Monday, January 16, 2012

The Experiment


by Will Broussard

My first assignment at Art for Water took place on Sunday. I was to document "The Experiment;" a focus group/pilot project for a new participatory performance piece, Voicing the Common, under development by Christine Destrempes and Joni Doherty. A week prior to the event a prompt was circulated locally among close friends and colleagues, instructing them to spend 10 minutes in close proximity to a source of water of their choosing, be it inside a quiet bathroom, next to a frozen river, or under a torrential rainstorm.

Whether the source was natural or artificial, the project stated that audience members devote the first 5 minutes to silently experiencing their surroundings. Any smells, sounds, tastes or tactile sensations should be noted. The following 5 minutes were then spent documenting the experience in a written, but otherwise open ended fashion. Poetry, a lists of impressions, or simple objective observation were among the suggestions provided. Once this written piece was completed The Experiment was ready for launch.

The event began with guests reading their work aloud, one at a time, while seated in a circle. After the initial go around, the group was instructed to read their work as a whole; simultaneously. The result was a cacophony of sounds that were chaotic at first, but developed a cohesive flow and natural rhythm over time. There was group chanting and group whispering of written work, followed by collective laughter in the face of shared vulnerability. In the end, the audience felt appreciative for the experimental process, and enjoyed a deep conviction that, though very enjoyable, the exercise laid important groundwork for Christine and Joni's future public-participation projects together.

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