Tag Archives: James Baker

Artes Mundi Response Timii (The correct plural of Time) by James Baker

James BakerFor those of you that don’t know what a Response Time is: Sandra Bendelow marshals a group of writers, artists and performers, takes them to a gallery space, and gives them 48 hours to make some performances in response to the Art in the Gallery (or the Gallery itself and its environment,) which are performed to a public audience at the end of the time. It’s crazy.

In October and December, Artes Mundi invited us to create responses to two of its locations (The National Museum in October and the ffotogallery in December).

These were the 8th and 10th Response Time events, and the 7th and 8th ones I attended, but they marked a new and exciting phase for the project, and weren’t like anything that came before it. At least in terms of logistics. Normally the events take place in Aberystwyth, with all the participants being more or less local, but these involved trekking down to a CITY. A CITY. And staying there for the duration of the process. It was definitely a bizarre experience, not being able to go home, but it was heart-warming to discover I can maintain a happy, homey, procrastination schedule even in the most unusual of conditions. Home is where you have a corner with a plug socket and a wifi connection.

The first event, in the National Museum was the biggest change, the space was vast and… Cold, I guess? Partly that’s down to the sheer size of it (The Gas Gallery, our usual home, could have fit inside it many times over,) and partly the clean and clinical nature of a big, modern art gallery. Lots of big open spaces and clean white walls. It’s hard to say if the work itself was more… cool and alienating than I’m used to working with, or if it was just the space that gave that impression. This had a noticeable effect on, if not my actual process of creation, then the mood of it; usually we’re all working together in a small space, able to observe and chat, but here we could each work individually, undisturbed for long periods.

The second space, the ffotogallery in Penarth, was much more like home, and I settled in to it immediately. A lovely, small space.

Response Time: Open Space. Image by Keith Morris

Response Time: Open Space. Image by Keith Morris

The two processes and performances ended up being fairly radically different. The first was a large group of us (9), responding to lots of different pieces, and taking the audience on a hefty journey around the space, which led to a very choppy sort of thing. It was difficult to achieve a real sense of flow (I didn’t envy Sandra’s Job of jigsawing our work together into a whole. At all.) While the second was a small group (6 of us), responding to 4 artworks, by 2 artists, in 3 rooms, and ended up really cohering, despite the various differences in performance tone, style and energy.

I think overall, I preferred the second event, even though the piece I produced at the first one is one of my favourite performances I’ve created, and the piece I made at the second is the first time I’ve really felt like I needed extra time… I just needed another day to really work out what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.

If you’re a playwright, a poet, a prose writer (can we start calling them “prosers”?), an actor, a dancer, a musician, an artist, a photographer, a documentarian, a film maker, a… sculptor(?), whatever… I cannot recommend getting in touch with Sandra at Scriptography Productions and enquiring about getting involved with one of these things in future. Response time has radically developed my creative practice. There is nothing I’ve found to equal that buzz of adrenaline in going from a standing start to performing to an audience in 48 hours. Being unable to prepare, having to rely on inspiration, or an approximation thereof, and throwing caution to the wind, throwing out perfectionism, and just MAKING ART is an amazing experience, and I’ve been able to take those new styles and practices into my life in general.

You can follow James Baker
Website http://JamesBakerPerforms.weebly.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Baker-Performance-Maker/627317057395999
Twitter  @James_Baker

@chaos

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Response Time: Transitions – introducing the responders James Baker

James Baker WJames Baker is a Writer and Performer, currently studying his second year of a Performing Arts BTEC at Coleg Ceredigion and writing his first full-length play.

He’s fascinated by how we narrativise our lives, the Stories and Lies we tell ourselves and each other to make life liveable, and he hopes the human condition of endemic self-deception is a long-lived one as he finds it quite useful for getting to sleep at night.

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Performances of Response Time: Transitions are Sunday 27th October 5.30PM, 7PM and 8.30PM at the Gas Gallery, Aberystwyth, Park Avenue.
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Pilot Light – a response

Branwen Davies performing her response to the work of Sandra Masterson

Branwen Davies performing her response to the work of Sandra Masterson

After a little time to reflect on the pilot  of the Response Time performed response to
art, space and environment it’s time to think
about what worked well, what could have worked better and how to make things
even more interesting for the next one scheduled to take place 25th – 27th October.

One thing that most certainly emerged was a supportive, collaborative and friendship forming environment. With all participants enjoying their experience and being inspired to produce work.

As we’ve chosen to make this an on-going project responding to each exhibition at the Gas Gallery time constraints for organisation will always be a factor but also a benefit as it serves the nature of the project as it really is a case of seeing who gets involved and then throwing them together to see what emerges.

A few things took us by surprise, the changing light of each performance resulted in changes in the performance with shadows and darkness impacting the space and performers. Tashina Keller’s movement piece became a dance with paintings and shadows by the final show.

Every performance was completely different even without the changing light which is inevitable from performance shared with an audience after such a short time in development.

Hayley Addis asked the audience to look through the windows of the art

Hayley Addis asked the audience to look through the windows of the art

Many of the performances called for interaction from the audience and so the audience changes also impacted. James Baker asked the audience to spit into his
bowl. Hayley Addis asked for the audience
to make sounds which resonated and impacted through the upstairs gallery.
Vivian C. Ezugha asked the audience to
go outside onto the pavement and watch through a window. Branwen Davies asked the audience to choose from 1-12 to select which pieces would be performed, even through a rehearsal and three performances 4 and 10 were never chosen.

There was much within the space we could have made more of and no doubt will do in future projects. People wandering by throughout the performances and peering in became part of the performances and random comments from passers by were calling out to be part of future projects.

At such an early stage of the development of the project we’re unsure the role of digital recording and simply plan to continue to do this until it becomes clearer how it can be integrated into the live performance or become part of something bigger, beyond the 48 hour installations of performance.

It will be interesting to see how much the changing nature of the art impacts on the responses creating difference is how the performance makers respond to the space and environment.

We have to allow the project to evolve and change as it needs to and to help this we will being in guest curators whose job it will be to nurture the weekend’s performances and steer them towards presentation to an audience.

It is also inevitable that we think of moving some of the pieces forward to see how they can develop alone without the art, space and environment to support them or how we can take the art, space and environment elsewhere through digital mediums.

One piece by Hannah Mann, Ruth Hogg and Gareth Williams was presented entirely digitally without any live-performance and yet perfectly reflected the whole project by containing elements of performance process and responding to both exhibitions.

There are endless possibilities for Response Time and while we ponder those we’ll continue to play.

Footage, images and recordings of the weekend are available now and we will continue to post more as we edit and upload including a filmed interview with Aislinn Knight talking about her work.

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https://vimeo.com/scriptographyproductions/videos