a screaMachine proposal

"Separate" is a technology enhanced performance project created to take place in the streets and parks in New York City.
"Separate" comprises two similar performers, clad in white jumpsuits, each starting at one of two city parks. Each has a video projector slung around his neck, projecting an animated b/w video onto the path ahead of him, as he walks. They each pull a weighted milk crate, behind them, on a rope. The contents of the crate are unknown, inside a black garbage bag. The animations show a homeless character walking and crawling on the streets of New York. The performers make slow progress, pulling their burdens, constantly with their eyes on the projection just ahead of their feet. They pass each other en route, without acknowledgement, and continue on to the park that the other had left. They remove the projector from around their neck and hang it on an overhead bracket, then remove newspapers from their milk crates and lay them out in the pool of projected images from the projectors overhead. They settle down for the night on the newspapers, with the projections dancing on and around them. The performance ends when the light of a new day bleaches out the projections.
SEPARATE is a multimedia artwork that addresses issues of homelessness, disenfranchisement and isolation. It raises concern about the burden of trying to exist in an increasingly technological society, where identity is reliant on participation.

Two performers carrying projection rigs, travel the streets of New York City, dragging their respective burdens. They are clad in simple white overalls and move slowly, with heads lowered, following the dancing light composed of projected moving images. They pass each other, without acknowledgment, en route to their resting spot for the night.
Once at their respective destinations (which was the location the other performer had started from), they unpack newspapers from their sacks and lay them out as bedding, filling the area of the projections. They spend the night resting on the newspapers till dawn, when the performance ends.
A camera crew tracks each performer throughout. There is no fixed audience, just on-lookers who may watch till the park closes. The camera crew remains till the performance ends at dawn. Film permits will be obtained.
Generators will be provided for electricity. Equipment will be mounted on free standing rigs.
Video Projections: animated scenes of a homeless character crawling, walking and laying in the same neighborhoods that the performances will take place. The videos will be looped, forming a continuum, not a narrative. The videos for each performer are similar, but different and the performers handle their tasks in a similar but different manner. Samples shown are samples featuring East Village backdrops.
"Separate" is a performance series that mixes technology with live action performance. The struggle of the performers, as they follow their predestined paths, is enhanced by the animated imagery projected onto the ground ahead of them. Images of individual struggle are projected into this live scene of a man pulling a weight. With the metaphorical weight of the world in tow, each performer makes slow progress in solitude, not noticing another in a similar struggle. Upon reaching his destination, he rests, ironically in the same spot recently vacated by the man he just passed, who, in turn, currently inhabits the spot the first just left. It implies a continuum of changing locations, a migration from one point to another in an endless struggle to take rest from the burdens of the world and of the individual.
The projections continue through the night, saturating each performer until dissipated by the advent of a new day. While this might represent a new beginning, we also must recognize the inevitable approach of another night. The use of the newspapers as protection from the ground and wind, indicate the character's complete absorption in, and link to, the world outside of his isolation. The movements of forces beyond his control which invisibly affect his life, represented by the newspapers, become a source of comfort, though provide scant protection against the local troubles of his existence.
By repeating this performance at different location pairs, the artist presents an image that persists through time and location, that is more than just a freak occurrence, that represents the possible for all times, all locations and all people.
"Separate" provides a metaphor for struggles of mankind against the world of their creation. To be human is to struggle with the human condition, but it is also to struggle to exist physically within the constructs of mankind... even the most far removed tribal communities are effected by, and interconnected with, world affairs, the internet, cell phones and other technological achievements. The trials of nature have all but been replaced by human constructs, especially in the Western world, so the struggle for survival becomes a struggle to fit in to society and to function as befits a productive member of the community. While we all experience a degree of personal isolation, those outside of society suffer an isolation uniquely extreme; the struggle to survive within the system is doubled by the rejection inherent in that system; personal isolation is compounded by physical, technological and financial isolation.
Like a modern Sisyphus, or Beckett's iconic walkers, the performers are locked into a pattern of endlessly moving a weight, a burden, while surrounded by reminders of their status and the workings of the machine that provides their burdens.
With the presence of camera crews, issues of privacy and individual space, surveillance and voyeurism veil the scene.


© Gearóid Dolan, 2004. All rights reserved