Interview in Riga about The Extra People

This is quite old, but a good interview about The Extra People, a piece which is no longer touring but instead rather morphing into our reality.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-uLWiLmjmA
The interview is from August 2017 when it played in Riga as part of the great Homo Novus festival.

See the last post for passwords and access to full documentation of that work. And info about it here.
http://www.anthampton.com/Extra_People.html

the sensitive evidence of the body. Reading Augé during lockdown

“Metro, boulot, dodo [subway, job, sleep]: only a somewhat lazy irony could contest this triad as a symbol of modern alienation. The constraints it reflects are those of all social life; one might even, continuing along this line of thought, note that the somewhat inverted negative of the sequence (no more work, no more subway, no more sleep) would be a better symbol for the difficulties of the time, by making free hours and insomnia a result of unemployment. Subway, job, sleep: the interesting thing is, to the contrary, to understand how the sense of individual life is born of the global constraints that apply to all social life. Except for a few cultural details and a few technological adjustments, every society has its subway, and imposes on each and every individual itineraries in which the person uniquely experiences how he or she relates to others. That the sense is born of alienation has long been shown by ethnology, among other disciplines, and this truth remains paradoxical only because a certain idea of the individual resists it, anchored in the sensitive evidence of the body, which, in turn and return, defines the limits and meaning of the social.”
– Marc Augé – In the Metro – 1986

Autoteatro – some documentation during Covid-19

During the Corona crisis i’ve been noticing some questions popping up from people in the performance and theatre arena trying to imagine or getting interested in new forms that might be more possible within the current and forseeable constraints we’re facing.

I’m working on a number of things that I hope will help this debate and will post them here and elsewhere when ready, but for now –

I’ve decided to share some passwords to videos of past work below, not because the work in their entirety offer any packaged-up solutions (they all require a presentation framework and people coming together to do them) but because i think there are some approaches and formal devices within them that might give rise to other ideas by people who are already heading in a certain direction.

Most of my work is pretty hard to capture in documented form, but I think these ones come over kind of ok.

I’d be happy to hear any thoughts / responses / questions – you can get me on twitter @aantt or email
http://www.anthampton.com/contact.html

_________

THIS IS NOT MY VOICE SPEAKING – 2011 – with Britt Hatzius
For between 2 and 4 people at a time in a simple, large-ish room.
> https://vimeo.com/31684607
password – notmyvoice
info here >
http://www.anthampton.com/notmyvoice.html

GURUGURU – 2008 – with Sam Britton and Joji Koyama
https://vimeo.com/6615141
pw dicky
info here > http://www.anthampton.com/guruguru2.html
‘Without giving away too much, I can tell you that for 50 minutes, I sat on a named seat (‘Dickie’ to correspond with my name tag) in a non-confrontational group therapy style semi circle with the other four participants, facing a TV monitor, while we were each sporadically given instructions for what to do and say via headphones. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. As someone with a strong dislike for enforced participation and ‘organised fun’, this may seem to be quite a turn up for the books, but there could be a number of factors that contributed to this (…) The piece unfolds into exactly the kind of performance I enjoy, with quite ordinary people saying quite ordinary things in an increasingly un-ordinary situation, carefully engineered by the artists. And they successfully manage to construct a sense of temporary community without even being in the room – impressive!’
– from “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Dickie…” by Rachel Dobbs.

The Extra People – full video

Info here >
http://www.anthampton.com/Extra_People.html

https://vimeo.com/175827776
password is > extras

Here’s a few notes to clarify the video –

• All the sound is heard via by participating audience via in-ear headphones. The audio from the video is best listened to with headphones, to give a sense of the binaural effects (once in the space).

• The voice is a text-to-speech ‘tool’, a child’s voice, which exists here (‘Olivia’, in English/Australian) as a commercially available download for a computer – it cost me 15 euros. In the intro section (the ‘induction’) the voice talks about itself and touches on this. There is ‘no-one there’, no human intention behind the utterances – all this stuff that’s being ‘said’ has actually never really been spoken by anyone, only assembled algorithmically from many other recordings made with that child (which are then sliced up into different phonetic utterances). There’s something quite worrying about this tool that can be made to speak things which have absolutely nothing to do with being a child, that the voice is being literally instrumentalised. At the point of arrival, you type words (“describe your own voice in two words”) into a box and hear them spoken back to you by the same child voice immediately.

• The video shows the piece in Philadelphia – where we did runs of 6 hours, so about 180 people per night – and the situation there was interesting – a big old theatre right in the centre, with union laws meaning we couldn’t do things like move stuff from the back wall without the festival having to pay thousands of $ for a whole bunch of guys to come in and do it for us. So the paper backdrop on the back wall ended up being pretty ragged! In a way the falling-apart look goes well with the piece, but it’s not usually that messed up.

• The video at the end (59.11) no longer exists. Despite being fascinating and very disturbing, I found it stamped too much of an interpretive gloss onto the experience so I cut it.

CUE CHINA >
Some writing about it all on my site here

And here’s the full documentation
https://vimeo.com/45472319
password is jia

Looking for admin / manager / producer

dear friends and colleagues,

I’m looking for someone to take on the role of admin / manager / producer of my work. This role is quite particular due to the nature of what I do

(which often varies in nature!)… a brief outline below, and a longer one available for anyone interested. Contact info@anthampton.com 

hope to hear from you

Ant

_________________________________________________

Artist producer / manager (part-time/ freelance basis) for Ant Hampton

see http://www.anthampton.com 

What’s required – 

A person in charge of production and administration for my work

• Main tasks: negotiation of fees and other financial conditions, tour and gig organisation (travel, accommodation, transport,…); budgeting and organisation of new productions and new language versions of performances; invoicing, following up on payments; keeping track of income and costs; preparatory work for German tax declaration (income and VAT)

• Other tasks: support activities for performance production and distribution (e.g. following up on venues’ expression of interest); set preparation; support with other administrative aspects (e.g. KSK). Distribution work (trying to find me gigs) is not required. 

• Hours per week: 20-25 on average (flexibility required and offered)

• Skills: good planning skills and equal ability to respond and adapt to unexpected situations; good budgeting skills and ease at managing money; knowledge of German tax system and admin, precision, reliability; speaking different languages is a plus. 

What’s offered – 

• Adequate salary based on percentage (20% of artistic fee) that results in ca. 10.000 -12.000 Euros per year (gross / brutto); extra tasks if / when possible (e.g. set preparation) paid on top.

• Flexibility regarding when / where work is carried out. 

• Chance of working internationally even if travelling is not required; possibility to work autonomously and freedom in defining many aspects of the job and rethinking them, work with different artist through artistic collaboration

Blue Jeans

While I was at the urinals, you were over there straddling the Dyson Airblade™, blasting the soaked crotch of your wet jeans with compressed air. We’re in central Coventry’s basement public toilet together with a handful of other strangers, all of us bathed in an intense blue glow designed to disrupt a junkie’s progress by obscuring veins. Perhaps it was the light that pushed me to mistake you for someone beyond a stranger’s help. It wasn’t until the deafening white noise of the Airblade™ cut out, just as I was leaving, that i heard your broken voice responding to the toilet guardian approaching you – something about it all being a bit embarassing.

(Your voice remains with me and I wonder why I didn’t help you. I’m thinking maybe the picture of what I saw somehow obliterated the moment I was in, while I was in it. That my awareness of looking at a powerful / compelling image meant the actual moment itself was able to be displaced and vacated.
An invitation to myself, to swap compassion for irony; gratefully accepted.
So that I should no longer be there, but somewhere in the future instead, sharing the moment in conversations, or online.
Certainly not there for you.
Not there but here.
What can I do for you from here?
Not much. Too far away, too late to be useful. I can’t say that actually there’s no need to be embarassed. I can’t offer to go out and spend £3 on a pair of trousers from the Primark next door. I can’t simply make any fucking gesture at all of assistance, solidarity or tenderness and then just see how things go. All I can do is sit here in a bloodless online future, sharing regret and trying to forget about it, until an enthusastic algorithm pops up to remind me about it again three years later.)

Image

Mars hi-res

Image

A car crashed into the second story of a building in Santa Ana, California, this morning

Plastic in the Arts Isn’t Normal – First steps…

Friends and colleagues in the performance / touring world – please read and share this if you have a moment.

Following the logic, or the spirit, of not-doing-nothing-cos-you-can’t-solve-everything, I’ve decided to try and launch a “campaign of encouragement” with the aim of reducing the use of plastic in arts festivals (bottles, cutlery, packaging) and normalise the idea of avoiding its use.
Why? Because the global situation now is so obscene, and so critical (see link below for a start) that every time I’m at a festival and there are plastic plates for lunch or plastic water bottles at a conference (etc), I’m overwhelmed by a feeling of terrible dissonance or hypocrisy, and i guess i’m not alone. The arts are so often touted as ‘factories of possibilities’, coproducing and presenting work which tries to imagine alternatives, or at least exposing problems… and this one (unlike for example air travel) is not even that hard to solve.
We know this, because some festivals and organisations out there have already figured it out, so I wanted to start with pooling those positives, to be able to articulate solutions, not just lay down a challenge. Two questions –
a. do you know, or are you, an organisation who has an effective no-plastic policy, or is trying?
b. what are the steps taken which worked / didn’t work / continue to cause problems?
c. are there any existing campaigns that I could help with and which would render this unnecessary? (please say yes…)
I have a few ideas, but as a dilettante in the art of campaigning I’d welcome any suggestions for how to go about this with care and understanding as well as effectiveness
with thanks and hope,
Ant
ps. apologies to Jacques Rancière for the image

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/28/a-million-a-minute-worlds-plastic-bottle-binge-as-dangerous-as-climate-change

Innumerable

The other day I was thinking about the terrible Beslan Massacre which happened on my birthday 1 Sep some years ago. And then, about how commemorations of catastrophe are usually measured in years (10 years since 9/11 etc). I wondered if matters of human pain or anguish wouldn’t be better considered in terms of hours, if not minutes and seconds. There’s a website where you can put in a date and get how many hours have passed – it turns out that Beslan happened 100 thousand hours ago, today. But now that I have this round number in front of me, I’m not sure what to do with it.

the Extra People in America

here’s an email I sent to my contacts in the States prior to the upcoming mini-tour and premiere

dear friends in NYC, Philly and beyond,
I’m coming over with a big new thing called The Extra People, which I’d love to share with you. I don’t think i’ve ever worked for so long on something – it’s been a long journey. And yet despite that, due to the nature of the project, crazy thing is it’s also one of the first truly experimental works i’ve made. I like to think that we do our experiments before we present the work and that the tag doesn’t really apply for the most part – but now, with 30 people at any one time all listening to binaural audio compositions together in sync… and in overlapping cycles for anything up to 6 hours… well we’ve done as many trial sessions as those kind of numbers allow, but the final piece has evolved beyond the last one, so we’re coming with truly new material. But, i’m in luck – we premiere at EMPAC which means EXPERIMENTAL Media and Perfoming Arts Centre. And beyond that, I’m quietly confident that this ship will sail rather beautifully. So join us upstate, or in Philly (at the huge Merriam theatre), or finally at FIAF in NYC, and be part of something which for sure will be memorable – even if the experience aims more for oblivion…

I’m so lucky to have shown a lot of work in the States over these last years. Many of you have shared my different forrays (with different collaborators) into live performance which is also automatic, and unpeopled beyond an unrehearsed audience. After the early shows with curated guest performers – from BLOKE (1999) to Doublethink (2004) – things took a turn for the micro, and for several years my work was better known for its intimate and reciprocal nature (Etiquette, GuruGuru, Cue China, The Quiet Volume).

The Extra People brings you back to the theatre building and its scale, but the system (a synthesized child’s voice) seems not to know what a theatre is, or what it’s for. We don’t use the building’s lights or sound – it’s all in the headphones, and in your hands (powerful LED flashlights). You’re given a high-visibility vest, and you’re cast as an Extra. But for what?

The overal picture is out of your reach: too big, beyond your comprehension or simply not your job to know. With hints of today’s fast-developing “voice-directed” warehouse management systems, the child / system leads you through the cracked dreams of today’s temporary, ‘flexible’, high-viz and debt-ridden worker. Highly realistic binaural recordings lend this stark zone, somewhere between Beckett and Ballard, a hallucinatory edge: an audio landscape so real and complete that at times you may mistrust your eyes. Public-private divisions are also messed with: the voice reverberates off the walls of the auditorium – and yet not-one else can hear it.

In a challenge to the assumption (often taken for granted) that collectivity is what you find in the theatre, the building here reflects society rather differently, with its audience situated as atomised individuals adrift or even asleep among both seating and stage; plugged into their own audio streams, patiently awaiting their call, and eventually acting upon it. And all the while the fabric of their realities disintegrates until the proceedings on stage resemble, from within, a looping, dementia-ridden process, where roles of attendant and dependent rise to the surface, before switching as easily as the flashlights changing hands. An initial sense of exposure is slowly overcome by one of oblivion until the memory of what it was like to sit quietly with critical distance seems as far away as the seats – somewhere out there in the dark.

____

That’s the pitch.

One final thought – in going over the shows i’ve presented over the years in New York, one was left out – Five in the Morning. Jason Zinoman totally got what it was about, writing in NY Times here. Somehow i found myself going back to this work a lot during the writing for the Extra People. Those of you who remember it at PS122 may enjoy some echos this time.

The dates and links are below. If you’d like a little more info there’s some here on my website
http://www.anthampton.com/Extra_People.html
and a nice interview here where I expand a little on the thinking behind it
http://fringearts.com/2015/07/21/ant-hampton-talks/

I hope to see you soon

best,

Ant

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September 10 > EMPAC, Troy, NY, USA
September 17 – 18 > FringeArts, Philadelphia, USA
September 25 – 26 > Crossing the Line, NYC, USA

The Extra People

written and directed by Ant Hampton

sound design and composition – Sam Britton

artistic advice – Kate McIntosh

editing / system design / tech director – Hugh Roche Kelly

early development / brainstorming at Empac – Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford

assistance at Empac – Julia Asharaf

commissioned by Ash Bulayev / Empac

Creative producer – Katja Timmerberg

Extra People was commissioned by EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA)

with coproduction from Kaaitheater (Brussels) and Malta Festival (Posnan)

supported by the Culture Program of the European Commission via the House on Fire network, French Institute Alliance Française (NYC), Kingsfountain (Paris)

Thanks to Vallejo Gantner, Britt Hatzius, Matthieu Goeury / Vooruit, Edmund and Tina Manwarren Roche-Kelly and to the many volunteers who have helped with tryouts and development in Troy, Brussels and Gent.

Special thanks to Coda Cola, London, for generous studio support