It may be understood that spectacle itself is a charged word, and probably connects too directly to Debord alone, so if you want to nominate another term, please do. For our purposes spectacle is the visual and visceral apprehension of the performance event by audience. How much it implies passivity is an open question and in performance art (as in Debord), the term audience itself is somewhat fluid.
There are a number of works in the festival and in the performance catalogue generally which employ the audience as participants or agents in the realization of the work…. As well there is the notion of Experience as Spectacle raised by the description of =Videodrome=. This could describe the experience of the “audience/participants” (Valie Export’s term) in the high pitched environment of performance; or it could refer to the experience of the artist.
Here a discussion of ‘ordeal’ performances; or the gradual unfolding of improvisatory performances — as well as the open ended processes of audience interaction — could ensue.
Sunday November 5 3 pm
YYZ Artists’ Outlet, 401 Richmond St W
This panel was designed to explore some of the issues surrounding the placement of “audience/participants” (a term coined by Valie Export) within performance art, as exemplified or at least suggested by the works in the festival. Does the responsibility of the work lie with the experience of the artist, or that of the audience member? What does it mean to present process as performance; i.e. as a form of spectacle, something to be apprehended visually and viscerally by an audience? Is there a common thread to be found among the several competing strategies employed by works in the festival — performance art as a form of personal research, performance art as a presentation of an ordeal to be witnessed by an audience, performance art as a form of social provocation, performance art as thoughtful entertainment, etc.?
Tagny Duff invited John Dummett to contribute to her presentation. Part of their strategy involved questioning or interrogating the form of panel discussions, trying to break the authority structure inherent in the speaker/audience relationship. They presented their comments as a roving conversation — both physically and in terms of content. Performance as a negotiation of elements; fictional vs. embodied spaces; the role of permission (given or taken) in determining the outcome of a situation; and strategies that break the binary notion of performer/audience were key aspects of their interaction with the audience. Clive Robertson referred to the dehumanizing aspects of spectatorship, in which isolated gestures threaten communal activity. He held this notion up against efforts by performance artists to create a communal situation using what is referred to as a ‘technology of the self’. He also spoke about the importance of being an audience member in the transference of ideas, knowledge and culture. T.V.I. intervened with a demonstration of their reality-checking techniques and devices, including the ‘phenomenatron’ and the ‘ontologator’. Kym Pruesse put forth the notion of ‘psychological envelopes’ as a way of looking at the thresholds at which different types of engagement among audience and performer are facilitated or made untenable. The discussion went in multiple directions, including a questioning of the goal or impulse of performance — as a data collection process, as a facilitated transformational experience, or as a consumable spectacle. A number of intriguing and thoughtful points of view were expressed, suggesting numerous possibilities for future discussion.