Not to give away too much, but The Satellite Collective is beginning to wiggle its fingers again. A new piece is in the works. To get the juices flowing, Kevin Draper sent out an email to the core creative team with initial ideas. The theme would be “Time Machine,” and all sorts of media would be represented as Satellite Collective always does. After a few glowing responses, I decided to chime in. Here’s what I wrote:
Re: some ideas to stir up inspiration
Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 6:03 PM
I want to put in my two cents:
One of the most difficult things to get right in a performance of this kind is striking the right balance between all the different media. Spoken word, dance, opera, music, moving images… these all have their own strengths and limitations. How to have them co-exist in a performance piece without overcrowding?
Most of Satellite Collective’s works have deliberately separated different pieces in different media into a kind of medley, which are presented in sequence. This is a distinctly different approach than trying to create a fully immersive multimedia thing. Opera is closer to the latter, but for the fact that it’s bogged down by the proscenium. You could make an argument for both with the Time Machine theme: it supports the deliberate sequence because that’s how we experience events in time (which you can reshuffle to some cool effect), but it also supports multimedia because a Time Machine is a fascinating, fantastical, complex piece of machinery, with millions of parts working simultaneously in order to transport someone to a different place. Whichever direction it ends up taking, I think it’s best to be deliberately one or the other. A performance that lands in neither/nor might sacrifice pacing or fail to hold the audience’s attention or fail to carry a single idea throughout– ie the intangible stuff that is the true magic of performance.
I hope this makes sense.
BTW, walking back my own words somewhat, I like the idea that our image of what a Time Machine is has itself changed over time. It has gone quite a way from HG Wells to the Twin Paradox. I remember I saw William Kentridge’s Refuse The Hour at BAM a couple of years ago, and he has a monologue where he explains that if a single photon can be considered a snapshot of the thing that emitted it, then we have been broadcasting snapshots of ourselves out into space since the dawn of time. If you could go out and catch each of those photons discretely, you could piece together the film of humankind.
Whether or not that makes sense to anyone, I highly recommend watching this video of highlights from the show. A lot of Satellite parallels.
-Ivan Himanen, RA
No one has responded to the thread since.