The picture above hopefully suggests why I've been absent from blogging recently. My current workload has been very much based in writing and theory so the blog isnt quite the right platform right now. However - times are exciting! Semester 1 on MA Design for Performance and Events is coming to a close, which means... Semester 2 is up next! Having to very quickly engage with a subject I previously knew little about has proved challenging but I've made a lot of progress. Over the next 15 weeks I will be focusing on pre-production and design for my final project, which as the post below suggests, is going to revolve around the notion of 'spectacle'. There will be a lot more to come, but for now here's the brief summary from my project proposal.
"Can digital methods be used to counteract spectacle?"
"I want to explore the notion of ‘spectacle’ in contemporary theatre. Looking back on the history of theatre and design, particularly developments in the 20th century, the role of spectacle has increasingly come under the spotlight. For some, spectacle signifies an underlying attempt by government, monarchies and manufacturers to project power across to the masses. The French philosopher, Guy Debord suggested in ‘Society of the Spectacle’ that society had become a “mere representation”, the constant bombardment of spectacle has rendered true reality ‘mute’. Instead, social relationships, leisure and entertainment are governed by the purveyors of spectacle.
Spectacle is both loved and loathed. The popularity of the spectacular experience has never been stronger. On London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, modern spectacular theatre productions continue to break box office records. At the same time, and throughout the course of theatre history, there have consistently been debates over the quality of these experiences. As a society we have never been more aware of the intentions of spectacle, but we are continually willingly to engage with it.
Attempts in the past have been made to destabilise spectacle- not necessarily orchestrated by theatre practitioners - most notably in the minimalist style which surrounded Modernism in the early part of the 20th Century. These attempts were defined by very tight criteria and in the end, the proposed purpose – supposed to free mankind from the grip of spectacle - ended up contradicting the meanings they intended to project. With these failures in mind, it can be argued that in order to combat spectacle, new methods need to be devised that re-evaluate what spectacle is and how it functions. The rise of digital technologies in theatre has often been associated with spectacle. Digital realities and special effects are a means of escaping from the real and a way to plug into spectacle. Previous attempts to choke spectacle did so by trying to shut it out completely. Is it possible to use digital technology and grasp spectacle - subvert its meanings and intentions at an embryonic level, before it has a chance to manifest fully- by using the very methods which define it?"