a performance experiment
by Francesca Fini
“Alone in the Dark” is an experiment in which I undertake a small personal investigation into the meaning of performance art today. More than any other form of artistic language, performance art, in its fluidity, is called upon to interpret contemporary reality. It is gesture and action that occur spontaneously, free of any representative or mimetic intention but are, instead, rich in a generative power that is unavoidable and unpredictable, and that succeed in fitting together in the anthropological and cultural magma in which we live.
I asked myself what meaning Art in general and Performance Art in particular has today, when the news of the killing of the world's public enemy number one, diffused over the internet with its corollary of photographic fakes and conspiracy myths, is transformed into a kind of planetary performance that is more significant than any artistic action that intends to propose a reading of contemporary reality. Much conceptual Art has been played it's game in this border space between the real and the virtual, simulating the dynamics of information/misinformation, which is a virus that is spreading, nourished by the global consumer rapacity, changing genetically, and insinuating itself into minds, confusing them. It is a process of depersonalization and alienation of the relationship with others that recounts, in all its disarming senselessness, the Times we live in.
Today more than ever, Art must become "honest" and behave actively in the microcosms, trying to create a direct and authentic exchange with people, a true peer-to-peer relationship. An aesthetic activism that becomes urgency.
“Alone in the Dark” project will take place online by means of situational incursions in social networks, video-chats, web radios and streaming services. The idea is that of interference, of a cultural short-circuit, of emotional hacking. The aim is to capture the attention of a public very different from the traditional one of museums and galleries, of the “come and see” type which, in the best of cases, will try to understand what they are watching, but always in their on-the-spot role of spectator judge, in the protective bubble of their little chair.
"Alone in the dark" session # 1 (the rite)
For the very first session of the project, that I called "the rite", I invited eight artists friends in my laboratory in Rome. My laboratory, built by me and by my partner in a special room of my house, is a sort of perfectly cubic performative black box which contains everything you need to perform and to record your actions. The performers didn't have any idea about the project and they were very surprised when I explained them that I expected them to perform in front of a webcam connected to the most controversial video-chat in the world, Chat-roulette. It all took place on a dreary day in August, as the sun melted the thoughts in the mind and made way for action. In this way, the sequence of performances spontaneously assumed the rhythm of a ritual. Strangely, nor perhaps not, all the performances shared the theme of violence (self-inflicted violence, social violence, violence between the sexes, group violence against the individual).
Antioche Tambre Tambre
On Chat-roulette, communication between users occurs one on one and is absolutely casual. You never choose whom you will video-chat with; it is the system that casually fishes out your chat partner from the heap, when you connect in perfect anonymity. No one asks your first and last name; you do not have to register; and you do not need any nickname.
You enter the chat and immediately there appears on your screen the face of a perfect stranger. At that point you can decide if you want to chat with that person. At any time, you can end the communication by clicking on the “next” button and pass to the next user. The public of Chat-roulette is an animal of our times, frenetic and voracious, involved in a furious zapping involving the pursuit of meaning, love, contact, empathy and sex.
The first performer comes on stage. A fifteen-minute timer imposes an ideal time for the action, and offer a way out. The web-cam is connected to the network and there appears on the screen the first unknown guest. He does not know what is awaiting him. But he comes to you in his truth, ready to match his brain against yours, without filters, to pour out his soul, in some cases to share his desperate loneliness, the spark of a confession, the dizziness of masturbation.
The challenge is to make him take part in the performance and keep him glued to the screen until the end.
watch the video of the event
|the technical setting in the "black box", where the performances took place|
The project becomes an investigation into the meaning of roles (the performer and the spectator) and is based on authentic interactivity, which is only possible in a concrete one-on-on human exchange. The performer is acting only for one spectator, recuperating the profound sense of the performance art that exists in the immediacy of the gesture apart from the presence of the public. His interlocutor is there by chance, without prejudice or expectations regarding what he is looking at. Will he will remain connected or not. Will he interact with you or not. Will he understand or not. In more than one instance the unknown guest remains hooked and has used the textual chat to ask questions. The other performers in front of the computer answered him.
The investigation concerns the spectator as well as the performer, who has confronted an anomalous situation with unpredictable implications, because the unknown guest never assumed the reassuring role of the spectator, nailed to his seat and social conventions.
“Alone in the Dark” is “semiotic guerrilla warfare”, it is a cultural short circuit that confronts the performer with another other person par excellence, the voracious consumer of online emotions who travels towards self-destruction, in the dizziness of an appointment in the dark.