Site-specific media performance
Crabtree Auditorium, Mount Allison University
Presented by the Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB
March 2, 2003
Performance duration: 40 minutes
This live multi-media performance uses a combination of slide projection, wireless video and recorded sound to explore the notion of the auditorium as a place where information, knowledge and authority are communicated. The project was conceived for the auditorium in which it was presented.
Auditorium (Crabtree) considers how the twentieth-century's imagery of the future has become an object of memory, loss and nostalgia. "Modern" ideals of order, standardization, progress and conformity are examined as fundamental to the history of the auditorium as an architectural space where social organization is taught and learned.
Changes in the notion of public space brought about by media technologies have altered audience's relationship the space of the auditorium. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, auditoria were understood as physical sites of representation – where political and cultural authority was staged for an audience. The changing status of this site provides a point of departure for reflection on the human experience of technological development.
The performance begins with the projection of a static image of the Crabtree Building under construction in 1979. This image is accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of a mid-twentieth-century instructional recording – intended to train radio announcers how to pronounce specific words – that continues for the rest of the performance.
After 5 minutes the static image is replaced with a 35mm slide dissolve program reproducing the original architectural specification for the auditorium's sound system on a series of 317 text transparencies. This central image is flanked by two live video projections.
The right hand video projection displays the output of a wireless video camera operated by a remote team moving autonomously throughout the building. The left hand video projection displays the output of a miniature camera mounted on a drafting machine located in a booth adjacent to the auditorium; an unseen performer in a booth adjacent to the auditorium uses this camera to manually trace the remote camera team's movements on an architectural plan of the building.
The work's affect builds on intentionally orchestrated but unsynchronized coincidences between connotations of terms and place names heard on the didactic soundtrack and signifiers of architectural specification and control appearing in the projected imagery.
The audience's perception of this audio-visual material is structured by its experience of the architectural site and by the evolution of its relationship to the unseen performer, the projectionist and the remote camera team over the course of the performance.
Conceived, directed, produced and performed by Tim Dallett
Remote camera team: Donna Wawzonek, Allison Ksiaskiewicz, WL Altman
Projectionist: Trevor Bruhm
Archival materials courtesy of Mount Allison University Archives
Acknowledgements: Critical Vision Art Services, Owens Art Gallery, CHMA-FM, paved Art + New Media, Charles Sheppard, Jan Peacock, Garnet Hertz, Mikiki, Neil Rough, Sue Johnson, Art Arsenau Architect Ltd.
This project was supported by the New Brunswick Arts Board.