Yesterday was the day of the final crit for our last set project. It was again a very rich and diverse crit as everyone explored a different route and context. While I had struggled to print the pages this morning as uni’s printserver was offline just yesterday so I wasn’t able to put credit on my account and my printer obviously ran out of ink in the middle of the printing process, I managed to print it during lunch time. I borrowed a camera in order to be able to record and look back at the action from an outside, calm point of view.
When it was my turn (I had waited for the end of the day so that not many crits would still be going on around the studios), a few people had already left the crit. I presented my mixed recording to the group, however as I hadn’t exported the mix in a loud volume, the yelling didn’t come through enough.
I then spread out the pages with different paragraphs onto the table and asked people to choose one or two that they could relate to (even though there were also a few that just searched for the shortest on the table). Being a very quiet person and private in larger groups, shouting/yelling is something unexpected coming from me for other people (or so it seems), which is why I took this challenge in the first place, in comparison to ‘this needs to be yelled out’ as comments onto my text in the interim crit. So when we left the studios to go and shout the manifesto out into the building (there were still too many people that could be disrupted by the performance), I had to go first and yell the first paragraph. It is my manifesto after all. Once on the middle bridge in front of the graphic design studios, I took a deep breath and yelled my paragraph out. Then everyone slowly followed and it all merged together into a big mess of yelling rather than an organised linear presentation. Instead of focussing on the content, most of them were more concerned in projecting their voice and being embarrassed (there was a lot of laughing and gathering inside the group instead of going around) than what they were shouting. Looking back, I should have had a more precise plan about how this was going to work.
What Paulus said to me on the way back is what stuck with me the most: he had a very awkward feeling of not knowing what just happened, and not a good feeling of yelling it into the world. A lot of the students didn’t remember their yelled content and the action gained a higher impact. This performance now makes me think back to my Music perception brief that I did last year, in which most people didn’t react to the music at all and it is similar to what happened during the crit. Due to a lack of knowledge of the content (being it text or music), most of the participants did not react to the content/happening but stayed focussed on their own behaviour (or the absence of it for the music brief). While this allowed for surprise elements in the music brief, it turned into awkward behaviour in the performance. As Gilad said at the end of the crit: ‘It is your manifesto, not ours.’
Here are a few screenshots of the video I took:
I have to say that I am really happy though about how much everyone participated and that everyone yelled as well, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do this. So after we went back to the studio table, there was a very lively and contradictory conversation about what just happened. What was mostly recognised was the opposition of the nearly fascist format of yelling with a very liberal content that is trying to be helpful, turning the recording as well as the performance into a weird intriguing project of contradictions which I myself did not see from the inside of the project. It shows a personal struggle between trying to express myself and make myself heard by being helpful, although it almost seems forced (onto me and/or onto the user. The aggressiveness of the yelling is confusing for the listener as well as the (outside, not me) yeller, because it is unclear if someone is being yelled at in a positive or negative way. It is only once you listen to the yelling that you can make out that it is meant to be positive. (I sort of feel like this project is turning too much into a search of myself but I guess it is part of the process of finding your practice and aim). For the group there seemed to be a lack of aim, which Gilad also noted as my weak point, while I don’t know if it is just because I am not able to express myself in the right way (again). He then brought up the concerns I have with not wanting to produce something that is nice to look at, something that we discussed together on a busride a few weeks ago. It has to do with the fact that I get really annoyed when someone looks at one of my projects and then solely discusses the looks of it. The looks of my designs is not what I have in my first aim of design, however it is easier to say that something looks appealing (or not) and to ignore the concept behind it. Nonetheless I somehow can’t help myself to try and make something look appealing (I am a designer after all) even in this project as I feel that it is still missing a visual part as I wasn’t able to motivate a real protest. It was also mentioned how apparently my project was probably ‘so CSM’ due to its contradiction part (which, for me, means cliché, so not that great).
So we finished the crit with the conclusion that I have to find and decide what it is that I want to say with this rather than just contradicting or intriguing.
There was a proposition of me doing a manifesto choir rather than single sung/yelled versions in which some people of the group would also participate voluntarily. I am curious to see how it would sound/look/seem like if I let people choose paragraphs that they agree on to shout together and how there would be different variations in tone and volume depending on how many people agree with the paragraphs as it would also reflect the relevance (or non–relevance) of my manifesto. But for now I have to stop trying other different things out and reflect on my work.