull dance of the spectator. 

 

 

Spectatorship 

My background in cinema and dance, and my current practice in scenography all intersect with my view on spectatorship. I wish to share my perspective of how I experience art, life, emotion - essentially my perspective on experience. This is a balance of being physically/emotionally involved and rationally removed. By this I mean when I experience film, for example, I let myself escape fully into it to be moved by the aesthetics and composition of the atmosphere. However, I also take a step back - sometimes immediately and sometimes with a second viewing or reflection - on how that atmosphere was achieved. What made me dive in? What was the combination of materials involved in capturing my attention? This also occurs in life, if I see a moment of light that captures my attention I wonder the same. Why has everything in the space - the light, my position, etc. - aligned right now to let me experience this moment. So, my scenography is not only pointing out what I notice but how I experience what I notice. 

 

In theatrical discourse, this same way of looking is named the critical or intelligent eye. I first came across this viewpoint in Meyerhold during my undergraduate and intend to dive into more research on this view on spectatorship. It has always been my opinion that by letting a spectator view a work both emotionally and rationally it facilitated their own drive to create. A fire of curiosity is lit in the spectator. 

 

My crafting method to invigorate this form of spectatorship is through full disclosure of the buildup and tear down of the scene. I invite the spectator to help me construct my performative scene by walking with me to the chosen backdrop (location) holding the items, handing me items, etc. Once the scene is constructed the spectator is free to dive into what they see in the frame - supported by the sound, and other theatrical elements, or see around the frame and understand that it is entirely a construction, and only through personal engagement can it be seen as a performance. “There is no autonomous work of art, just. As there is no autonomous viewer who can independently ‘compile’ the performance. Using his knowledge, life. Experience, and background information. The performance and the subjective spectator meet somewhere halfway, and walk along together for a while”(Unknown). I hope that by giving this multi-modal viewing experience I can activate the emotional and rational mind of the spectator and situate them between the two forms of experiencing. I have also found that by combing a precise aesthetic of constructing the scene in a space where not everything can be controlled (the weather, the people, the lighting) the spectator begins to question the percentage of what is chosen and chance, another way their critical eye is activated. 

 

 

THE SENSORY SPECTATOR

In his doctorate thesis Richard Shearing makes a powerful statement on the physicallity of immersion. This same statement can be read from the perspective of direct and non direct adaptation. What is at the core of a memory/and immersion? It is not the scene directly, but the forces withing a scene that makes it unique to that particular experience. 

"The term ‘immersive’ has the danger of presenting the idea of a homogenous medium in which a body is saturated or engrossed; however, it would better to consider immersion as a heterogeneous concept (Ingold 2014). The sensation of feeling when immersed in the rain, for example, would depend on the fluctuating forces of the wind or the size of the raindrops; it is their distance, force and speed that give way to particular feelings and emotions. A heterogeneous immersion is the subjective experience of a set of specific conditions. What is needed in current discourse on immersive practice is a more nuanced understanding of how a participant body is situated and bound up within a rich complex performance environment"(Shearing, 21). 

 

 

“There is no autonomous work of art, just. As there is no autonomous viewer who can independently ‘compile’ the performance. Using his knowledge, life. Experience, and background information. The performance and the subjective spectator meet somewhere halfway, and walk along together for a while”(Unknown).

 

Co-creative spectator

I became interested in scenography long before I even knew what it was. Being devastated by how dance on camera was captured (purely archival) and often feeling under-immersed as a spectator in the audience, I created my first stage work titled “The experience of a moving picture” where I used my knowledge of film - edits, shot composition, motion, and carefully selected score - to create a dance piece that felt more visceral(experienceable) from the seats. This turned into a study on montage, Meyerhold, and choreographic composition in film. My application to scenography read as follows 

“What defines my scenographic practice is composition, specifically cinematic choreography. Regardless of the medium, I am interested in influencing the audience's focus - using motion, detail, and design - so that they are immersed entirely in the world I create. A scene no matter how small never stands alone; it should always exist in its unique history with its own laws and boundaries.

Choreographic Composition in cinematic form. Having a background in dance and academic training in choreography and composition causes my work to be driven by movement. I am most captivated by film and theater where the movements of actors, design of sets, and/or lighting is choreographed. To the viewer this choreography impacts the pacing, the spectacle, and the visual rhythm of a film/work. Importantly, however, this should be done with subtlety. A theater production is not a light show but can work congruently with elements such as light to create unique senses of motion.

When I say choreography I do not mean dance in its classical form; more an advanced form of blocking where rhythm or unison is exaggerated from the norm, where color design or lights dictate motion and the focus of the viewer, or even where the art design challenges the classical visual depth and visceral experience of the audience”(Berghäll). 

For me, this inclusively of the audience/spectator is a co-creative process. My father - a marketing director - understands scenography as creative marketing. We can not show sadness and make a spectator feel sad, what we can do carefully construct a space so that from the perspective of the spectator a certain atmosphere can be experienced. The Scenography of atmosphere lies in the boundary of construction and manipulation but without the perspective of an onlooker, the atmosphere can not perform. It is here that I seek to ask questions about the autonomy of space and if an atmosphere can perform? 

This leads me back to my process in an investigation on whether such a subjective experience, me stopping to investigate a fully built world, can be translated into something more universal? 

 

 

Scenography lies at the intersection of many disciplines. Performance design, dance, fine art, architecture, and more, all with multiple definable strategies/techniques for makers to develop and strengthen their own artistic systems. On the micro level this research is a look into different strategies to handling questions, visible in its multidisciplinary cooking pot, from the perspective of a Scenographer.  

The position of the archive in the artistic process. 

Approaching the design ephemeral topics - atmosphere and memory. 

Translating (interpreting, and adapting) source material. 

The use of classical technique in design-led performance making. 

Multi-modal, multip-dimensional forms of spectatorship. 

On the macro level the research defines Scenogaphy as a practice, not a finished product. With materials such as light, space, the body, and particularly temporality; Scenography is flexible; able to respond to time, new research and altered circumstances. Scenography, as a disciple with many definitions, can be interpreted from the position of who ever the maker is. Scenography)has yet to become attached to a singular technique, instead it relies on spatial investigation and design led compositions to inform the maker. 

“light paints, Quote