A public-relations department for the real mind

“I see the ‘personality’ as a public-relations department for the real mind, which remains unknown. My personality always seems to be functioning, at some level, in terms of what other people think. If I am alone in a room and someone knocks on the door, then I ‘come back to myself’. I do this in order to check up that my social image is presentable: are my flies done up? Is my social face properly assembled? If someone enters, and I decide that I don’t have to guard myself, then I can get ‘lost in the conversation’. Normal consciousness is related to transactions, real or imagined, with other people. That’s how I experience it, and I note widespread reports of people in isolation, or totally rejected by other people, who experience ‘personality disintegration’.

When you’re worried about what other people might think, personality is always present. In life-or-death situations something else takes over. A friend scalded himself and his mind split immediately into two parts, one of which was a child screaming with pain, while the other was cold and detached and told him exactly what to do (he was alone at the time). If a cobra dropped out of the air vent into the middle of an acting class, the students might find themselves on the piano, or outside the door, with no memory of how they got there. In extremity the body takes over for us, pushing the personality aside as an unnecessary encumbrance.”

(pages 153-154)

From Keith Johnstone, Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1979.

I read about this book in another book, then found it on the shelves of a house I was staying in in Seattle.

The appropriateness of repetition

The first point [of the Ljubljana Moderna Galerija's manifesto] states the fiscal reality: due to budget cuts, no new display or catalog are possible, so recycling is necessary. Four further points argue for the appropriateness of repetition: rather than succumbing to the pressure to give consumers the new, the museum advocates the value of rereading; repetition is one of the fundamental features of contemporary art (video loops, re-enactment, etc.), so it is appropriate to repeat an entire collection display; repetition constructs history – through publications, research, the art market – so a repeated display retroactively helps to construct responses that produce history; finally, repetition is driven by trauma, and in Ljubljana this is twofold – the traumatic absence of a contemporary art system and the unrealized emancipatory ideals of communism.”

(pages 50-51)

Claire Bishop, Radical Museology: Or What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? London: Koenig Books, 2013.

 

A relationship between subject and object

“Art, if it can possibly be attained, is born at the moment when the aesthetic result is in direct contact with the technical means. All science is good, every technique is good, if it leads to an Art that is concerned with both the subject and the object; art is a relationship between subject and object. The exercising of this relationship is the very stuff of art.”

(page 130)

Pierre Schaeffer. In Search of a Concrete Music. Trans. Christine North and John Dack. Berkeley: U of C P, 2012.

Found while browsing the stacks of the Belzer Library, SFU, Vancouver.

Trance states

“We don’t think of ourselves as moving in and out of trance because we’re trained not to. It’s impossible to be ‘in control’ all the time, but we convince ourselves that we are. Other people help to stop us drifting. They will laugh if we don’t seem immediately in possession of ourselves, and we’ll laugh too in acknowledgement of our inappropriate behaviour.

In ‘normal consciousness’ I am aware of myself as ‘thinking verbally’. In sports which leave no time for verbalisation, trance states are common. [...]

Most people only recognise ‘trance’ when the subject looks confused – out of touch with the reality around him. We even think of hypnosis as ‘sleep’. In many trance states people are more in touch, more observant. [...] In Mask work people report that perceptions are more intense, and that although they see differently, they see and sense more.

(page 153)

From Keith Johnstone, Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1979.

I read about this book in another book, then found it on the shelves of a house I was staying in in Seattle.

The Time of the Absent Museum

In Ljubljana, the first display encountered by the viewer is titled “War Time”: it includes a small anonymous documentary photograph of the occupation of Metelkova in 1993, alongside Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord (1993-1994), a photo series of text on skin, alluding to the rape of Bosnian women. Thereafter, the museum’s entire display is organized around thematic categories relating to overlapping temporalities: “Ideological Time” (the socialist past), “Future Time” (unrealized modernist utopias), “The Time of the Absent Museum” (approximately the 1980s-1990s, when artists compensated for the absence of a developed art system by self-organizing and self-criticizing), “Retro Time” (the late 1990s, when artists began to self-historicize), “Lived Time” (body and performance art), “Time of Transition” (from socialism into capitalism) and “Dominant Time” (present-day global neoliberalism). Contemporary art is therefore staked as a question of timeliness, rather than as a stage on the conveyor belt of history; the necessary condition of relevance is the presentation of multiple, overlapping temporalities, geared towards the imagination of a future in which social equality prevails.”

(pages 48-49)

Claire Bishop, Radical Museology: Or What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? London: Koenig Books, 2013.

 

Why theatre at all? What for?

“Theatres, actors, critics and public are interlocked in a machine that creaks but never stops. There is always a new season in hand and we are to busy to ask the only vital question which measures the whole structure. Why theatre at all? What for? Is it an anachronism, a superannuated oddity? Surviving like an old monument or a quaint custom? Why do we applaud and what? Has the stage a real place in our lives? What function can it have? What could it serve? What could it explore? What are its special properties?”

(page 45-46)

Peter Brook, The Empty Space. London: Penguin, 1968.

From my own library, bought from the Emily Carr University Library booksale, used, for 50 cents.

Willy-nilly through one’s ear

“So let the composer beware. A sphinx watches over the gateway to every field of human endeavour, to every particular discipline. Whosoever wishes to make music will make it, willy-nilly, through his ear. Whosoever wishes to experiment with a series of figures or machines will, whether he wants to or not, do physics or experimental psychology. And all this work must not lead to waste.”

(page 129)

Pierre Schaeffer. In Search of a Concrete Music. Trans. Christine North and John Dack. Berkeley: U of C P, 2012.

Found while browsing the stacks of the Belzer Library, SFU, Vancouver.