Thursday, March 31, 2005

PSi #11 – Day 1

(Pre Day 1) I arrived in Providence, RI a day early to visit my friend Ben Russel (SAIC alum and filmmaker) and quickly realized this small town is a strange little place. Like the other small towns with scenes, this place has an active music scene and a couple colleges (Brown and RISD). There is also a good deal of very wealthy folks too which sets up the fundamental social segregation here (not so much race stuff, or country/city divides just educated white folk with radically different amounts of cash). Went to a bar and met a couple Asian folks who contract from the government to produce purple hearts and other medals. I could not get a purple heart for my visit to Providence. It also turned out that the girl’s boyfriend friend’s father owns Metro Vivid (the porn mongers) and had all these stories about porn/sex parties they go to in NYC. Ben is set for the next trip.

PSi #11, Day 1. Registration day. You can walk this town in 20 minutes. I got registered and filmed Deva Eveland doing his performance at the registration table. He was having some problems because his whole thing was to be this voiceless armless rather helpless guy with a pen in his mouth who would help people make name tags, but the organizers decided to create a name tag making station away from the sign up desk at the last minute and then spent the entire day pointing arrivals away from Deva. He is going to make adjustments to try to get more interaction today. I imagine there will be more arrivals today as well.

What is performance studies? I only started looking into this stuff a year or two ago. It is an academic discipline within cultural studies that looks at how things are performed rather than what they are…if I can make such a broad statement about a group of academics that pride themselves on always changing and adapting. The field investigates actual performance art mediums in various ways as well as social rituals, unplanned performances (say trying to get out of a traffic ticket) and everyday activities. The great thing about this conference is who open they are to the praxis of having workshops you can sweat in along with panel discussions along with formal and informal performances from many disciplines.

The theme this year is “Becoming Uncomfortable”. On day one we all went to a banquet which included performer hosts and waiter who made us haggle for the silverware on our table using “bush million dollar bills” we where given at arrival. The divided us up to sit at tables based on staple foods we picked we arrived (I was at the cheese table. Picked cheese cause it makes me really sick…like curl up in a ball for 6-10 hours sick.) My table was fun and was made up of several of the conference presenters. Everyone seemed open to playing along with the games. The concept of the event wasn’t so effective but there was lots goin on, we ate frogs legs and smelt, and I wore a party hat for 4 million dollars.

I perhaps wisely stopped at one of the corner dunkin donuts (which spot Providence in abundance for some reason) and ate before I went when I started to realize this was going to be a performance event. It turned out to be patty-cake but you can end up unsatisfied at these things. See the Futurist cookbook.

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