Exercise 20: Exercises on Style – Sculpture on the Run

Director: Jon Mikel Euba

Venue: Galleries 3.1 and 3.2

After listening to Bach’s The Art of Fugue at a concert, Raymond Queneau became obsessed with the idea of variations tending to near infinity and decided to produce a set of exercises in writing. He first wrote 12 versions of the same anecdote told in different ways, then a further 12. Unable to get them published, he spent a few years adding variations, finally arriving at the figure of 99 versions of the same story. He considered that 99 were not too many, nor too few; not too serious nor too frivolous. His Exercises in Style were finally published in 1947.

The Art of Fugue (Die Kunst der Fuge), a piece of music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, was left unfinished at his death. Composed around the idea that it should provide a set of examples of the counterpoint technique, it included 14 fugues and four cannons, all built on the same theme. It was published with no indication regarding instruments or order, thus giving rise to a great many versions.

Gallery 3.1 at MUSAC shall hold a range of materials, all related to the project Condensed Velasquez. Some of these materials will be finished works, others educational media, materials for generating future works, etc. In total, around 20 independent elements shall share a single space. Taking them as elements for a possible syntax, the exercise director shall provide each participant (including directors) with different representations -images, lists, etc.- referred to each of these 20 elements. Each participant shall suggest, in project form, a new arrangement for the elements, applying simple patterns or guidelines in order to configure at least 18 different versions. Each of the versions suggested shall be analysed by the group and, over a day’s work, a given number of proposals shall be executed and documented as photographs, in a minimum of two and a maximum of six pictures.

The exercise attempts to tackle the issues of sculpture by applying estrangement techniques. It intends to generate the largest possible number of variations operating on a limited number of elements. When manipulating the elements, we shall apply a set of patterns derived from the piece Condensed Velasquez, as well as concepts borrowed from proxemics, such as: flight distance, critical distance, intimate distance, personal distance, social distance, public distance, etc. These patterns shall be applied in order to pre-empt what is often referred to as ‘imaginative thought’, introducing strategies where chance plays a significant role.

Exercise 19: Blind/Deaf/Mute

Director: Txomin Badiola

Special Invited: Pello Irazu.

Venue: Proforma Studio

It has been said that “Man does not think, he only speaks. But other men suspect he not only speaks, but also thinks; that is, it is possible that he may not believe what he is saying”.

The exercise consists in creating text material that articulates the staging of a dialogue between people whose abilities are limited by the conditions set forth in the exercise itself. Each of the 15 participants is given clippings of reviews (preferably bad ones) of the exercise director’s exhibitions. Divided into groups, the participants are asked to extract sentences that, in their view, are relevant in terms of implying a value judgement. Then they exchange their work and try to write the questions that the sentences could be an answer to. A total of 21 questions and 21 answers shall be printed on individual flash cards.

The group of volunteers is divided into two teams, one across from the other, holding the printed questions and answers, initiating a mute dialogue based on the exhibition of these flash cards. Certain limitations will lead to three different types of intervention in the dialogue.

X: keeping her eyes closed during the course of the exercise, is not aware of the questions or answers that she randomly presents.

Y: can only see the questions or answers of the person across from him but not his own.

Z: can choose her question or answer from those she is holding.

The action shall be recorded by three cameras that shoot close-ups without ever capturing the text. The visual dialogue will come from the facial expressions, which will be enhanced with the flashcard texts, added as subtitles in the postproduction phase.

Fotografias realizadas por: Pello Irazu.

Exercise 18: PROFORMA Studio

Director: Sergio Prego

Venue: Proforma Studio

The inflatable pneumatic structure PROFORMA Studio arises form a desire to preserve an environment by isolating it within a membrane. It is designed at a disproportionate scale with regards to the architecture. Its massive volume aims to provide a broad space for expansion focused towards the establishment of a working community, blocking out pre-existing architectural signs. PROFORMA Studio suggests an experience in occupying space, whilst this exercise suggests an experience in transiting and occupying space on that scale. What is specific to this exercise is the architectural dimensions inherent to the environment as a whole.

The exercise consists in a simultaneous transition along two lines – within and five metres above the pneumatic structure. The action shall be conditioned by a number of variables. The pneumatic structure’s height shall be adjusted in order to set it at varying distances from the hall’s ceiling in such a way that it forces the people in transit to alter the posture of their physical actions. Basic furniture such as chairs, tables or other objects may also be inserted between the inflatable and the ceiling.

Documenting the movement shall be an integral part of the experience. Participants shall initiate the process fully aware of the ways in which the experience is to be recorded. There shall be two perspectives: on the one hand, the entire process shall be documented as an event for the collective transformation of an environment, taking the action in its more global dimension and recording each and every activity conducive to the achievement of the exercise. On the other hand, there will be a focus on the movement, which shall be documented both by static elements and by the people who are simultaneously in transit within and above the inflatable structure. The relationship between the bodies and the inflatable’s mass and membrane will be very different within and above the structure. The exercise therefore aspires, in the editing process following the experience, for the similarities and differences between the different lines to establish subjective identities and projections between the actors. I addition, awareness of this dimension during the action itself is expected to direct participants’ gazes and condition their experience.

Projections and relationships between perceptions of the various actions shall establish forms of equivlance capable of generating a representation imbued with alegorical potential. This representation may bring about parallels in the recording that shall in turn generate echoes between past and present events; between what is happening in the present and traces of the past.

Exercise 17: Guided

Director: Jon Mikel Euba

Venue: Gallery 4.1

Building on exercise 9, Transcoding Re:horse, we will obtain a transcription of all the verbal information generated by the encounter between the performer, the silkscreened panels and an audience vested with a degree of participation in the action.

The exercise’s first aim will be to create a fully independent and freestanding body of text that may be activated by people other than the original performer. Guided is all about setting off these various modes.

In the course of the exercise we suggest putting the text to different uses:

Version one: one person learns the text by heart and recites it as if in a performance.

Version two: one person reads the text off a projection located behind the audience.

Version three: one person simply repeats what he or she is hearing through an earpiece.

We shall verify the varied implications of these different approaches and test their viability at two events in different countries that would in principle require a physical presence. Using the text obtained in Transcoding Re:horse, Proforma participants will execute an exercise based on producing at least three versions of the performance. They shall all take place consecutively and shall be fully recorded.

Exercise 16: MaquinaL (Family Plot)

Director: Txomin Badiola

Venue: Proforma Studio

When we hear of certain traumatic issues, painful circumstances, things that happened in a family that were never really resolved, and how they reappear over successive generations, completely unnoticed as if they were a genetic disease, it is hard to suppress a condescending smirk of scepticism. The concept of a genetic memory that affects behaviour beyond physiology or training is hard to swallow.

When a therapy like family constellations is developed, which attempts to cure current afflictions based on the assumption of the above, no one gives it the time of day.

Family constellations take on an individual problem in the form of a social representation, embodied in a group of strangers. It has to do with ritual, with channelling energies and states of tension that are released through an exceptional dramatisation based on spatial relations and formal configurations. Regardless of the lack of rigour of its theoretical basis, the shaping of a ritual through the assumption of symbolic positions within a performance has a certain value in of itself, on the level of both an individual and a collective experience.

The exercise strives to draw parallels between the legend of Laocoön and topics more closely related to private problems, using family constellation rituals conducted by a professional to attain a spatial-temporal representation of this connection. The legend can reveal archetypal elements (its players, actions, versions, authors, influences, texts, related literary works, sculptural works, etc.) and translate them into a sort of family story (parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, conflicts, secrets, betrayals, blame, sins, etc.). In order to do this, therapist Iam Agorria shall be the facilitator, working from the experimental perspective that the exercise requires.

All the volunteers are provided with a story and are asked to delve into themselves to find something that anchors this story to events in their own lives. This should culminate in a question or a request that involves themselves and the story provided. On the basis of these questions, successive constellations will be set into motion on each volunteer’s request. Each time a role is designated: father, mother, eldest son, youngest son, uncle, grandmother, etc., the participant in question will be the bearer of signs, texts and images, wearing them in such a way that they serve as vanishing lines for the constellation itself.

In this exercise, body dynamics are more important than content. The recording of the exercise will attempt to divert attention from the nature of the event, de-territorialising it, sending it into ambiguous places, toward spaces of crossed references; a world in suspension. The filming should never attempt to document a constellation, but rather to gather the images it generates. One camera shall focus its attention only on body-related microevents, another will focus on movements, and another (for example) on groupings. The aim of the recordings is to create material that is not immediately recognisable as coming from a family constellation.

Exercise 15: Lecture on Re:horse (debate)

Director: Jon Mikel Euba

Venue: Galleries 3.1 and 3.2 or auditorium.

Special Invited: Iñaki Garmendia

Special Volunteers: Julio Alonso Fernández, Julia Cubillo Piñán, Ana Cristina Vilda Díez y Jorge Luis Díaz González

Open to the public

This exercise intends to establish a group based on the participation of 10 to 15 volunteers in a real experience before an audience. It also intends to approach the issue of recording the performance. Though initially the group may seem to include only the volunteers executing the action, in its final stage the exercise aims to establish a larger constituency that includes both audience and performers.

At the outset, volunteers drawn from workshop participants and people from León selected for the event that speak two languages (Spanish and English) shall take their seats on stage while the audience fills the hall. The performers shall then start reading a text in English off a computer screen, translating it into Spanish as they go, one by one, while the rest wait their turn. The text in question arose from the need to break free from the idea of writing, and is therefore pure notation. It provides a template that only becomes consistent in the performative act of its translation. The text’s content suggests an introduction to the project Re:horse, later becoming a statement and a set of thoughts and considerations on the concept of creation. The text goes to nine pages, each repeated by different people in the course of the performance, which shall end with a fragment referring to two images projected in the hall.

All the action shall be recorded on video by two cameras following an established pattern. The video recording shall raise the issue of the counterpoint; the tension between “what” is to be recorded and “how” it should be recorded, to the point where the “how” may deny the “what”.

Once the performance ends, after the nine pages have been read, a debate will begin with a question being put to the audience. The ensuing debate will also be recorded.

Exercise 14: Blind Units

Director: Sergio Prego

Venue: Outdoor location

This exercise focuses on executing an action subject to a device geared towards causing a discontinuous distortion in the way the flow of time is recorded. The device is made up of a metronome and two scores of music that will provide a template for the recording and for the action itself.

One person walks as the metronome sets the rhythm of his or her steps at a moderate pace. The person shall execute varying frequencies in his or her walk following a sequence established in a score that progresses until it reaches an absurdly slow pace. The person shall attempt to keep the movement as uninterrupted as possible, shifting his or her weight from one leg to the other, in a way that may not be natural but is continuous. A handheld video camera shall record the action, moving around the figure with a swaying movement. This movement shall be determined by a second score, following a sequence connected to the metronome by a different pattern to that of the person walking. The aim of the camera’s movement is to obstruct the recording and layer a new frequency over the walking frequency.

Three teams of six people shall carry out three simultaneous and supposedly identical video recordings at different outdoor locations. The exercise intends to highlight the impossibility of predicting the outcome during the process, forcing the people involved to carry out their actions blindly.

Before a joint viewing, the material shall be manipulated in postproduction by compressing the speeds in order to adjust the tempos, trying to make the paces of the final movement as continuous as possible. In order to achieve this, the scores will serve as a template, and the dilation of time shall be inverted. The exercise will wrap up with a joint verification and comparison of the three working groups’ outcome on video.

Exercise 13: What the sign conceals

Director: Txomin Badiola

Venue: Gallery 2.1

Boris Groys states: “Each sign identifies something and refers to something. But at the same time, each sign also conceals something and of course does not —contrary to popular belief— hide the absence of the object identified, but simply a bit of mass media surface, the bit that that sign occupies in material and in media mass. So it goes that the sign overshadows the view of the underpinnings of the media it supports. That is why the real media truth of the sign is only visible when the sign is eliminated, allowing what is underneath to be visualised. Arriving at the sign’s mass media truth means suppressing that sign, removing it, erasing it —as if it were dirt— from the media surface”.

In relation to this issue, we have created works under the generic title What the sign conceals. These works are made up of two types of elements:

–          A previously existing sculptural construction whose supporting materials have been variously displaced, from the most virtual to the most massive. It went from the initial model to its physical construction, then photographed. The photograph was manipulated to obtain a graphic image. The image was interpreted into a plaster bas-relief that was then scanned three-dimensionally. After this operation, a massive wooden version was obtained through a mechanical process.

–          The second type of element is based on text. Sentences reflecting some degree of intensity were collected over the course of time and compiled in a list. The compilation was stopped at a certain point. From that moment on, the list was used to create 11 blocks of texts, arranged according to similarities in terms of intensity. Three have taken form in the material versions already produced and the rest will be produced through the participants’ bodies in the course of the exercise.

This exercise departs from the text blocks. Taken from abstract, numerical or geometrical schemes that assign certain forms to certain texts and certain times and spaces, we strive to attain a pattern that will allow the texts to become embodied as moving voices. 11 people will take part in the event. Each of them has learned a text by heart. These people will move within a special floor partition created specifically for the purpose, according to a number of self-generated guidelines (children’s games, board games). They shall recite their text as a mantra according to set guidelines and in varying degrees of voice intensity —a whisper or a shout— and speed of diction —fast or slow— depending on their position within the space. In addition to these people, camera operators as well as members of the audience can be included within the space.

The exercise strives to identify the moments when —despite the textual, spatial or human chaos going on— a form is produced, a sensation shines through, attempting to capture them on different media.

Exercise 12: Finite Questions (Backwards)

Director: Jon Mikel Euba

Venue: Proforma Studio

The project by the title of Re:horse intends to share processes, not forms. However, despite the apparent contradiction, it requires forms in order to generate those processes. These forms, acting as ingredients, recreate certain aspects of other forms previously generated by different people, blending and dissecting them in order to give rise to specific situations that in turn set off processes that may be ultimately productive.

Re:horse in English is pronounced re-horse, as two syllables. In Spanish, on the other hand, it is split into three: re-hor-se. In English we could say Re:horse is a performance derived from the welding of two elements: Warhol’s film Velvet underground and Nico and Beuys’ performance Titus/Ifigenia. In Spanish, by contrast, Re:horse is the outcome of blending three elements: the two mentioned above and Horse, also by Warhol. In this exercise we will analyse the information contained in three specific images that represent these three works. The idea is to use and optimise what we have: 18 people with their ability to ask questions. We shall attempt to connect all this within a structure vested with a degree of autonomy. Each of the images will be displayed in different representations: one as a print-out on paper on the scale of an image on the web; another projected on a human scale; another on a micro-scale; and another on a monumental scale.

Each participant must put a minimum of 10 questions to each of the images displayed – questions asked both of the image itself and of what is represented. All the questions shall be compiled and each person shall be recorded on video asking his or her questions. The others shall draw up a list where they shall strike out any question that is repeated. Though all questions will be recorded, not all of them will be admitted, since they must all meet a given criteria.

The exercise ultimately intends to establish a structure with the outcome of the process described above. It shall attempt to configure a form that includes not only the final outcome of the questions but also the three images they are put to.

Exercise 11: 12 Considerations on the artistic creation specified by the pusillanumous one in 5 days

Director: Txomin Badiola

Venue: Proforma Studio

Quotations have a dual structure; on the one hand, they involve an exercise of authority: that which is provided by the source, by its author’s degree of celebrity. On the other hand, they are acts of decontextualisation: the quote is detached from its discursive context and inserted into another. The original speaker undergoes a process of transmutation, an evident dissolution caused by the person who selects the quote. When it is extricated from the discourse that gave it meaning and inserted into another one, the quote is forced to adopt the meaning the second speaker wants it to have. It becomes a sort of ready-made in which the physical object is preserved but its recontextualisation turns it into a reference to something else.

This exercise is based on a text, entirely composed of quotes in which a character —the speaker— draws up a series of considerations about art that are contested by the weakling and expanded on by the amateur. The compendium of quotes that make up this text come from authors that could melt into one single voice —who’s voice?— Who speaks in that molten flux of seamless interrogation that is the text? Obviously it is me, the ‘author’ of this new form. But who is that me who is, nevertheless, unable to say anything on his own? In this context of deliberations, I think of going from the text to a more palpable reality, allowing the flow to continue. The transition from text to voice is like sound taking form but with its subjective baggage in tow.

Grouped into five teams of three people —the amateurs— each member shall rehearse different body poses, movements and activities. They shall be aided by the rest, being prodded to improve modulation, rhythm, tonal quality, etc. At a certain moment, three people shall be successively introduced into each group: the speaker, the weakling and a third person to record the sound. Through the body —the way it carries the performance, its inflections and modulations— then how the text passes from one body to another, the aim will be, at the end of the process, to bring about a shift in importance from the question “who is speaking?” to the very fact that somebody is ultimately speaking.