Marakeli: The Making of a Science-Art Performance Piece, Part 4 and Epilogue

Summer 2007 – Faultline Festival

The synthesis of these two quite different performances was the project of my summer semester, at the end of which I would perform the final piece in our end-of-the-year festival. Ultimately the master metaphor I came up with was theatricality itself. I would create a dynamic of how “in” or “out” of the fictive space I was, bottoming out at the end of the first monologue with a complete separation from the audience, closing myself into the purely performative walk-and-gesture at random segment. Then, the lights would come back up, and I’d repeat the monologue, only this time making the performative metaphor explicit by singing/chanting the text to a backdrop of my own simple vocal score. I wanted to express that I, as a fully self-aware person, was choosing to engage in the world through theater, challenging the audience to think for itself about the boundary lines between text and performance.

Some final thoughts

Experimental art had already been a preoccupation of mine for many years by the point I came to make this piece. In my first year of college, I was obsessed with the Russian artist Kasimir Malevich (you will find his name spelled several ways, but this is my preferred way). Studying his work led me to understand art as a collaboration between the viewer and the piece, foregrounding my interest in minimalism and the strategies of adaptation and appropriation.

I enjoy a certain reflexivity in art that I see connected to this – for example, Lou Reed’s line in “Sweet Jane” about poets studying rules of verse, and, his placement of himself as a character in his songs (e.g. “Me, I’m in a rock n’ roll band”). After a long time of trying to understand this, I have come to believe my strong attachment to science makes me like art that implies rationality in its structure. I believe “Marakeli” was my attempt to craft a piece that lived in this tradition.

Thinking about it a little further, I recognize there is another aspect to what I was trying to capture, and it was discussed by Yvonne Rainer in “Feelings Are Facts,” which I read in the Spring of that year: she describes a scene she was directing where a performer throws a fit and it connects to her memory of her mom. There is a place for expression in performance. That seems almost too obvious but after being steeped in techniques for producing meaning it was important to me to remember this.

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About aquaticbiology

I'm a person from the San Francisco Bay Area. I like reading, the movies, my family, and biology. I think the science blogosphere is really fantastic and this is my blog about aquatic biology and the life sciences - along with digressions into science-art and commentary. Enjoy!
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