Loop: 20 GOTO 10

As part of this year’s digitial festival, Kate Shields presented an installation called Loop. This was a fantastic piece, and received official support via one of the Grassroots Grants. Loop involved feedback produced between two mobile phones filming one another, the result of which was projected (also adding to the inputs to the phones). The images produced were strange, hypnotic and weirdly restful.

The exhibition also included a series of supporting events, such as (B)loop, a musical response from R. Dyer, and some film screenings. There was also my own appearance, a spoken word piece called 20 GOTO 10.

I love doing commissioned work, as it challenges me to be innovative. Despite this being a one-off performance, I tried a number of new things. One of these was making the script into a mobius strip, so that my own reading was in a loop. This meant part of the script would be facing the audience, so I added pictures and large text to it. These may not have been easy to see, but I wanted to give the impression that the script was an aesthetic object in itself.

As any public speaker will tell you, do not write your own slide software – you should use one of the standard tools that are available. But I wanted to incorporate the idea of loops and decay into this aspect of the performance. I knocked together something with processing which displayed video loops, making them darker over time, to be replaced by the next when I used the clicker.

This was a lot of work, but it was taught me a lot. I originally planned the work as a way of preparing some material for Amateur Escapology, the show I’m doing next month. Instead, I ended up talking about a very different theme, that of the importance of ritual, and how ritual works further and backwards in time.

Something I’ve realised recently is that I’ve been more successful with performance than publication. This comes down to the huge anxieties I have about my writing. With a performance, there is a commitment to complete something; whereas submission for publication is something that can be ducked. Which is not to say I haven’t pulled performances, but it’s rarer that I can get away with it.

But it does get easier. When I worked on the first Slash/night many years I became convinced that it would go badly and ruin my enire life. I was more stressed about 20 GOTO 10 than I should have been, but it is getting easier. A day before I looked at it and decided it was horrible. But all the good things I needed were in the script, they just needed to be shuffled. I’m glad I did this.

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