Notes on My Next Project
By Richard Foreman
Amongst the many possible strategies
of "spectator oriented" art--two seem to me to stand out. In one
style--the spectator is carried on a rollercoaster through various
pre-determined emotional focal points. In the second, more meditative
style, events are slowed up and relatively detached from each
other so the spectator can project his or her own depths, resonating
with the presented "material."
"ZOMBOID! Film/Performance Project
partakes of theses two strategies simultaneously, with live action
visceral involvement in counterpoint to on-screen projections
of a more meditative nature--the actual aesthetic "event" arising
in the elusive psychic space "BETWEEN" these two contrasting styles.
is the first manifestation of the International Bridge Project.
A completely new venture for me--in The International Bridge Project,
along with collaborator Sophie Haviland, I not only film material
around the world to serve as continual "bas-relief" backdrop to
my performances--but I also explore an unusual aesthetic procedure.
It is not unique that "ZOMBOID" utilizes
continual projected background for a performance event.
WHAT IS UNIQUE
Is that that background is a self-contained full-length digital
film, with the live performance orchestrated in front of that
film, using the self-contained film as a theatrical score against
which the performance is adjusted and articulated.
The performance of "ZOMBOID" presents people
responding to, echoing and being "infected" by projected on-screen
manifestations, in much the same way that in 'real' life we are
all psychically invaded by the many levels of material that flash
in and out of the consciousness that seeds that great psychic
ocean inside of which we drift.
The film itself is meditative, non-narrative,
beautiful and somewhat off-kilter--yet containing no "extraordinary
NO EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS?
Again and again these days I see films and plays being promoted
to audiences on the basis of the many "interesting " real-life
subjects presented in those works.
It seems we live in a world where everyone
is interested above all else in "interesting subjects." But shockingly--I
maintain, that the desire for subjects of "interesting subject
matter" is, in fact, an avoidance of the REAL subject of real
art, which is--What?
The real subject is presence itself, the
scintillating "presence," of any and all selected items--but presented
in such a way that one's primary experience (the aesthetic experience)
is to realize that the SUBJECT ITSELF doesn't matter--but is always
in fact the TRIVIAL aspect of the art event.
That trivial aspect (the "subject") is
what we focus on when we chose NOT to be deeply engaged with what
art is deeply about--the full, multi-dimensional "presence" of
whatever subject is being obliterated by the power of "present-ness."
However, by the usual gluing of our attention onto the ostensible
"subject matter"--we try to protect ourselves from the deep ego-shattering
experience of art.
Oh, you say--but Shakespeare had stories
and subjects! Yes--but we've had it, and had it, and had it ad
infinitum--and now we are into something else--new, adventurous,
rewarding and full of delight in unexpected ways. But, you say--Shakespeare
(for instance) had stories PLUS a poetry that fragmented simple
coherence with a wide range of associative mental links. But I
maintain that now the time is ripe for other strategies in the
midst of this floundering and spiritually confused world.
Much to my surprise, I began this work believing I was entering
a new realm of art-making--and that with "ZOMBOID" I was entering
a realm of pure aesthetics--but as I started putting down my thoughts--describing
to myself and to others what I believe I am doing in this work--I
realized a certain ANGER rising in me, and I realized I was thinking
more in political terms than I had expected. (The politics of
I REALIZED THAT I BELIEVE, THAT NOW IS
THE TIME FOR A CELEBRATION OF ELITIST ART!
Let's dare proclaim that in the face of
a society increasingly crying for a media-driven, market-oriented,
popular art, reaching out to everyone at once--while "deep thoughts"
are officially allowed in such art, they must only come in a form
that is easily communicable to all.
BUT I MAINTAIN
that to feed the individual human spirit, the true art of these
times must be a kind of demanding gymnasium where sensibilities
get rigorous exercise--so that those sensibilities then become
more refined, able to pick up on and appreciate the patterned
intricacies of a world which is usually, in art, simplified into
recognizable social and psychological clichés or knock-out effect.
Such normal strategies lie about the world because they talk about
what we already know (which is always wrong) in languages with
which we are already familiar (and therefore put our more delicate
mental mechanisms to sleep) -- all this, instead of waking us
up with the uncharted energies that throb behind the facade of
the shared world of communicable convention.
SO IN TODAY'S ARENA, I MAINTAIN
THAT ONLY ELITIST ART
presents the true facts of 'always-in-process' human beings who,
while pretending to themselves and others that they are coherent
"wholes"--are really but a tissue of micro-tendencies and impulses,
most of which are effectively ignored by the defense mechanism
of consciousness that allows the individual to feel secure in
his or her "picture of the world."
BUT ELITIST ART
Offers the spectator a chance, through the development of subtle
discriminations, to enter the true PARADOX of lucid, aesthetic
"trumps" the popular art of media culture, offering the alternative
to the bottom-line world that leaves so many of us parched, spiritually
depleted, half human precisely because we are asked--
TO DENY OUR ELITIST TENDENCIES!
NOW-ANYBODY IS WELCOME TO ENJOY
It tends to speak of powerful hidden things and energies, in language
(the full range of theatrical language) that is isomorphic with
those hidden things and energies, rather than in the language
of daily life--because a language made isomorphic with such intuited
processes seems most connected to ultimate, deep-lying things.
AND TO POINT TOWARD THOSE ULTIMATE
in the case of this performance--"ZOMBOID," the motif utilized
How does this work? The aesthetic goal
in "ZOMBOID" is to build an entire world from small image/idea
clusters that bounce off other image/idea clusters--much like
the way the real world is generated from millions of small, local
interactions between event quanta from different realms.
The performance of "ZOMBOID" is then an
attempted model of the depth of the world at work.
The world, it would seem, starts out not
with a story or a theme, but with the random (statistically guided,
perhaps) pouring forth of multitudinous radiations--twitching
and throbbing in concert.
So now, here in front of an audience--we
invoke and mirror this world process, generating the energy of
Required of us all, however, in order
to be sensitive and alert to what is invisibly taking place in
the depths of the world's creativity, is to free ourselves from
both perceptual habit and inherited mental habit. (Keatsean "negative
One must, in effect, blindfold oneself,
blocking normal faculties so that other inner resources are forced
The theme of the blindfold becomes, then,
the theme of "in-sight."
But an insight that that produces not "ideas,"
because ideas, no matter how convincing, are never more than the
tiniest slice of the full pie of reality and, therefore, always
less than the whole truth.
Instead, we would, through aesthetic means,
rhythm and composition, event and paradox--"tune" the deep self
to the "truth" that all things echo and reflect all other things.
We would work towards the perspective that each isolated moment,
even those that seem relatively empty, is in fact pulsating with
the full energy of the deep source,
And so, the motif of "ZOMBOID" is the facilitating
But in "ZOMBOID," the embodiment of that
motif generates a unique "No Man's Land" between two aesthetic
worlds presented simultaneously on-stage.
THE STAGE IS SPLIT
between the meditative world of archetypal tableaux, (imaginary
"mental" content projected on screen) --
And in counterpoint-- the concrete world
of physical bodies, twisting and lurching in reaction to irrational
impulses that "trump" the myths and hierarchies of consciousness
that we normally believe organize human life.
THE UNBRIDGEABLE SPLIT
between these two worlds is the "location" in which "ZOMBOID"
manifests itself. The art event is, then, a new and un-namable
"thing" that arises in the space between screen image and live
bodies--a space that is intuited rather than seen and identified.
To risk offering an art based on this "split"
is to walk the tightrope over the abyss between imagined human
mastery and the un-chartable "other" that is never controllable
-- BALANCING PRECARIOUSLY
in that energized limbo where the art called "difficult" does
its secret and unpredictable work.