Posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog: 
Thursday, 24 November 2011
The Space as an Agent.
A Cut A Scratch A Score: A Comic Opera in Three Parts, The Cooper Gallery,  22nd Oct – 5th Nov 2011
As one who has been witness participant to the previous actions of A Cut A Scratch A Score the feeling of absence envelops you as you stand and view the artefacts from the actions. However I suspect those that have not held vigil to the performances may guess that they are viewing the aftermath of a happening. You are struck by that absence and notice the space between the images and the objects. You consider not just the beautiful things but the positioning of those things around the space; you see how they relate to each other and the viewer. In that action the viewer becomes one of those objects. As you wander around the space you see the viewer’s reflection against the projection on the gallery wall. The stage dividing the performative space, interesting as the stage is normally the space where performance is done, you can walk right up to it, the distance between performer and audience is shortened. There is a feeling of playfulness, you again have free reign over your experience.
The script is being typed on projection; you wonder where the writer is, whether this is a live element continued in the work and consider that the writer may be watching you. You are being observed observing. Not the case though, it is a video of Savage’s live script writing and she is writing the movements of the artists. Agency of the artist returns. Standing in front of the video projection the viewers shadow appears on the gallery wall and is put back in the action. The silhouetted viewer reoccurring as with previous rehearsals, now giving agency to the viewer.
All these elements feel familiar however unobvious in their new configuration, you try and tick some of the boxes from past experience of the work; sound, movement, live elements, viewer interaction. The fan positioned at the end of the stage is inexplicable. Is it also an artefact from the rehearsal, an object from the making process when the viewer was not present? Does it simulate the outdoors, or is it there to add a live element to the work?  It stands like a person in the room humming its tune like the hum from the heating system in the botanic gardens. I went right up to it, invaded its personal space and then was shocked to discover my invasion was being documented. The process of viewing is in fact subverted. You realise you are being recorded by a camera out of view above the entry door, pointed directly at the fan. Did the artist suspect that you would be intrigued by the humming little figure? Or was it being documented as it hadn’t been documented before?
The whole experience feels disjoined and unusual, like stream of consciousness, but replayed and repeated, however each time slightly different as a new agent steps into the space and plays its part unknowingly. This space between the image the object and they idea comes into play captivating the viewer. The space holds silent vigil, passive jet nevertheless it is still an agent of the work. Holding charge of its little humming machines (projector, fan, camera) performing their actions rhythmically as the sounds from the performance take centre space. The room plays its role well, reflecting back that action on the brass of its doors. The aesthetic fits; the building designed by Architect James Wallace in 1937 reflecting shapes and colours reminiscent of Kandinsky, performing overlaid with a video of McLean and Bourret making movements; A little nod to modernism.
In the entrance space you sit and are absorbed by the song of The Choir, Lixemburg and Belinfante, it washes over you as you are afforded the space to ‘see the music’. Less of a distraction, the discarded shapes and silhouettes, remnants of previous performances, lean against the wall. They feel like ghosts, their energy still vibrant from pervious action. The bench suggesting there is indeed something to sit, view and contemplate. The yellow wall behind and bench below you indicates these objects may seem like an afterthought but on the contrary you are still under the influence of the artists. There’s a melancholia to the discarded cardboard cut-outs, cardboard that most disposable of materials. Outside the main gallery they are ignored initially as you travel straight towards the imposing sound, as the viewer spectator was drawn to the action by its audio in those previous public places.  As with before the audio completes the enveloping experience. With open gallery doors the sound travels and invites, however the passerby can travel by without interruption this time. It’s my turn to be interrupted, two girls chat loudly as they wander passed, jolting me from my experience.
Posted by Sinead Bligh at 03:42

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