Week 4 Observations and thoughts...
I had heard of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, but had not seen the play or read the book. The short video produced by the National Theater piqued my interest in learning more. The video illustrates the way technology could effectively be used to represent Christopher’s sensory overload and confusion (and was easily relatable whether on the spectrum or not). It also showed how everyone involved was immersing themselves in Christopher’s world and working feeling what he felt, physically and emotionally. It was intriguing to watch how the cast used physical movement in their rehearsal. I was not able to find a full production by the National Theater to watch, so I watched a video of a student production to be able to see the whole play. Of course this did not use the sophisticated technology that the National Theater used, but at least I could know the whole story.
The play made me ache for Christopher, his mother and his father. If you have ever been close to someone on the spectrum, the story was so true: what seemed so rational to Christopher could be so maddeningly frustrating to those around him. His father loved him, but was sometimes so angry at him. His mother loved him, but her coping mechanism was to run away.
The use of digital technology, light, color, sound, typography, movement, really captured what Christopher was experiencing when he went to the station, how the change of environment and routine can be so upsetting. In this situation, digital technology was used very effectively to let us feel something very human. I wish I had gotten to see this play on the stage, as this is a story that feels very close to my heart.
This week, I also dug into Digital Performance (Dixon) to begin to understand the history and theory behind digital performance. Never before having heard about MUDs or MOOs, I learned about their darker sides. (Not even sure if these formats still exists?) As with any book about a subject that changes so rapidly, some of the content seems dated, but overall gives an overview of both technology and content of digital works. I found the debate on the ideas of Lev Manovich interesting. Dixon states, “[Manovich] suggests that the greatest artists of today are the computer scientists and the greatest artworks are the new technologies themselves.” (p.5)
Dixon goes on to argue that this view “fetishizes the technology without regard for artistic vision and content.” I think about architecture school: for the first two years, we students were not allowed to use digital technology. All projects were hand drawn and physical models built by hand. The professors made a case for presenting substantial, quality architectural design, not “eye-candy.” It can be very easy to slip in being seduced by technology and lose the vision and intention. Or, technology can be used with intention, to work with and shape a vision. This is what we see happening in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - working on the spectrum
The Yarm School- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
Dixon, S. Digital Performance, MIT Press, 2007