I have created a new system for live performance. These sculpture-furniture-objects are condensed stages for each performer. By spreading the stage into multiple focal points, the audience is deeply immersed in the performance, free to move about and experience intimate and unique vantage points.
Some of the best designs are solutions to problems we didn't know we had. What a great idea! And well executed. We loved that this is both sculptural and community-building! The furniture is incredibly striking and elegant, but the best part is the way it opens up all sorts of possibilities for performance space. Simple concept, nice clean design, and replicable with the right resources. Really well done. We especially loved seeing the project in action.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
From ancient amphitheaters to underground, smoke-filled rock venues, the stage has remained largely unchanged. The basic conditions of a raised platform afford increased visibility and audibility when situated in correct relationship to an audience, raising performers physically and socially. However, the stage is a distant, unreachable point, with a strict line between performer and audience, similar to watching the news; one-way communication.
I set out to create a new system of performance that would provide instantaneous feedback between performance and audience. As a self-initiated project, this direction excited me as a huge step towards achieving something truly new in live performance.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
I have experience in design, fine woodworking, musical composition, arrangement and performance, theatrical design and performance, illustration and graphic design, all of which were brought to bear on this project. As a self-initiated project, there was not a traditional "brief", rather a wide-spanning vision for a whole new system of presenting a live performance.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
The project particularly considers the independent musician, as the furniture allows a performance to occur without any dependence on a venue. When spread out in an appropriately sized audience, the musicians require no amplification or venue-supplied stage. All that is needed is the furniture, performers, and audience.
It also considers independent woodworkers. It is unlikely that this set of furniture would be mass produced. I would rather have independent musicians commission local artisans to produce unique versions of these pieces to suit their particular needs.
The project also supports local commerce through such avenues as craigslist and weekly antique markets where I collected the various musical instruments incorporated into the designs.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
This design was developed through a year of experimental performances, multiple prototypes and research into traditional wood joinery. It was also informed by a previous 5 years of observations of and experimentation with my own and other's musical performances.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
This design uses local commerce, cottage industry and used materials/equipment. It does not depend on electricity to be used. It aids the independent musician by creating an intimacy with their audience, and vis-versa. By taking away sound amplification and replacing it with proximity, it requires the size of the audience to be smaller and the audience to listen more closely. When amplification is stripped away, there is a direct path of sound; a much needed alternative to a modern life filled with communication mediated by technology.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
I would have liked to have more funding to include more musicians/instruments/furniture.