Thursday, October 20

Cuttings 24 - Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is an interesting artist to look at because interdisciplinary art forms are such a feature of her work - she uses song, she is a amongst other things a singer - but her show are more like performance art than concerts - this is a whole new framework for the performance of song..
Her use of technology is also fascinating - below are some quotes from Phillip Auslander's analysis of how Anderson plays with 'voice' and deconstructs 'presence' and her identity as a performer - its quite dense but i wrote up quite a lot because it really is very interesting.
Having said that, I dont see that much parallel between her work and my own ambitions for this project - quite on the contrary, I think the aesthetic I want to achieve is very pared down, stripping away anything that gets in between the audience and the songs/singing - certainly not putting technology in between the two..

>The dissemination of performance art as entertainment. Anderson's performances occupy the cultural position of rock music more than that of performance art, as do the records she has made for Warner Brothers.< >The performance also spills over the boundaries of the 'live' event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1983. Anderson had recorded her song 'O Superman' in 1981, initially for a small label. The record was reissued by Warner Brothers and even made the British pop charts. That song, already familiar, appears in 'United States' much the way a hit inevitably appears on the program of a rock concert. One can purchase a sound recording of the entire performance and listen to Anderson driving a car while driving a car.< >The quanta in Anderson's performances are monologues, songs and other music, projected visual images, hand gestures, dances, and electronic effects, which again can stand alone as short performances or can be combined in longer pieces.< >sequence< >overtly autobiographical< >Anderson's use of electronics to distort her own voice into those of her characters; her 'male' voice is but one example. These voices are no longer her own, yet they do not belong to an identifiable Other; they belong to no one; Anderson's voice becomes vertiginous even for herself. Anderson becomes both the radio voice and the listening subject: no reciporcity is possible among her various voices because they cannot all exist simultaneously.< >Her work is...closely analogous with that of rap's scratchers and samplers because Anderson participates in the market for popular music...< >While Anderson's use of amplification and electronic instruments and effects devices eneables her literally to fill a large performance spacewith her voice and sound and her visual projections create a context for her movement, they also become layers of mediation through which the spectator must percieve her: she is never immediatly present.< >Anderson then sings a song whose only lyris is the line 'Do you want to go home?' The song is a duet between Anderson and herself , in which she sings in her natural voice and the harmonized male voice simultaneously.< >Because the main structure of authority in performance is the concept of 'presence', these deconstructive strategies focus on putting presence into question...congruent to mass media discourse at a structural and phenomenal level even though they [Anderson and others] perform 'live', they are always mediatized. They use the structural similarities between their performance work and television discourse as a means of representing what I have called alienated 'self-in-alterity' that is the social effect of mediatization, thus giving the spectator as social subject an opportunity to comprehend her own positioning under mediatization...Anderson uses technology of mediatization to disperse her own presence and, thus, to deauthorize her position as performer, while presenting an implicit vision of a mediatized environment as one in which the traditional ideologogical heirarchies are undone, a vision that holds out the possibility that a progressive cultural politics may yet be forthcoming from withing the structures of mediatization itself. For Anderson, the potential exists in the free-floating signifier that is an electronic (non)identity.<

All the above quotes are from:
Presence and Resistence - postmodernism and cultral politics in contemporary American performance - Phillip Auslander - University of Michican Press, 1992.

added 29/10. Relevant quotes from:

'From the Ice Cube Stage to Simulated Reality: Place and Displacement in Laurie Anderson's Performances' by Silvija Jestrovic

-Laurie Anderson as a 'storyteller' and 'traveller':
'travels that eventually became transformed into stories, lyrics, music, and images.'
'In the opening segment of the video (Art:21, 2001), she addresses the viewers from within a gigantic billboard over-looking a busy New York City street: 'Most of the work that I do as an artist, whether its music, or images or a story, beings with a place. A room, a road, a city, a country - these places become jumping off points for my imagination.' '

-'Heterotopia is a site wihin which different, even incompatible spaces could co-exist...her music as its own heterotopian quality being a fusion between the musical and the visual, combining singing with talking and live with recorded sounds.'

-''Duet on ice' explores liminal versions of theatricality as a device that foregrounds the immenently artful and artificial qualities of a performance, but also as means of transforming reality into a play, a happening or a street spectacle.'

-'She is not only interested in language as a vehicle of narration, but also in its cultural implications and sound quality that often becomes part of the musical score.'

-'She has created works that are hard to place within one genre and medium of presentation: some belong to thefamily of Wilson/Glass' brand of postmodern opera...others could be described as theatricalised rock concerts...Her shows have been described as 'electronic operas', 'avant-pop musicals' and 'mutli-media performances'.