Sophie Calle

Sophie Calle – born in France in 1953.  Described as a ‘writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptional artist’ She often followed and photographed strangers, which can be very controversial. This practise began when she moved back to France, and realised that she did not know anyone, Her decision to follow others was born of loneliness. Later, she also hired a detective to follow her, and compared his notes to her own accounts of her movements in order to gain an outsider perspective to her own life.

Her museum exhibition ‘Ghost’ is noted by Peggy Phelan as a commentary on the nature and ‘liveness’ of performance. Calle interviewed the public as about stolen paintings and displayed descriptions of their pieces in their place. She believes that the paintings are in themselves a performance element, and the public perceptions of the painting are more important than the painting itself. in trying to re-create the paintings using other people’s perceptions, she is playing with the reality of the painting, but displaying something that is not there in reality. There is a juxtaposition between the presence of her work and the absence of the original art.

Over her life she has kept autobiographical images and stories of her life. To do this, she would take a snapshot of what she wants and then hire someone else to take the photo.  Some critics would question whether or not this is still her work. Calle claims that she conceptualises, and then allows her ideas to be influenced by the perceptions of another person.

I  feel that while Calle uses some questionable methods to complete her work, they were more acceptable in the time that the work was undertaken then they would be today. I understand that many people may find Calle’s methods to be somewhat disturbing. However, I do not think that her projects caused any harm overall. I think that she looks at performance and the nature of what constitutes a live performance in an innovative way. She very much considers an individuals’ standard, everyday actions to be a performance. I think the way in which she considers these normal actions from multiple perspectives, both that of the individual themselves and other people and strangers, is very interesting. In this way, I feel that her work narrates the importance of perspectives within art.

I feel that, for me, this image represents Calle's work. This is not only because it represents the city and country of her origin, but also because it shows the important nature of perspectives. For those close to the tower, it is huge, whilst from further away it is far smaller. This for me is a parallel to the way Calle looks at others from an outsider's point of view.

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Workshop session 1

Workshop session 1 reviews:

In our first workshop session we covered an introduction to blogging and basic methods for keeping a log or seminar diary of progress.

We also took photos for our avatar image and posted them with keywords that related to the image as an excercise on association and simple posting.

We then discussed briefly the future of the project and began to think about the process of making a score of an everyday activity that would allow us to trace our actions as a sequence of smaller movement, which we shall undertake in time for the next session.

Overall this session was fairly simple, but allowed us to straigthen any issues from the beginning, particularly for those new to blogging. It has also set the scene for the routines and aims of the upcoming term.

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Reading – Peggy Phelan: The Ontology of Performance

This week’s reading was ‘The ontology of performance: representation without reproduction’ by Peggy Phelan

Main arguments of the piece:

  • Peggy Phelan is firm in her views that a performance can only exist in the present.
  • There is only live and mediated, there can be no other levels of liveness, other than an original performance.
  • Other forms of performance that are mediated, recorded or repeated are no longer true performances
  • Phelan refers to the work of Sophie Calle, who responded to the theft of paintings by replacing them with descriptions and drawings of the missing art.
  • This served to demonstrate that although the original artwork is gone and is therefore no longer live to view, a new performance may take place based upon the previous work

New Key words:

  • Ontology – philosophy which deals with the matter of being (referring to the concept of reality), or the way in which a conceptualisation is specified.

French artist, Sophie Calle, whose work 'Ghosts' Has inspired the writings of Peggy Phelan

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Live and Mediated performance: The Matrix

The 1999 film ‘The Matrix’, explores the paradox of reality and illusion. The narrative and perspective often blurs the distinction between dreams, and events that have actually occurred. The movie also uses a shift in perspective from what happens in the world that is familiar to the viewer and what happens in the world of the matrix. This aspect of the film was designed to create in the minds’ of the viewers that there is a possibility for the existence of another reality which exists despite their not being able to see or experience it. In this way the movie has been linked to Socrates and Plato’s ‘Allegory of the cave’, a story which explores the possibility of living in a mediated world, as well as a live one, and asks the question:  is it better to live in a mediated world, where that world is all you know, or to see the live world and know the truth? This story echoes Neo’s situation as he becomes aware that there is a world which he had not known about before, and which most people will never experience. I feel this exploration exposes the possibility that there may be different levels of reality, rather than a strict definition where a given state is either reality or fiction.

This idea could link in to the concepts of ‘live’ and ‘liveness’. When an event is being seen first-hand, as it happens, we refer to the performance as ‘live’. A performance that is seen as a recording or on television is a ‘mediated’ performance. Just as the matrix explores levels of reality, some critics, such as Philippe Auslander would argue that there can also be different levels of liveness, rather than simply what is live and what is mediated. For example,instead of being seen as mediated, a performance that is a repeat of a previous show may be seen as a different level of live to the original showing.

Neo's alternative reality

Alternative reality in 'The Matrix' - Live or Mediated?

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Journey, Responsibility

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