During my month of November, I want to investigate how an audio performance walk can enliven spectatorial engagement within urban architectural space. I find myself drawn to the idea that each site possesses a genius loci, a spirit of the place that can be theatrically animated.
I am yet to receive permission from the owners of my chosen site so will be rather secretive until I get the go ahead! What I will say at this stage is that it was constructed as a Victorian panorama (a precursor to the popular picture-house). Members of the public would flock to it and pay one shilling to see vistas from far-off places, laid out across its circular walls. Apparently, a woman would point at the paintings with a stick, booming out a narrative while members of the public gorged their eyes; the Victorian appetite for the exotic was fed by international vistas.
Today, the perspective is reversed as people from all over the world come to the panorama to seek help. It is now used as a refugee center. From 8.30am the place is packed with people who need food, housing advice and information about how to apply for UK residency.
As part of my project, members of the public will once again be invited to view the space, this time listening to my pre-recorded poetry. They will see an exhibition of pictures of the site. I hope this will be the result of a collaborative project with the refugees. Original archives from the panorama and reviews will also be on display.
Like Nadia Bartolini, I will explore how different eras can sit side by side, physically framed within the same urban environment but I will reach back to the more recent Victorian era and not to ancient times. I want to explore how the binaries of local/global, modern/old might be renegotiated through sonic performance practice and whether this can enkindle the genius loci.
Last October, I participated in a MOOC course in Site Specific Dance and Performance run by California Arts Institute. This gave me the chance to enter into dialogue with artists from across the world, view their work and get feedback on mine. The course is running again this month (https://www.coursera.org/course/sitedance). I intend to use it as a platform to begin my planning. Hopefully, it will run again next October 2015 so that I can gain an international perspective on the project once it is more developed. I hope that some of the dialogue on site-specific performance that occurs can also be incorporated into my audio walk.