The Curtain Rises / Gus23 on Performance ArtMarch 29, 2007
What could possibly top the fact that the other day while reading the April issue of ARTnews at the Union Square Barnes and Noble Cafe, I read that Burton Snowboards has collaborated with The Andy Warhol Foundation to create a crazy line of snowboarding gear featuring artwork by the one and only bestest artist (and fellow Carnegie Mellon University alum)? The launch of my new blog, Gus23: The Blog! Hello Everyone!
I am very excited to be the newest member of the blogging community. I’ve blogged maybe once a month on my previous blog. Unfortunately, there were certain aspects to the blog that weren’t blogger friendly. An example? Well, after you read 9 Lessons for Would-Be Bloggers (and the follow-up 9 More Lessons for Would-Be Bloggers by Joshua Porter at Bokardo.com) you’ll have plenty of inspiration for consistent blogging, or motivation to start one if you haven’t yet. For me, the biggest feature I wanted to take advantage of was the sidebar, where I could list my favorite posts that really sum up the kind of stories I write. I also wanted to have a customizable banner. I pretty much found everything I needed (including a really slick user interface) here at WordPress.
So if you didn’t know, G23 (the newest, coolest, and totally most official way of saying Gus23: The Blog) has a buddy, gus23.com. For newer readers and to reintroduce myself to the world, I am an Artist. Gus23.com is my online studio where you can find all my professional information including my Art, Design, and Photography portfolios. I had a wild time for the past few months learning (both online and from a really great tutor) about web design 2.0, CSS, and HTML. Everyday is a learning day. A day without learning is like…popcorn without butter. Extra butter.
During the next few weeks, I plan on inserting stories from my previous blog onto G23 so that they can still exist on the web. Thanks for checking my new blog out, and I hope you follow me on my journey through the crazy space between Art and Life.
In honor of the curtain rising here at G23, I thought I’d republish one of my older blog stories titled. On Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 5:02 PM, I wrote a story titled Gus23 on Performance Art:
I have a huge history with theatre. I grew up on stage performing in musical theatre productions, choirs, operas, ballets, orchestras–basically any traditional performance medium, I did it. In high school I realized that I was going to look fifteen years old for the rest of my life. I wasn’t getting any taller or any heavier. So, I switched from performing arts to the visual arts. Cut to college, and I find myself incorporating my training with various performing disciplines into my artwork.
Some examples: blocking. Blocking is a huge technical term in the theatre that refers to your position on stage. When I am executing a piece, I try to remember my positioning–or blocking–so that I can convincingly look like I’m interacting with myself. Another example of my performance training coming in is the concept of the ‘fourth wall’. In theatre, a story takes place on a stage where the actors are surrounded by two wings and a backdrop. The fourth wall refers to the invisible wall that separates the actors from the audience members in the house. When I work, I’m constantly breaking that wall when I am actor, then photographer, then actor, and over and over.
My photo shoots are highly performative as well. When I am having a photo shoot, it’s just me and my camera–no one else is in the room. I use the automatic timer that is available on almost any camera nowadays and shoot endless amounts of shots. If you actually combined my photographs from a photo shoot like a flip book, each ‘frame’ could possibly make up a kind of funny moving image. When that timer is pressed, I run into place (dressed in whatever costume I choose), think of my blocking, my pose, my character, hold the pose, and then break character. I do it over again–run to the camera, press the timer, and repeat the whole process as many times as I feel necessary.
My most recent work has me working in the complete reverse way that I’ve been working in for the past five years. Today, I construct collages of imaginary scenes. I appropriate images from the Internet into a Photoshop document. That document, which depicts a staged scene, is empty of characters. In my studio, I have my scene on my large screen monitor, and through some blocking and planning, I figure out what my characters will be doing. I get into costume and have a photo shoot, while referring to the scene at my monitor. Then, I upload my digital photographs, cut myself out, and place myself into the scene. In past years, I would let the action form organically from one character to another. I would shoot myself, and then respond to that previous character, and so on. Now I’m letting the environment control my performance. It’s almost like the scenic designer of a musical constructing a scene, and then becoming the director to direct the actors based on his construction.
When I was younger, I always thought I was going to be an actor. Anyone close to me could have told you that I was going to be performing. In a huge way, I still am. My work explores identity within the American Culture. Technology has allowed me to multiply myself in visual ways that are so real, some viewers can’t get over the fact that I’m cloned and miss the issues lying beneath. My photo shoots are honestly the real deal to my work–that’s when my work comes to life. I already have the image in my head (which obviously changes here and there throughout the process), so all the work at my computer with Photoshop are kind of a bit boring. Its during my performances for the camera when I come to life and think of expressions and positions that are totally different from what I imagined. Like when I put a costume on, I feel like a different character. A simple example would be the difference between a character who is wearing shoes, and one who is not. It’s amazing the emotional and physical difference you feel from that slight change in costume.
In the end, I would like the viewer to feel like s/he’s viewing a spectacular theatre, movie, or television event. The idea that the viewer is the audience member giving me attention, staring directly at me, is very important. My performances, and final static image, are meant to be viewed and examined. I think that is what performances are for actors as well. Sure you can practice in the privacy of your bedroom or studio, but the work and the artist’s talent need to be publicly presented, critiqued, and ultimately leave an impression on someone else.