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The creations of our 2012-13 research plan that focused on creating a utopian approach to reality are developed on in multiple ways. This is one of them. On three February thursdays RRC:s Tuomas Laitinen, vocal artist Samita Sinha and visual artist Jesse Harold joined forces to create Portals that would lead to ”the ineffable terrain below the conceptual realm”. The piece was created from three originally independent, but ultimately organically linked, parts. It was performed for three exclusive audiences of seven at Panoply Performance Laboratory, New York. My work was based on Do-Nothing (fin. Tyhjäntoimittaja), a piece realized in 2012 as part of Utopian Reality. Do-Nothing is a person, who offers pure, uncompromised presence. In Portals, my goal was to guide the participants towards the state of mind of the Do-Nothing, that is to a place where nothing is done, but a sharing of that uncompromised presence. I also wanted to weave this process to the two other pieces applied at the Portals: Sinha’s Cipher and Harold’s Terratoma.

Cipher is a stage piece premiering in the fall 2014, and is based on a deeply embodied way of using human voice. In Portals, Sinha transported this material away from the stage, and among the participants, striving to encounter the bodies of the audience one by one with her body-sound. Terratoma originates from Harold’s own practice of visualizing and drawing imaginary parts of their body. In Portals they provide experience to the participants in one-on-one sessions of imagination and ink.

Jesse was silent; their voice instructing the participant from an iPod. As for my work, Do-Nothing was translated into a text written in small black books, that each participant could page through during the evening. So, each of the three parts was based on an earlier piece and offered a portal for the participant to enter at least partly into the position and energy of the creator, the performer or the artist.

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Our process on linking the three pieces was brief but blessed with multiple unintentional (subconscious?) connective elements. There were three black rectangles: in my book, in Jesse’s inky glass, in Samita’s iPhone providing a drone. There were three voices: from Samita’s mouth, from Jesse’s earphones, from the pages of my book.

There were three desires to explore the relationship of art and therapy: Samita’s voice entering the bodies of the spectators, Jesse’s ink and presence accessing the unpronounced ways they perceive their bodies and my sentences searching a way to share time and space with other people without a personal agenda. There was a joint wish to be in a vibrational space with the people participating in our event, to access a state of deep interaction that is beyond our conscious effort.

The feedback of the participants was rewarding, even luxurious. One spectator referred to the performance as ”chiropractic”, one said it was unforgettable, one witnessed her diaphragm falling like a parachute. Igor Rodriguez, who took part to all three nights, started his first performance with Terratoma: ”I exited the tent convinced of sense-self enactment; the senses furthering into portals, horizon-expanding and transformative.”

Quoting William Blake, Shawn Chua compared Portals to ”doors of perception”, through which ”every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite”. Chua ”dwelled in Portals, lingering at the thresholds across a multitude of portals that seemed to emerge and dissipate like the sounds that reverberated through the space. It is at this nexus that I perceived the Infinite - not an abstract, ethereal infinity, but a sensuous, corporeal affinity and infinitude”.

He also felt that we, the group of performers and participants, moved towards an understanding of being that Jean-Luc Nancy would call being-with. ”It is precisely this ’with’-ness that is made sonically corporeal in Portals. We do not begin with isolated entities in this synchronicity; we are already situated in a commons through which we co-constitute our singularities.”

Through these remarks made by the participants, it would seem that the space of the performance had some relation to a healing space. Externally, not much happened. Internally, people traveled long distances.

For myself, remarkable was the way of participation of the audiences. When writing the books, I didn’t consider my piece as participatory, that is asking the audience to be active - quite the opposite. I explicitly asked people to do nothing, be devoid of action. Or that is what I thought I did. But the audience didn’t feel that way. They moved, sang, touched, played the floor and the books - in a very sensitive, subtle and musical way. There was a special atmosphere of active presence, sonic vibration, anti-ocular togetherness.

I started to think how we articulated Do-Nothing once: it is shared solitude. This is a partial truth - the social level of communication is cut and replaced by solitude, which enables interaction on levels normally ignored. Not so far from the being-with brought up by Shawn Chua.

This led me to think, that what we activated, and my book among the others, was the sensitivity of the people. They became sensitive to their bodies, their presence, sounds and vibrations. This sensitivity, sensing, was active. Then, the line between sensing and doing blurred. When active sensing was doing nothing, it also opened a door to doing something in a way that is still doing nothing. If you get my point. They were doing nothing actively. This was mysterious to me.

For sure our audiences were remarkable in their experience and openness to enter into the experience we offered. It is difficult to distinguish how much of what happened was born of our work, and how much of it was enabled by the other people. They seemed fluent in a situation like this, demanding such presence. Terike Haapoja, who took part in the second performance, said it was ”both demanding and generous”. And added that it was more demanding in the beginning, and turned into generous through a letting go done by her. To have audiences that were willing to walk through the zone of demand with us was a huge gift.

I have done a lot of participatory performances, but I was used to being clear about the offer for the spectator to take part. The offer of Portals was not that clear. It was paradoxical, it was inviting the participants somewhere, but where that was was certainly ambiguous. They just took part, without asking, without breaking anything in our subtle piece.

We just started to walk in some direction and they followed. In this way it was like with children, but much much more slowly and subtly. It seems like there was something in the subtle balance between control and chaos, challenge and acceptance, form and no-form that was mastered, especially towards the third night. Participation was not a threshold, it was an atmosphere that sprouted and grew like a plant.

Tuomas Laitinen The creations of our 2012-13 research plan that focused on creating a utopian approach to reality are developed on in multiple ways. This is one of them. On three February thursdays RRC:s Tuomas Laitinen, vocal artist Samita Sinha and visual artist Jesse Harold joined forces to create Portals that would lead to ”the ineffable terrain below the conceptual realm”. The piece was created from three originally independent, but ultimately organically linked, parts. It was performed for three exclusive audiences of seven at Panoply Performance Laboratory, New York.

My work was based on Do-Nothing (fin. Tyhjäntoimittaja), a piece realized in 2012 as part of Utopian Reality. Do-Nothing is a person, who offers pure, uncompromised presence. In Portals, my goal was to guide the participants towards the state of mind of the Do-Nothing, that is to a place where nothing is done, but a sharing of that uncompromised presence. I also wanted to weave this process to the two other pieces applied at the Portals: Sinha’s Cipher and Harold’s Terratoma.

Cipher is a stage piece premiering in the fall 2014, and is based on a deeply embodied way of using human voice. In Portals, Sinha transported this material away form the stage, and among the participants, striving to encounter the bodies of the audience one by one with her body-sound. Terratoma originates from Harold’s own practice of visualizing and drawing imaginary parts of their body. In Portals they provide experience to the participants in one-on-one sessions of imagination and ink. Jesse was silent; their voice instructing the participant from an iPod. As for my work, Do-Nothing was translated into a text written in small black books, that each participant could page through during the evening. So, each of the three parts was based on an earlier piece and offered a portal for the participant to enter at least partly into the position and energy of the creator, the performer or the artist.

IMG_3092

Our process on linking the three pieces was brief but blessed with multiple unintentional (subconscious?) connective elements. There were three black rectangles: in my book, in Jesse’s inky glass, in Samita’s iPhone providing a drone. There were three voices: from Samita’s mouth, from Jesse’s earphones, from the pages of my book. There were three desires to explore the relationship of art and therapy: Samita’s voice entering the bodies of the spectators, Jesse’s ink and presence accessing the unpronounced ways they perceive their bodies and my sentences searching a way to share time and space with other people without a personal agenda. There was a joint wish to be in a vibrational space with the people participating in our event, to access a state of deep interaction that is beyond our conscious effort.

The feedback of the participants was rewarding, even luxurious. One spectator referred to the performance as ”chiropractic”, one said it was unforgettable, one witnessed her diaphragm falling like a parachute. Igor Rodriguez, who took part to all three nights, started his first performance with Terratoma: ”I exited the tent convinced of sense-self enactment; the senses furthering into portals, horizon-expanding and transformative.” Quoting William Blake, Shawn Chua compared Portals to ”doors of perception”, through which ”every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite”. Chua ”dwelled in Portals, lingering at the thresholds across a multitude of portals that seemed to emerge and dissipate like the sounds that reverberated through the space. It is at this nexus that I perceived the Infinite - not an abstract, ethereal infinity, but a sensuous, corporeal affinity and infinitude”. He also felt that we, the group of performers and participants, moved towards an understanding of being that Jean-Luc Nancy would call being-with. ”It is precisely this ’with’-ness that is made sonically corporeal in Portals. We do not begin with isolated entities in this synchronicity; we are already situated in a commons through which we co-constitute our singularities.”

Through these remarks made by the participants, it would seem that the space of the performance had some relation to a healing space. Externally, not much happened. Internally, people traveled long distances.

For myself, remarkable was the way of participation of the audiences. When writing the books, I didn’t consider my piece as participatory, that is asking the audience to be active - quite the opposite. I explicitly asked people to do nothing, be devoid of action. Or that is what I thought I did. But the audience didn’t feel that way. They moved, sang, touched, played the floor and the books - in a very sensitive, subtle and musical way. There was a special atmosphere of active presence, sonic vibration, anti-ocular togetherness. I started to think how we articulated Do-Nothing once: it is shared solitude. This is a partial truth - the social level of communication is cut and replaced by solitude, which enables interaction on levels normally ignored. Not so far from the being-with brought up by Shawn Chua.

This led me to think, that what we activated, and my book among the others, was the sensitivity of the people. They became sensitive to their bodies, their presence, sounds and vibrations. This sensitivity, sensing, was active. Then, the line between sensing and doing blurred. When active sensing was doing nothing, it also opened a door to doing something in a way that is still doing nothing. If you get my point. They were doing nothing actively. This was mysterious to me.

For sure our audiences were remarkable in their experience and openness to enter into the experience we offered. It is difficult to distinguish how much of what happened was born of our work and how much of it was enabled by the other people. They seemed fluent in a situation like this, demanding such presence. Terike Haapoja, who took part in the second performance, said it was ”both demanding and generous”. And added that it was more demanding in the beginning, and turned into generous though a letting go done by her. To have audiences that were willing to walk though the zone of demand with us was a huge gift.

I have done a lot of participatory performances, but I was used to being clear about the offer for the spectator to take part. The offer of Portals was not that clear. It was paradoxical, it was inviting the participants somewhere, but where that was was certainly ambiguous. They just took part, without asking, without braking anything in our subtle piece. We just started to walk in some direction and they followed. In this way it was like with children, but much much more slowly and subtly. It seems like there was something in the subtle balance between control and chaos, challenge and acceptance, form and no-form that was mastered, especially towards the third night. Participation was not a threshold, it was an atmosphere that sprouted and grew like a plant.