LIVE ARTS FOR THE EVERYDAY – APPLICABLE THOUGHT #68 – Overacting

Overacting is carrying out an action with more energy than necessary. Leaving aside the possibility of parody, why would a performer do this? It would seem to be an attempt at highlighting what we are doing, as if we thought that the audience might not realize the importance of what we’re doing, so we make an effort to get the focus. We may succeed in obtaining the other’s attention… while losing their resonance, empathy and connection.

 

 

María Ferrara

 

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LIVE ARTS FOR THE EVERYDAY – APPLICABLE THOUGHT #42 – Homogeneity

Repetition and minimalism are two of the approaches with which postmodern music and dance in the 1960s questioned traditional forms. Attention is challenged by not feeding it with the contrast that it naturally gravitates towards. Instead, the same pattern or element is looped ad infinitum, with or without slight variation or developments. When we hold ourselves in there long enough, our perception will sooner or later switch into a different perception paradigm. John Cage said, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” A bit like meditating. At first it may seem like nothing is happening, but at some point there is a shift in the mind and we start noticing the subtleties that usually pass us by unnoticed.

 


María Ferrara

 

LIVE ARTS FOR THE EVERYDAY – APPLICABLE THOUGHT #41 – Contrast

Our mind is wired to respond to change and difference with attention. This enables us to adapt to new conditions and helps us survive. Because of the time element involved in live arts, this is an important consideration when composing a piece. Contrast tends to keep the audience attentive. However, if everything is different and changing all the time, this would become the constant and the mind would register sameness as the contrasting element. Routine can turn my attention off. What do I need to break the routine and wake up? Is it a routine of sameness or a routine of irregularity? Do I need something extraordinary or, rather, some continuity?

 


María Ferrara

 

LIVE ARTS FOR THE EVERYDAY – APPLICABLE THOUGHT #13 – Foreground

Live arts have traditionally used the distinctions between background and foreground: harmony/ melody, chorus/protagonist, corps de ballet/soloist to direct the attention of the audience. However, some contemporary approaches prefer to avoid this hierarchy and allow the audience by means of its attention to be the one that composes its own experience out of what is being presented. Gestalt therapy took from Gestalt psychology not only its name, but the notion that a figure and the ground it stands in are just parts of a field. According to this, it is the observer’s/listener’s attention that designates the figure. Sometimes it can seem that the same figure comes to the foreground obsessively in our lives. It might be interesting to ask ourselves what is making our attention pick out the exact same element out of an everchanging field.

María Ferrara