Between Nature: Explorations in Ecology and Performance

27 - 30 July 2000 (Lancaster University, UK)

Based on the co-existence between live performance elements and digital technology, STRING poses a number of questions from the perspective of an ecology of hybrid performance environments. What kind of movement landscapes or 'fields of movement' are possible in this piece? How does the sound environment operate? How do the digital components of this piece manifest themselves physically as part of the live performance event? Which notions of time and space operate in a system which incorporates the process of information travelling? How does the overall system become viable without compromising (if it doesn't) the different possibilities of its heterogeneous components.

Bonnie Marranca (Ecologies of Theater), notions of ecology and STRING

The 'ecology' of hybrid performance environments explored in the performance/installation STRING is about the symbiosis of the physical and the digital. Introducing her book Ecologies of Theater (1996), Bonnie Marranca has explained has interest in how landscape, myth and cultural memory affect performance work. However, she has separated her position from the lineage of the nature/culture argument, New Age thinking and the politics of the 'social construction' of the subject. She has instead discussed how she understands "the world of a work as an environment linked to a cultural (aesthetic) system" (p xiv).

The research process for the performance/installation STRING has not prioritised Marranca's cultural perspective but has primarily explored assumptions between the mechanics of specific practices in live performance. Yet it shares with Marranca the understanding of "a collective of texts, images [and] sounds [as] an ecosystem" (p xiv) and her "nonhierarchical" (p xvi) attitude to the diverse and heterogeneous elements of such ecosystems. Finally, Marranca acknowledges "the organic, living relationship between the body and its experience of a space or environment" (p xvii) around which the research process in STRING has concentrated.

Focus of the research process

STRING manifests a critique of linear/causal relationships which support totalising systems.

The piece has evolved around two main purposes:

STRING acknowledges the existence of gaps in compositional systems. The sound component consists of a conceptual score, a sculptural instantiation of this score and a sonic manifestation which varies according to decisions made during the live performance. These three elements do not necessarily follow each other, the sonic material is not what it is because it follows/interprets the sculpture. The movement component is a series of physical interpretations of situations described by Bachelard which are processed through repetition and acceleration and structured as elements that fill time and space rather than fulfil any other purpose.

In this process the use of metaphor is crucial. It stretches the meanings of every single element/aspect/concept/mechanism and thus makes it applicable in previously inconceivable relationships or systems.

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