The "Stage" Project
Wed. 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
For a twelve hour period I located myself atop a "stage" in the Main Gallery at Calarts so as to provide myself a day dedicated to thought. The Stage Project was a work developed by Mike H.J. Chang who was taking part in a mid-residency show for MFA2 students in the Art and Photo Programs. The project consisted of the artist providing a 4x8 foot sheet of MDF raised roughly eighteen inches off the floor by a support structure made with 2x2 inch posts. Prior to the exhibition an open call was made for proposals. The set parameters were that an individual could engage in any way he/she saw fit with the platform if appointment was made with the artist. Upon first learning of the open call and being encouraged by a peer I decided to develop a proposal of engagement. It soon occurred to me that the development of a proposal carries the weight of the conception. I did not, at that time, know the specific construction of the platform but found out that the intended location would be centered along the long wall in the gallery. The openness of possible engagement seemed equivalent to the openness of the call for projects. I resolved this dilemma in providing a project that proposed to focus on this expanse of possibility, as I was able to conceive it. In feeling I had inadequate information of what the platform was to be, I decided to turn attention and a day's time to it, granting myself the opportunity to think through a more appropriate proposal for it. Put simply, I proposed to spend a half day, twelve hours, considering what I might do with this object by isolating myself, my movements, and my thoughts on/to it.
One of the first questions posed was, "what does this space provide contextually to its surroundings?" A following question was, "how might I describe this space and how it is used?" Through investigating questions such as these the opportunity to access further considerations began presenting itself. Through these a beginning was enabled to then follow what arrangements or impacts might occur if this or that hypothetical proposal were continued outward.
E.g. If I cut the structure in two, should I be left with two equivalent halves? And if I stacked these halves? Or separated them by the width of the gallery?
The structure provided me with the room and space to think and in this a performative act established itself during the twelve hours involving a set of movements and pacing as observed by others to be commonplace to my character in class and around campus at the time. For the year prior, I had been confronted on multiple occasions in critical forums and in casual passing, accused that the nature of these gestures was a part of a performance I was not willingly admitting to; on the contrary though, these gestures were habitual to my thinking process and were not meant to suggest a performance. Interacting with the platform constituted a response and an acknowledgment to these accusations and opened a space to question if perceptions of my "performance" differed between assertions made by the viewer and presentations made by the artist. If I was performing, as some had claimed, when standing in the gallery, what was I doing in occupying a space eighteen inches above it? While consciously focusing my attentions towards possibilities for the platform, I unconsciously engaged it as a stage for which the greater "stage project" was named. The 4x8 area coexisted in this sense as an arbitrary platform open to possibility -a stage which framed me and thusly the objected performer within it. Simultaneous to this coexistence of the object's use, thinking took on the dual role of existing both internally and externally.
No breaks of any kind were taken during the duration of this engagement with the platform-cum-stage. Efforts were made not to invite dialogue with anyone, but response was given to those who approached me. "What are you doing," was commonly asked. My reply was most often, "thinking". The complication of this "performance" took place at the moment when I realized the performance may very well have been taking place in my thinking it was taking place. In order to keep to the task and not become stuck in either not being able to continue to think or perform, I decidedly chose to ignore as best I could the qualities of my movements which might suggest a performer performing on stage. This very choice to disregard the very activity I was doing was plausible because the impending threat of stage fright existed in my own consideration of the thinking physicalized, which was impossible for me to fully perceive, objectively. Ignoring the performance in this sense enabled it to take place and become an unconscious yet intentional proposal and use for the platform.