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Maps, Tours and Empty Squares

– A phenomenology of Faceless Arts' Empty Square Outdoor Community Arts Project

bev adams

on 27 February 2015

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Transcript of Maps, Tours and Empty Squares

A phenomenology of Faceless Arts'
"Empty Square on the M62"
an example of Touring Outdoor Community Performance Practice

De Certeau, M. (1985) “Practices of Space”, in On Signs, Blonsky. M. (ed), Oxford, Basil Blackwell

Eldon, S (2001) Mapping the Present Heidegger, Foucault and the project of Spatial History, London, Continuum

Fenemore, A, 2013, The Map and the Tour (De Certeau), MA PCC handout

Ingold, T (2010) Ways of mind-walking: Reading, Writing, Painting. Visual Studies in Art. 25. Vol 1

Jellicoe, A (1987) Community Plays and how to put them on, London, Methuen

Kandinsky, W (1982) Complete Writings on Art. Vol 1 (1901-1921) and 2 (1922-1943), edited by K. C. Linsay and P. Vergo, London, Faber and Faber

To map is to chart a landscape, in its broadest sense, at a particular moment in time, through a process of observation, measurement and documentation.
Appropriation of the topographical system
Faceless Arts' "Empty Square on the M62" project was inspired by the only known featureless square on the Landranger series of audience survey maps.

Taking this premise as inspiration and acknowledging the highly visual man made topographies that dwarf the identities of M62 communities, the performance set out to show that Empty Squares are seldom devoid of interest and the hidden M62 communities less so.

Maps, squares, geometric shapes, topography, were "appropriated" as inspiration, scenography and content in the creation of the "Follow the Diversion performance" and the greater Empty Square project

- Programme as OS map
- Geometric building block set
- Commuter given blank map by road worker in the
beginning of the performance
- square metre silk paintings used in performance and left with communities
- Commuter handed an up-scaled OS map containing all 4 silk paintings at
the end of the performance
A spatial acting out of place
The building block set, allowed participants to "play build" to "act out" the spaces and locations in their communities in which the stories were set.

The topography of each community was recreated in performance in front of the audience, thereby providing historical context and setting for the experiential journey of story telling.

Where possible on tour, performances took place in situ, or in close proximity to the locations of the stories

The philosophical concepts of Being, Time and Space, are both vast and fundamental warranting further investigation in light of community outdoor performance.

An understanding of the Heidegerrian notion of Dasein (Being There or Being Present) has profound potential as a lens through which to further analyse performance, performativity and audience relationships.

Street Theatre/Outdoor Performance is constantly creating "authentic moments" of aesthetic conviviality, allowing communities to see their places afresh whilst defining and re-defining public and community spaces as spaces for social and cultural gathering.

Shared storytelling has the potential to contribute to Spatial History and the future narratives of a community by bringing the past into the present.
Phenomenology is "the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience" OED

TOURS - Being There
Touring, as well as the creation and performance of devised work,, is about being there and being present. It is about sharing stories and participating in collective experiences,. It is a phenomenological journey for creators, participants, audiences
Vision/Future Maps
Anna Fenemore, in her presentation to PCC, described a map as "pictorial field - the visual ordering of elements according to relationships of coexistence"
Mappa Mundi
"the map was arrived at not by any process of observation and measurement, but through a visionary experience of revelation... Rather than surveying the opaque outer surfaces of the world, the visionary [the medieval monk and the reader] ....would see into it..
a model for (not of) the phenomenal world, the purpose of which was not so much descriptive as prescriptive"
Ingold, 2010, p18
Every phenomenon can be experienced in two ways . . . External – Internal’. One can look at it as if through a pane, or one can plunge into it, become an active part of
it, and ‘experience its pulsation with all our senses’
(Kandinsky, 1982, p532).

Some common Maps
Wakefield Tourist Map
Spider diagram
Arts Council
Ontology: is the exploration of the nature of being and can be traced back to Ancient Greek philosopher - Parminides
Edmund Husserl, often cited as the father of phenomenology, argued that experience is the font of all knowledge
Through the notion of "Dasein" - "being there" or "being present" - Marin Heidegger thus spatialised and temporalised Husserlian phenomenology
"Being there" and "being present" forms both the form and content of Faceless Arts'' Empty Square on the M62 project and in particular, the "Follow the Diversion" performance. Dasein is both the map and the tour.
De Certeau, in “Walking in the City”, states that pedestrianism has a “triple enunciative function: it is a process of appropriation of the topographical system …; it is a spatial acting-out of the place…; and it implies relations among different positions” A p97/98
Memories give a neighbourhood its character

Types of Maps
Mapping out Faceless Arts' Empty Square project
Plotting the territory of Faceless Arts' work
Explore theoretical, philosophical contexts of phenomenology and ontology
Re-visit the project though the lens of 3 phenomenological paradigms
E2 Project Overview
A mini outdoor event for 4 communities and 2 cultural venues along the M62
Working with=communities and their stories the project aimed to ...
Help redefine outdoor, underused public spaces in communities as places for social gathering and cultural activity
Provide high quality, relevant and accessible performances for audiences that are least engaged with the arts
Seed new community gatherings (where they do not exist) and develop a sustainable outdoor community arts circuit in the West and East Ridings of Yorkshire.
Family Arts Activities in Space to Create
Heron - walkabout street performance
Follow the Diversion - community devised outdoor performance
Follow the Diversion Performance Programme
is a new outdoor performance created from the stories of the cast, and the shared reminiscences of older people, about their communities of Knottingley, Ferrybridge, Pollington & Snaith.

Follow the Diversion uses the metaphor of children’s play to explore poignant memories, community identity and the importance of taking the time to stop and see what may be around you.

1. Prologue – Diversion ahead
2. The towns of Knottingley, Ferrybridge, Pollington & Snaith
3. A stranger arrives
4. Kick the can – a game played by children of yester-year
5. Pea pulling
6. Market town – Town Lockup
7. Glassblowing - Glass industry
8. Fire fighters
9. War time - plane crash
10. Bench wars
11. Jubilee and other celebrations
12. Goodbyes
13. Diversion ends


Bev Adams, Simone Lewis & Deborah Sanderson
Mapping Faceless Arts' performing territory
A hybrid of street performance,
community theatre and applied theatre
(closest contemporary practitioners =
National Theatre of Wales)
The Dreaming - Yolngu
"Yolngu paintings are maps, but only on condition that the map is understood in its original, pre-cartographic sense – that is, as an instrument for revealing the inner reality of the world, and not as a representation of its outer surface."
Ingold,T, 2010, Visual Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1, p.20

Process of creating outdoor community performance - A potential replicable model
Each communities' stories were re-interpreted into communally painted silk paintings
Pre-devised frame - story
& Tour
Play as devising tool and
metaphor for performance

Countering the ephemeral nature of street performance
Visual, non-verbal story telling,
street theatre style
using the familiarity and accessibility
of childrens play

Aesthetic scenographic decisions taken in advance
Content based on stories
of People, Space & Place
Dissemination of performative and ensemble skills
To argue that to research and re-present stories of people and place through performance and tour is akin to bringing the past into the present thereby taking a practice -led phenomenological approach to spatial history..
Faceless Arts'' Outdoor Community Arts projects are practice-led phenomenological approaches to "Mapping the Present"
where "the dimensions of past, present and future [come] together, in terms of the authentic moment." Stuart Elden, 2001 p14,
Natural Theatre
Theatre Titanik
Meyerhold & Biomechanics
Studies iinto Biomechanics with Gennadi Bogdanov at Gitis Academy in Moscow 1998
Welfare State International 1965-2000,
Bread and Puppet Theatre 1970's to present
Anne Jellicoe 1980's
Ensemble and
Intercultural Performance
Peter Brook and Eugenio Barba
1970's to present day
Commedia Dell 'Arte
Circa 1600
Faceless Arts founded in 1990 by appropriating the Lazzi, comic business element of Commedia Dell 'Arte as street theatre aiming to work visually and non-verbally to bridge age, culture and language barriers
Greek Tragedy
Aristophanes Circa 400BC
Commedia Dell' Arte
Trestle Theatre 1990's
Mummenschanz 1990's
Mumenschantz, Horse and Bamboo,
Sarruga and Royale De Lux
Street Theatre/
Outdoor Arts
Puppetry & Object Manipulation
Where De Certeau fears stories are becoming "private and sink(ing) into the secluded spaces" p108, Faceless Arts strives to make stories public and accessible.

By providing a poignant theatrical experience, sometimes in the exact locale where the stories took place, the production has contributed to the fabric of these spaces,.

The project has brought the past into the present and laid foundations for the future uses of these outdoor public spaces as places for social and cultural gathering

Processes for creating an outdoor community performance as model for future development
Work with John Wright., Told by an Idiot and Trestle and work on Clown and Le Jeu influenced by Sue Morrison, LeCoq & Gaulier
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