Striking a Balance

The models we have built this week seem to fall into two categories – specific models that examine the interactions of one or two elements of a system, or wider models that look at a broader system, but cannot realize its detail and complexity.  This is due partially to the early stages of a process, but creating a model where each of these perspectives of a system could support and highlight one another is something I am excited to move towards.

 In developing for purposes of performance we are also integrating narrative and characters, and this is also a balance that is difficult to strike – between narrative (with characters), mechanism and system. It seems that the complexity of one – to an extent – means a lack in another.

In some of the models we have developed characters were used to focus upon how a particular system operated and familiarize an audience with the environment (Airport), in others the characters provided perspectives on how the system impacted their lives or how they would like it changed (Community Garden). In others the characters were the ones that were changed as a result of the system being altered (Thrush High). However introducing characters to a system, (as with people), seemed to increase the complexity of the model – due to fallibility and changeability-, make each system more difficult to negotiate – as you take them into account -, and also increase the uncertainty of being correct in any decision.

 Narrative similarly provided a perspective of the environment, or an imaginative setting for the models to exist within, using the narrative to assist in understanding the mechanism and the system that they were engaging with. 

This is partially down to self imposed time restrictions, and this stage of the process, where we are discussing, generating material and learning what works and what doesn’t, but the scope for the ways in which the two can be employed have much more within them to be explored.

I have learned that it is difficult to address both narrative and also system and also mechanism all at once, under a limited time frame. You want to be able to do all of that, while still making it appear simple to negotiate, complex enough to engage with, and satisfying.

It may be that within this exploration we decide that there is one system we want to fully flesh out and create small systems within it to examine small parts of a larger operation. As an interactive performance work it certainly needs both narrative and system, and it is easy to imagine how these elements could support one another within a performance context – however it is difficult to strike a balance.

How do you introduce characters and narrative to co-modeling? What purpose do they serve, and how can these two elements operate without detracting or trivializing one from the other?









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