From Performer to Observer and the space in between: An exploration of the role of performance in interactive installations and everyday life.
This thesis report is has arisen from the work I am doing with my collaborators Arum Larasati Winarso and Austera Premakara which argues there is a simultaneity between performance and observation. I analyze the concept primarily in the context of interactive art and installations but not being limited within it. It is of importance to the work I and my collaborators are currently doing in our Thesis Project (we.ar___.), as it is a piece of interactive art that includes input from the participant for changes to the environment to be made. This gives rise to the question on whether the participant has more the role of a performer or an observer.
FIGURE 1, WE.AR___. INSIDEOUT FASHION (SPRING 2019)
We.ar___.’s Inside Out Fashion (Spring 2019) project, created by Ieridou Marina, Premakara Austera and Winarso Arum Larasati (henceforth Ieridou et al.) is an interactive experience space that brings the participant and the garment into a dialogue by submerging the participant in the story of how the garment was made. It is staged in a concept store that features an interactive installation room that incorporates digitized images of the observer-performer which are captured live.
This study will break down the case study performance into sections, with an aim to determine the role of the participant at each stage and ultimately concluding on to whether the participant is a performer, an observer or something in between.
It will then further analyse the context of rehearsal and practice in dance and conventional theatre, to understand the way a performance develops and to question whether a single performer in an isolated space, observing them-self perform, is either taking the role of an observer or a performer or an intermediate state.
My hypotheses are that:
There is an intermediate state between being a performer and an observer.
There is a moment in time that the two occur simultaneously.
The discussion will refer to various artists’ work that can be related to the subject and philosophical theories explored in this thesis and help reach an understanding of the issues that arise from the hypotheses. Firstly, I will discuss the differences between a conscious and unintended [unconscious] performance, and address how the surroundings, environment and the people can define the performance. This gives rise to further questions regarding the nature of a performance.
A central question is: What makes a performance? Is it the fact that is taking place in a specific space that is proclaimed to be used for performances? Is it the fact that people are watching a certain person or object perform? Is it the fact that it is proclaimed to be a performance by the organisers? Is it up to the observer to define whether it is a performance or not?
Of equal importance are questions such as: What does it take to be a performer? Do you even need to be aware that you are a performer in order to be one? Can anyone proclaim anyone as a performer? Is a performer a person that carries out a task that is being observed and defined as a performance? Or is it simply a person who is being observed?
Performance has two meanings:
performance as an act
“ The accomplishment or carrying out of something commanded or undertaken; the doing of an action or operation.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
This term refers to the completion of a task, usually an insignificant action that does not require much attention.
performance as an event
“ The action of performing a play, piece of music, ceremony, etc.; execution, interpretation.”
(Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
This thesis is asking whether the performance (Performance2) that emerges from our installation can be defined as an action (Performance1) that is being observed, or an action that is being proclaimed as a Performance2) by either the performer (in this case the person doing the action) or the observer (in this case the person watching the action take place).
An example of such a performance is a flash mob, defined as “a group of people that gather in a specific location to perform an action together” usually it refers to an “unusual [action] and intended solely to attract attention and entertain “ (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
The situation in which either the performer or the observer might be unaware that the actions are being viewed as a performance.
Assuming a person is carrying out an action and is being observed by a second person further questions arise. Who defines this as a performance? Do they both have the liberty to define it? Is the performer the one that needs to claim it to be a performance or is it the observer that decides how they are going to perceive it?
By defining the role of the performer we might bring some clarity to the questions.
“A person who executes or fulfills a promise, undertaking, etc.; a person who or thing which carries out an action, function, piece of work, etc.; an agent, doer, or worker.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
“A person who acts plays music, sings, dances, or practices any other performing art (alone or as part of a group) in front of an audience; a person who takes part in public entertainment.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
In this paper, we will assume the most generic definition of this word. Using the word performer3 as, a person that is being observed by someone, even if that someone is their own self.
Performer1 unwittingly given the role of Performer2 by an Observer3
“The action or an act of observing, watching, or noticing; the fact or condition of being watched or noticed; notice; perception.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
“A person who watches or takes notice”
“A person who watches or takes notice; a spectator [part of an audience].” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
We will be questioning the role of the observer further in this paper as a person who turns their attention onto an action or a person or even themselves or even a person that can define someone as a performer and an action as a performance by just focusing his attention on them.
Defining them as an
Observer 3 :
Contemplating everyday behavior and has the liberty to name a Performer 1 as a performer 2. The observer in the performance 3.
“All the people within hearing of something; (hence) the assembled listeners or spectators at a public performance or event [Performance2] (as a play, film, lecture, etc.) considered collectively.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
A group of observers2;
“To exercise (a person) in an activity for the acquisition or improvement of proficiency in it; to train, drill.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
In this paper, I will refer to the idea of a single person in an enclosed environment practicing or rehearsing on their own without any external observers.
Ultimately, all concepts and definitions can be applied to the role of the participant in an interactive installation project that is currently being developed, we.ar___. and what implications this has in the concept of performer/observer. And, just as George Berkeley argues that the world is nothing more than the contents of the mind (Fogelin, R. 2001) , we will question the existence of performance in everyday life.
1.0: Unconscious and conscious performance
Commonly, when referring to watching a performance2, people mean the conventional meaning of the word, implying the action of going to an entertainment venue to watch a play or a show. This type of performance2 is what I would call, conscious performance. All people involved in this action are aware of this being a performance2. In contrast, to what I call unintentional or unconscious performance3, where the term refers to the situation where the performer3 is not aware of performing3.
Conscious Performance [Performance2]:
The person performing, performer2, is aware that they are performing and expect people to observe them. Also, proclaim their actions as performance.
Unintentional (Unconscious) performance [Performance3]:
The idea of a person, carrying out a task or an action while being observed by someone without the “performer” knowing (Performer3). This is the case when the observer3 is defining the action as a performance3 without the performer being aware.
Lowell Cross, in his “Reunion” (Cross, 1999) paper refers to Marcel Duchamp and John Cage playing or performing2 a game of chess in front of an audience, in a designated performance space on the 5th March 1968.
Placed on a stage, with lighting, sound and an audience watching their every move, the two players were actually creating sounds through the movement of their pieces. The sound was not pre-composed by them so they did not have a clear understanding of the outcome. This, immediately makes the two performers2 also observers3 of their own creation.
Duchamp and Cage were part of a Conscious Performance2 since they were both aware of the audience watching them. However, that does not make them solely performers, since they were simultaneously observing as they were playing. What makes them performers2, is the fact that they were proclaimed performers2 by the context of the event. Being on a stage with an audience watching, is enough to make the two chess players, performers2. The context is enough to make this situation a performance2. The two chess players however, are also observers3 in this event as they do not expect what the outcome of their work will be. That places the two in a simultaneity of states.
Now, let’s assume that two chess players are sitting across the street of the cafe that you (the observer3) is sitting. They are playing and they have no idea that anyone is watching their game, so they have not proclaimed themselves as performers. Although, the observer (you) by watching their game, has unintentionally assigned them to be performing. This would be an example of how someone could be part of an unintentional performance3. The chess players [performers3, as they are being observed without being aware of it], are not aware they are being observed and thus, are not performing for someone. The observer3, on the other hand, has the liberty to name them “performers3” in their unintentional performance3.
Nominating performers3, is something that we do everyday, we might do it unconsciously but by focusing our attention to a specific action we nominate it to be a performance. For example, one day, I was on a bus, driving on a bridge and under the bridge there was a guy walking and dancing to the rhythm of his music. He seemed not to know that anyone might be watching him, and there I was, on a bus, meters away, watching him from above and proclaiming him as a performer3.
2.0: The Digital Self / Other / Double
We.ar__.’s InsideOut Fashion (Spring 2019), was an interactive experience that captures the participant as a digital shadow and transfers them into the virtual context of the video projected in the room. The participants could observe themselves in the virtual image and interact with the video as they moved in space. Thus, creating a digital double, as it is called by Steve Dixon in Digital Performance (Dixon, 2007).
The Double as Spiritual Emanation
In this chapter, I am going to elaborate on the more relevant doubles to our thesis project which are: The Double as a reflection, The double as a manipulable mannequin, and Alter ego double.
2.1 The Reflection Double
However, I consider that the mirrored self, the video self and the physical self behave differently. The mirror face, is something that we have all developed through the years. Watching yourself in the mirror makes you act in a forced way, not being your normal unconscious self. You seem to turn into a judgemental, picky and perfectible self, noticing your posture, your body, your features and trying to improve them as you watch without being aware of it. We’ve all been caught watching our reflection in shop windows while walking down a street. We are not consciously turning and observing ourselves, we do it automatically, we seem to have planted it into our brain that the more usual natural action in this situation is to turn, perform1, look, observe and improve.
2.2 The Alter-ego double
Alter-ego double refers to the doppelgänger (see Appendix 1: Glossary ) self and the self that has it’s own consciousness. In folklore and tradition, ( Dixon, 2007) it was believed that people live throughout their lives having two selves, the good and the bad self and each one of them has their own consciousness. Currently, alter-ego doubles are used by some artists, like Lemieux Pilon 4D Art used it in Anima (2002), as their creation that duplicates a performer and makes it it’s own entity, with a different personality and behavior to the physical self. The two can be seen interacting, talking or even fighting on stage. Visually the doubles look the same but they behave in a completely different way, impersonating different characters.
2.3 The Manipulable Mannequin
For Dixon the Manipulable Mannequin double is a soulless, conscious-less object-like self that follows orders on how to move, behave and act from the physical self. Usually the physical self is not visible to the audience. The puppet of the self acts as an extension of the self in a different space. Manipulable mannequin is a concept found in most avatar-creating games. Andrew Stern created games such as, “Virtual Petz” or “Babyz” (1999), that have avatars interacting with the players who are controlling them.
2.4 Reflexive Double as an agent for self-analysis
Niki Woods in the Blast Theory’s 10 Backwards (1999), uses her digital double as a mean of self-analysis, to create a performance2. It is a useful process to find the imperfections and try to improve them or to find what was successful and try to replicate it.
In the case of Niki Woods, she tries to duplicate a behaviour she had when she was eating her breakfast one specific day when the video was recorded, in this case the real self tries to imitate the virtual self that is in the video. Raising the question of which one is the original self and which one is the duplicate. Having a virtual self be the “original version” is almost an oxymoron, in nature we usually try to mimic and come closer to the original, but in this case there is a shift. Thus, making us argue whether the digital means have now transformed this relationship
Similarly to Woods, performers 2 use their digital or reflexive self as a mean of self analysis. Most performers 2, practice using a mirror or a recorded clip to try to improve their performance 2.
If we take as an example a dancer that is preparing for an upcoming performance and is enclosed in a room with a mirror. The dancer performs2 their moves and simultaneously, observes2 them-self performing. The reflexive double is acting as an agent to reach a satisfying performance.
2.5 Analysis of InsideOut Fashion
InsideOut Fashion(May 2019) reveals more than one kind of digital double. As the participant walks up to the concept store that has a window display in the front, many visitors get distracted and look at their mirrored double in the window as they make their way in, activating the Reflection Double. As they walk in the room, they see the three shirts, then picking one up and proceed in the changing room.
The next mirrored, or reflection, double appears in the changing room where the participant is standing in front of a mirror, trying on the shirt. In some instances the participant was alone in the changing room, and possibly had their ‘mirror face’ on, while at other times visitors were assisted by one of the organisers and was aware of being watched.
As the experience continues, the participant walks in a space that has a two way mirror and a projected screen. When the performance begins, the shadow of the participant (shadow double is part of the reflexive double as it is a direct duplicate of the body) is projected onto the screen allowing the participant to interact with their Digital Double should they wish to. As the ‘performance’ comes to an end a light shines that makes the mirror reflect the participant, thus making them aware of themselves again.
The entire experience plays with several possible ways of reflecting and of interacting with the participant and raises the question of whether the participant is controlling the performance or if they are observing it, or whether both are occurring in the same event.
3.0: Interactive Art: Performer or Observer
As we are now developing a new iteration of the we.ar___. project, we are investigating how to raise the participant’s sense of responsibility in the context of their environmental impact, through showing their reflection and their digitized self in the art work. Thus, an examination of precedent work done on this would benefit the project greatly.
How did artists play with the self and how is reflection part of their work?
One of the first names that comes to mind as soon as the discussion about the self and performance and audience roles opens up, is that of Dan Graham. He has created multiple installations that have this as a main theme.
His conceptual work is closely related to the themes discussed in this paper as he repeatedly plays with the shift between the role of the performer, the observer and the digitized version of the self versus the reflected version of the self.
3.1 Dan Graham – Time Delay Room (1974)
His iterations on Time Delay Room (1974) reveal that he has examined many different ways to embark on this discussion through his work.
Time Delay Room is an art installation that comprises of either 2 or 3 rooms with monitors and cameras in different configurations at each iteration. The cameras set in either one of the rooms or multiple, are in a close circuit with the monitors of either that room or any of the others. Some monitors show the footage delayed and some others show it live. Thus, different interactions happen at different times in each of the iterations. See figure 7 for the different setup and interactions between the rooms.
The artist uses the word ‘performer’ to define the person who is viewed by the audience on one of the screens and is heard by the audience as well. But, the performer is watching only the audience on his monitors. That then makes him the observer of the audience, but also the performer for the audience.
The audience, on the other hand, is watching their own actions (in some cases delayed, in others live) and the actions of either the other audience or the performer.
In some of the iterations, all audience members are being watched by someone in these rooms, which makes them performers as well.
Graham defines one person as the performer and all the rest as audience, but I believe that in each iteration, each of the rooms place the visitor in? different states at specific moments. At times, the audience is also performing.
In the diagrams below, the rooms are not predefined as whereas, in the illustrations the artist decided to name them. The diagrams themselves show only the interactions between the rooms and the footage that is transmitted between them.
Graham has also worked on the issue of the double in his performance piece,
In this piece the performer 2 talks to an audience while having a mirror behind him. The audience perceives the performer 2, as well as the audience that is reflected in the mirror. The audience members are “conventionally” the observers 2 but with just a simple addition of a mirror, they can also be transformed to performers 3. While the performance2 goes on, the audience is in the intermediate state between performing and observing.
Through the use of the mirror, the audience is able to instantaneously perceive itself as a public mass (as a unity), offsetting its definition by the performer(‘s discourse). The audience sees itself reflected by the mirror instantly, while the performer’s comments are slightly delayed. First, a person in the audience sees himself “objectively” (“subjectively”) perceived by himself, next he hears himself described “objectively” (“subjectively”) in terms of the performer’s perception. (Graham, 1991)
3.2 Dan Graham – Present Continues Past (1974)
In this piece, Graham uses a single room that has two mirrored walls, and one wall with a camera and a screen attached to it. The screen displays the delayed footage from the camera, whereas the viewer in the room can also perceive themselves in the mirrors in real time. The participant is immersed in an environment where he is initially perceiving his reflexive double and a few seconds later, a digital double through the monitor. The diagram below breaks down the experience of the participant and the roles that the participant has at any given time.
Initially, for a very short amount of time, upon entering the room, the participant is unaware of what to expect and so they observe the space but also perform unwittingly (Performer 3, Observer 3). As the camera starts capturing them, they are performing unwittingly to the camera and actively observing them-self in the mirror (Performer 3, Observer 1). Once they see the footage they actively perform to the camera and actively observe the result of that performance (Performer 2, Observer2). As they are now fully aware of the environment, they continue to perform and they observe the changes in the environment (Performer 2, Observer 1).
3.3 Bruce Nauman – Live-tapped Corridor (1970)
The participant walks through a long corridor with two monitors at the end. One monitor shows live footage from camera located at the other end of the corridor
The other monitor shows the empty corridor.
As the participant walks in the installation, they are just a performer1 as they are only carrying out the sole action of entering the installation and observing it (Performer 1, Observer 1). As soon as they walk in the recording space of the camera, they become an unwitting performer3 and they continue to observe the environment. After the participant realises they are being recorded, they start performing to the camera, as well as observing themselves perform (Performer 2, Observer 2).
3.4 Olafur Eliasson – The seeing space (2015)
This installation is made up from a single glass sphere that is mounted to a wall. Half of the sphere is on the back of the wall, in a dark space, and the other half is in the main exhibition space that is bright.
Performer 1: The participant carries out an action Observer 1: The participant observes the setup and the installation
Performer 3: The participant is being captured by the camera but they are not yet aware
Observer 1: The participant observes the space
Performer 2: The participant performs actively for the camera to capture them.
Observer 2:The participant observes them-self performing in the monitor.
FIGURE 14, A VIDEO OF THE DARK SIDE OF THE INSTALLATION, THE SEEING SPACE (2015)
The space is designed so that the visitor will first see the installation from the bright side of the wall, and then walk to the dark side.
As visitors queue up to see what is behind the sphere, they observe themselves slightly reflected in the sphere, they also see some movement of some other people, that is unclear where it is coming from.
Once the visitors walk to the other side (dark side) they realise that they were observed through the sphere when they were still on the bright side of the wall.
When the participant is on the bright side of the installation in the main space, they are being observed without knowing, but, they are only observing the installation (performer 3, observer 1).
When they are on the darker side, they are observing the people and determining them to be performers (performer 1, observer 3).
3.4 we.ar___. – Me or I (Summer 2019)
This piece is currently in progress, this paper will inform the design decisions of the project and help it develop further. The current idea is to create a piece that participant will interact with their reflective double as well as their digital double.
The participant that is interacting with the installation will be in an open space where people can observe them.
4.0: Social Media and the Individualisation Era: How did technology affect interactive art?
Interactive installations and ‘self-reflected’ art pieces are becoming more and more popular, perhaps due to the fact that interactive art is a product of individual art audiences wanting to gain control of and have an impact on the art piece. This may be because the era we live in revolves around the relationship of the individual to personal computers, social media, computerised assistants, start-up companies.
Technology has evolved not only as a tool to make life faster and more efficient but also for entertainment and as part of the arts. All have the same aspiration, enabling the individual to feel significant and thrive as a person.
4.1 Individualising Technology
It could be argued that the era of individualisation began along with the invention of the personal computer (Storr, 2017) as some users wanted to have their own ‘assistants’ and their own access to the web. With the invention of the personal computer, computers were no longer found only in the big corporations as they were initially.
Through the use of the personal computer, the era of individualisation impacted on the way that companies work. People were no longer happy to be part of a big corporation, or to take the products designed by big companies as the only ones available to them. They wanted to create something of their own. Thus, the era of start-ups began. Using the personal computer people got the freedom to explore the internet and learn though it and thus expanded their careers on their own.
The next development came as access to the internet became so easy and effortless, that it resulted in the creation and ubiquity of smartphones, tablets and social media, more products of the era of individualisation. With the wide availability of smartphones, came the front camera, initially created for video calls, the smartphone quickly became a tool for our digital self to become more real than ever. With social media arising and becoming part of our everyday life, we had the opportunity to share our digital self, network with other and present ourselves to the world in the way we want to. With this came the advent of selfies.
The opportunity of taking pictures of yourself and distributing them unveiled a whole new approach to social media behaviours. Selfies made it possible for us to get closer to our digital selfs and mould them the way we believe is more appropriate to our understanding of how we appear to ourself and to others? By observing our digital self we were judging the quality of ourselves as we appear to others and then performing the changes required to achieve the ideal (digital) self.
Social media is a lot like a Performance2 space, the space expects performance 2. The selfies and pictures posted by the performers 2 to be observed by their audience.
4.2 The evolution of art in the selfie era
Art has not been blind to these developments. The way that many people approach art now is very different to what it used to be.
Dan Graham was one of the pioneers of video art in an era that was not as technologically advanced and during which people were not as engaged with technology as they are today. Graham was fascinated by television, radio, video and he wanted to bring it in his art. In a time that technology was not as easily accessible as now, this factor brought an edge to his work and made it pioneering.
Through the years, his work has made a shift form the video and digital forms (figure 18) to a more sculptural, three-dimensional approach that refers to nature (figure 19) as well as the place of the individual in nature. As we are now surrounded by technology, Graham shifted away from from it, possibly implying that we should turn our attention towards nature as we did for many years.
On the other hand Olafur Eliasson, whilst using digital technologies in most of his pieces technology is never the focus of his work. He uses it as a tool to enhance the work of art and he aims to create a seamless transition from the digital to the physical so that the digital will go unnoticed (figure 20 ).
Eliasson works a lot with technology but, as he notes:
I am discouraged by technology that increases our attention deficit and only adds ‘white noise’ to virtual space and to our lives. It’s a shame when social media innovations aren’t used for productive engagement, because they can be such powerful tools for change. (Eliasson, 2017)
With so much culture being focused around social media and the self, artworks have now become “instagrammable”. The success of an exhibition is measured in how many people visit it, and what better promotion to achieve this than social media. Trends are set through hashtags and photos posted that contain famous works, but many people following the trends attend the exhibitions for a photogenic image that will make it in their social media profile to enhance the “cultured” digital self. The selfie has conquered the art world and exerts an increasing weight on influencing audience behaviours.
One of the biggest trends in social media tends to be collection of immersive installations by Yayoi Kusama which offer the “perfect selfie opportunity” for many visitors.
Kusama’s art, combining dramatic, highly photographable visuals, immersive experiences and perfect selfie opportunities, is seemingly tailor-made for the Instagram age — even though it was mostly created well before social media existed, from the 1950s on. (The Seattle Times, 2019 )
4.3 we.ar___. – Awoken (Fall 2019)
The new interactive installation of we.ar__ . is aiming to use digital means to bring the participant closer to nature. Using water as a medium it will be creating a character, made of water, that will be reacting to the participants in the room. Influenced by how Graham and Eliasson have nature as their main theme and Eliasson’s discrete technology it will be a piece that explores the mannequin double (see Chapter 2, page 13), the reflective double (see Chapter 2, page 13), as well as, brings the participant through different types of performance (1,2,3)and observation (1,2,3).
The technology used will be hidden away so that the participant focuses on the connection between him and the object. The use of digital tools to make individuals respect nature again and create a sensory experience that the visitors will remember as a feeling is the main aim of the project. Make the participants be immersed in an environment that is so captivating, they will not be thinking about their selfie digital double.
Everyday actions like waking up, commuting to work, pouring a cup of coffee, have little significance to lead them to be named performances(although actions are performed). Performance is usually described as an act of entertainment and usually within a specific context, where the audience watches an act being carried out. But, in this paper performance has been defined as so much more than just the act of entertaining.
Performance 1, describes exactly these little insignificant moments that we usually don’t pay attention to. Whereas, Performance 2, is the conventional performance that is defined by context (place, time, audience), where, all Performers 2 are aware of performing for an audience.
The last type of performance is what I have been referring to in this paper as Performance 3, where an instance of performance 1 is given the significance of performance 2 by an observer (observer 3).
Similarly, the performer has been re-defined into 3 different types. Performer 1 is the person carrying out the little insignificant actions and are unaware of performing. Performer 2, is the entertainer, the person who is part of a performance 2 and is fully aware of performing. Performer 2 is defined by the same context that performance 2 is defined by.
Performer 3, is the individual who is initially carrying an everyday action (Performer 1) but is transformed into someone of importance in their actions (Performer 2), by being watched closely and their actions contemplated by an observer (Observer 3).
As to the observers, there are three types as well, the difference between them is where their attention is focused on.
Observer 1 is basically anyone who is watching an action taking place. This action does not have to be dynamic. The action is what we perceive at any moment in time. This makes us all Observers 1 for the majority of our waking day.
Observer 2, is a member of the audience who watches a play or a show. Observer 2 is always aware of observing any sort of performance.
Lastly, Observer 3 is the most important figure in this discussion as s/he is the puppeteer who assigns roles to the performers and assigns to an action a type of
performance (1,2 or 3). He is a “God-like” figure who decides which role will the people around him play at any time.
Referring back to philosopher Bishop Berkeley, who claims that all percepts are content of the mind, Observer 3 could be the sole mind that constitutes all other performative states and roles within it. Observer 3 is the only role out of all those discussed above that has the liberty to alternate the roles of others. (from Performer1 to Performer 3 and from Performance1 to performance 3).
The Space in-between
The position of the in-between lacks a fundamental identity, lacks a form, a givenness, a nature. Yet it is that which facilitates, allows into being, all identities, all matter, all substance. (Grosz, 2001, p. 91).
As Elizabeth Grosz mentions in her Architecture from the Outside (2001), the in- between state is where all identities become one, they merge into a state without boundaries, that makes “both identities possible and impossible” (Grosz, 2001), just like the in-betweenness on the performer/ observer scale.
After breaking down the artworks, I have come to the conclusion that the original aim to get a clear definition of whether the participant is a performer or an observer, cannot be answered due to the fact that the approach towards this philosophical discussion does not lie in positivist philosophy (see Appendix 1: Glossary), which aims for firm definitions and categorisation of concepts and artefacts to establish their identity . It is much more fitted in a post-structuralist (see Appendix 1: Glossary) approach where the two conditions are dependent on individual interpretation and are, in the context of my work, present within the one entity simultaneously.
This approach is now leading me to a shift from defining the performer or the observer as two individual entities, into incorporating both the performer and the observer into the same concept. A concept that includes both states or conditions in a single entity.
Thus, it could be concluded that any human, at any conscious moment, is simultaneously Performing1 (performing an action that can be observed) and Observing1 (observing their surroundings). The two states are, therefore, within the identity constructs explored by Grosz, mutually inclusive as the observation itself is part of carrying out an action which is essentially performing1.
We.ar___. InsideOut Fashion (Spring 2019), allows the participant to explore the roles of performer and observer as the installation is taking them through a lot of different phases and allows the participants to experience various situations in which they are shifting from one role to another.
Placing a two-way mirror as an agent that is able to change the double from a reflective double to a digital double allows the participant to question their role. The installation thus acts as an agent for further questioning of the self and to arise specific questions within the participant, but is ambiguous enough to allow the personal opinion of the participant as to what type of performer and observer they are.
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1.1 Doppelganger (double-ganger):
“The apparition of a living person; a double, a wraith.” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019)
“something mental (the mind, spirit, reason, will) is the ultimate foundation of all reality, or even exhaustive of reality” (Plato.stanford.edu, 2019)
Either/or – based solely on facts and scientific verifications
1.4 Post- structuralism:
Both/and: made to be interpreted and conflicting
The concept of “self” as a singular and coherent entity is a fictional construct, and an individual rather comprises conflicting tensions and knowledge claims (e.g. gender, class, profession, etc). The interpretation of meaning of a text is therefore dependent on a reader’s own personal concept of self.
An author’s intended meaning (although the author’s own identity as a stable “self” with a single, discernible “intent” is also a fictional construct) is secondary to the meaning that the reader perceives, and a literary text (or, indeed, any situation where a subject perceives
a sign) has no single purpose, meaning or existence.
It is necessary to utilize a variety of perspectives to create a multi-faceted interpretation of a text, even if these interpretations conflict with one another.