Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Constructed Situations

Guy Debord is someone I have wanted to investigate further for some time now. In the late sixties he outlined his theory of 'constructed situations'. I'm lightly going to step over his political motivations (his work aimed to 'break the bind of capitalism') and just engage with his terminology.

Dubord talks about 'constructed situations' for 'viveurs' (livers) rather than audience members. I'm attracted by both these terms. They embody a big part of what excites me about our work.

Constructed situations indicates towards the co-authorship I find so important in this work. The artist authors but they only other an outline – a framework in which the audience has freedom to act, to make choices and bring their own unique references and responses to. Each audience member thus re-creates or contributes to the piece creating a co-authorship between the artist(s) and the audience. Neither fully responsible for the end result but both essential to the creation of the finished piece.

I also love the word 'viveurs' instead of audience members or participants. It's too pretentious to actually use, of course, but it has the right thinking behind it. Viveurs live through the piece, they are active participants responding and shaping actively. The piece is not separate from their life but a space of heightened narrative & theatricality. They don't become other people when acting in this piece, they remain themselves. The become the narrative cliché of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. I have found that making this work hugely feeds my belief in the good of other people. I'm amazed by the amount of sacrifice, intelligence, ingenuity and warmth 'viveurs' display when given the chance. Stories create a space for ordinary people to be heroes. The 'living through' these stories, the 'viver', creates an intimacy between the piece and the 'viveurs' and a collective ownership around the ideas which emerged during the piece.

More tomorrow.

1 comment:

Leigh Caldwell said...

Does Debord have any more analysis of the nature, taxonomy or techniques of constructed situations?

It's fine to say "constructed situations exist and they can enable this kind of outcome". But it would be more powerful to be able to say "this is how you construct a situation, these are the methods and if you choose this one, that will happen".