“There are few places in Canada where in-depth theatrical research can be explored without the pressure of developing or performing a new work. Nightswimming’s unique Pure Research program provides space, money and resources to artists who are pursuing provocative theatrical questions.” Nightswimming
To what extent can the expression of lived traumas be abstracted without losing emotional resonance? Are there levels of abstraction that intensify emotional resonance? Abstraction enables the enactor/performer to express the lived trauma experience safe, uncensored and emotionally connected. Might abstraction also serve to invite an observer more deeply, honestly and unselfconsciously into a trauma? Using text sourced verbatim, cut-up and wiped-out of personal journal entries, using non-textual vocalization, and by amplifying and digitally modifying the voice, including mixing, layering and looping, this research seeks to investigate expressive states that authentically transfer feeling memory and amplify expressive impact.
Abstraction is appealing to me. It speaks to the nature of memory, fragmented. It also can potentially create a gap that allows for the generalized traumas of human existence to intermingle. Although my artistic crafting of trauma expression is always in search of transformation – whether or not it is achieved – transformation, release, and catharsis were not the goals of this period of research. My primary goal was to accumulate source manipulation strategies in an attempt to mitigate the potency of the material to allow for a greater range of emotional use within a performative context.
I have long been curious about working with an audio artist to explore how amplified sound can be used to deconstruct meaning and manipulate context. I have imagined that audio deconstruction and reconstruction of the voice and body can invoke intense and shocking inner states that are difficult to articulate with language. Once discovered these sound states can possibly bypass the thinking mind and evoke a feeling memory that crosses the boundary of individual experience.
Read the full report here.
Addendum to the Pure Research Report for Life Abstracted:
Since completing the three days of Pure Research for Life Abstracted I have reflected a great deal on how to facilitate a level of safety in the studio environment that enhances the ability of all collaborators to focus on the work, rather than getting caught in the therapeutic implications of the source material. When exploring traumatic material issues will arise that need to be addressed. These issues inform the work and focussed discussion can alleviate concerns collaborators may have about how safe an exercise or line of inquiry may be. I am interested in rigour and play in studio experimentation and in the crafting of performative works. Undeniably I bring myself to the work, and I am responsible for how far I push and release myself within the work. Although I have a deep desire to make intolerable material tolerable for my collaborators to work with, there is a level of deep discomfort that is inherent in the subject matter itself. As such, just as it is my responsibility as a project facilitator to cultivate an awareness surrounding the safety of the whole creative (or research) ensemble, it is equally important for all collaborators to tune into and process their personal concerns regarding the work. These concerns provide a basis for targeted discussion and can inform the crafting of the work as the issues are explored and integrated into a larger creatively devised framework.
All this said, I also do believe that art can heal, and build community.