Journal of the meeting August 2021

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August 18 2021

The Abstract

“Even though the postdramatic turn in the performing arts has radically reshuffled the dramaturgical hierarchy of different signifying entities that are at stake in a work of art, light as an essential signifier and agent in performative situations and, as a consequence, the practice of lighting design has until now been underappreciated (1). Setting aside some specific practices, light is in general less recognized, analyzed and understood as a fundamental part in the dramaturgy of contemporary performing arts practices, nor does it find its way into the artistic curriculum of performing arts educational programs in general. Lighting design has been evolving greatly though, both as an autonomous and an interdependent artform, however much of that work gets lost in translation when it comes to the dialogue with directors, theatre makers, dramaturges, performers… (2) How to speak about light? How to create from the perspective of lighting (design)? How to make light a full and equal signifier within a contemporary dramaturgy? (3)"

(1)  But what is causing things? Is light too much considered as a normality – something like: 'there’s always light'. Or is it because of a lack of lexicon? Are we not able to talk on light?

(2)  The materialisation of light: it turns away from being a performer and becomes a something you can regulate in terms of ‘more/less’.

(3)  Can we start a discourse leaving of from questiong the basic lexicon of more and less. More or less what?

Short discussion on light as signifier.

If stagework is a communication between different elements that create meaning - how come light was never questioned in that respect? Is there a sense of normality regarding light? Or is a lack of lexicon blocking all discourse on light?

Remark: the practice of nowadays lighting design was formed in what is called the postdramatic era, where light became the agent - par excellence - to replace the idea of a set, provoking an aesthetics of the empty space. (ref. Grotowski/Brecht - and the fear for illusion). This turns light away from being a vivid layer, from being a performer towards something materialised - a recording, purely functional: the aesthetics of neutral/working light.

in its extreme deconstruction: minimalism becomes a limitation for material-use - a solo is expected to use less lamps, more sparse plot - wrong angle

Excercise: to start developing a lexicon from the sparse one from uninformed dialogues in our praxis; like using 'less and more' but give depth to what different attributes can be quantified in that way

Preliminary lighting design discourse.

A danger lingers in this discourse: it might generate expectations that are not met - because of a not matching vocabulary.

Should we not differentiate between lexicon and discourse? Where lexicon is a tool enabling a conversation - a negotiation - beyond technical notions, learn to see through operating fixtures.

Create a sensitivity to watch the light. And what it makes visible: the dramaturgy.

August 19 2021

10h41 Introductionary questions:

-       If you could eliminate something in your current practice what would that be?

-       If you scan the projects you did since we met last time, what was your favorite research(phase)?

The Conditioned Ignorance

Contrary to tendencies in contemporary art-pratices lighting design is still considered to be a 'product' - and as such not allowed to be part of the 'live' aspect of performing arts, denying that light needs to be adapted if the conditions change. Which is a very industrial/productive point of view.

-- conditions for post-production (read: touring) need to be fixed before the creation. Aware that lighting design needs time - sometimes victim of its own praxis - and thus has a major footprint in the post-production of a creation.

-- a situation of trust situation rather then contract - trust in people on the floor - trust in the touring company

-- example from a praxis: demand two weeks of creation/time after the première to make a plot production-ready.

-- in relation to the authorship: as in performing arts not the project is the brand but the author/initiator - the process is pending on a equilibrium between partition (shared) and responsability (singular).

A holistic thread on Tools

Lanbox is no longer acknowledged - or even allowed? - as a tool for individual artistic practice. The current tendency in theatres is to (be forced to) specialise in one specific (technical) protocol. The implications are manyfold:

-- practical: breaking in with your own device is become very difficult, not to say impossible. And at the same time programming a performance in a device becomes an important part of the production time on tour. Not only within the company but also for the theatre - they need to provide the programmer.

-- it takes technology out of the creative process - as it needs a linear translation for the local programmer - impacting last minute decisions on the spot. the conduite of a presentation becomes part of a negotiation.

-- deficit of lanbox as a designing tool as the translation pends on people with other technologies

What is the need of a personal tool - translate as: what possibility to create your instrument - opposed to the technical reality, looking for commercial standards.

Name a favourite research

(Henri) a project by Melanie Perrier - a childrens' performance, leaving from a genuine interest in light feeding the project - in search for the 'efficiency' of old tools. resulted in Matisse-like color shadows, rainbow from 20 2K-s, playing on korg as a piano.

(JanM) remark: there is nothing before creation. Preliminary is a part of creation and is a constant presence in the creation. Blessed as a solid dialectic process between the different media in full runs - creating unexpected circumstances and opportunities.

(JanF) yes: co-running different media at the same time allows them to become a piece - eventhough the workfields in bigger productions get differentiated, but then you need to pend on interpersonal connection.

(Emese) when creating becomes a process of radical wellness - and production a part of the concept

What's in it (for us)?

(Emese) reading Ikujiro Nonaka's Dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation makes space for tacit knowledge and allows dialogue between explicit and embodied knowledge. Towards an articulation of commitment and an archive of practices: observe and write about one another's work, observe simple phenomena in a lexicon.

-- And how to turn this in an understanding of lighting design? Take perception as a startingpoint - perception of phenomena and of performances.

August 20 2021

Research group meets KASK staff:

Introduction of the project and involved people.



Katrien Vuylsteke Vanfleteren (head of the research Department )

Frederik Le Roy (head of the department of photography and drama)

Shila Hadji Heydari Anaraki (coördinator peformance department)

Bardia Mohammad (head of production/lightdesigner)

Heike Langsdorf - via zoom (performance department)

Research group

Geert Belpaeme (coordinator)

Bram Coeman (Buda)

Kristof Jonckheere (Buda)

Mathilde Villeneuve (Buda)

Emese Csornai (LD, project)

Henri Emmanuel DOUBLIER (LD, project)

Jan Fedinger (LD, project)

Jan Maertens (LD, project)

Tomi Humalisto (Uniarts Helsinki, LD)

Friedle De Meyere (KASK performance student)

KASK: The commission asked to look at the music department and media art.

BUDA: We already have some clear ideas what we tend to do within the curriculum of the drama and performance program. So, this year we will really take the time to go talk with different coordinators, from different programs to see how this would also fit in with the way they work.

This year our first contact with student will be through the project week. Which will be open to all student, from different programs. We really intend to build this up in different ways by having initial conversation with first year students, about broad concept such as what light and lighting design could be. To also on the other side of the spectrum do more elaborate master classes and following master student withing their master projects.

In a way this has goals in two different directions. In the sense that part of what we intend to do with this project is to find ways in which light and lighting can be more integrated, within art education. Teaching and interacting with different ways, as to create ways of speaking that can be helpful and keep on going after this project is finished.

But also, the other way around, that also all these directions are really for use to learn from.

Interacting with many different people that are in other places within the light and lighting design field. Will help us allot to find ways to speak about light and in different relations.

A reflective base, our intention is to start writing and publishing from the beginning and not write everything down at the end. We would make our own little fanzine.

KASK: I am very excited that you want to work with first years because I think it can open up room for experimentation, more than with older students who work on their end products. Also that it goes to different disciplines, for the same reason. So I’m wondering your practices if they are all stage practices, does it always have to be on stage? The other question, what do you need technically?

BUDA:  In the beginning, we plan on talking about light design and work on the development of a vocabulary. We’d have a talk with the student about where they stand and maybe watch a theater piece. So, for this we don’t need as much.

Afterwards for the workshop and to work on a project we would need material and a theater or a place to work with the lights.

BUDA: We see it as a positive asset that the school has limited abilities, because a very important aspect of the research is to not go as quickly to the technical part and work with the lamps. Because light design often becomes limited to these practical technicalities. We want the interaction with the students to start before that. Starting without technical possibilities and begin with speaking on light and lighting design. How you think about it, how you prepare it without having to have a whole technical ability.

BUDA: That’s an important thing in our research, because from practice we found out that a lot of also ex-KASK students don’t find a way to explain what they want from the light design. This happens before you enter the stage, so we really want to focus on this before stage moment. There for it is liberating not to be stuck to a studio for me.

KASK: And to think of light more than this.

BUDA: This is also something you don’t find in writing, when you go to a bookstore you find shelfs of books on scenography but there are only two books about light. Because it’s a subject that’s hardly written about, it’s very difficult to talk about and that’s something that we try to address as well. So that it becomes something that’s formulated.

KASK: And in terms of the first question, your practices are they mainly stage based?

BUDA: In my case they are, the stage is mainly the working ground but of course there’s always been a project that looks into the periphery of what the stage can be. Sometimes you quickly get into evoking the possibilities of the stage somewhere else. It’s been fashionable to have the performing art shows in the museum for instance and not very often you see a real new dialogue with space. But of course, they exist. But in my case, it’s more the periphery of my practice that is happening of stage.

BUDA: There is also this specification of different art forms, that of course determents what it can become from a stage practice, from a practice of stage lighting. So many of us are reaching out or coming from or going into fine arts. So, addressing light in a different medium is a question of how it gets received whether it gets space or not. So it is something that has to do with the stage, but it’s absolutely not only operating on the stage.

KASK:  Is the aim or the goal of the research also to emancipate light of the performance production or theater production or music production or not at all?

BUDA: It could be but it’s not a goal.

BUDA:  It’s more like stepping out of the background, it’s more about showing a presence.

BUDA: The emancipation can also be seen within the performance art, I think that’s more the aim. It’s the emancipation within the performance art rather than to step out of the performance art environment and see it through the eyes of fine arts or whatever.

BUDA: Our basis I guess for all of us is in performing arts but that doesn’t mean it stays there.

BUDA: And someone like Ezra for example who isn’t here, her practice plays both in visual arts and within performing arts. She also graduated as a painter here at KASK and is still working as a painter.

And to add to this emancipation or stepping out, it is needed to understand and to verbalize and to gain knowledge about the thing which has been a little bit invisible. So that’s why the focus is now moving to something which has been previously invisible and now coming to the front.

BUDA: There is a search or a desire to research how light can be a starting initiator within a project or a main signifier within a work of art. So, to really research that extreme. But at the same time this idea of elaborating the discourse on light and lighting design. It’s not only about how you need to work extremely with light or that your only focus should be there.

But also, in general when students start making their work in the performing arts but also next it, light always plays a super important roll. But a lot of the time people are not conscious of that and hardly have any sensibility to what is happening there and what could happen there. When someone says there has to be light and nothing more, the question is what do you mean there has to be light?

KASK: To develop a discourse is the main task in that, if it’s drawings or if it’s codes or is it text or is it a combination of all of that together. This gives a language to the students and to others.

BUDA: Yesterday we made the remark that there is no basic lexicon on light. We want to start with this.

KASK: It’s like having a conversation on wine, it’s the same thing you can taste wine and the more discourse you have about somethings, the more you taste in that wine.

BUDA: The moment you start formulating or give names to things you start seeing these things in future wine tastings.

KASK: I’m curious about the interdisciplinary aspect of it because the moment you start to collaborate with students from different disciplines, the question is raised how you bring students from different backgrounds together rather than working with light. These are very different dynamics, so I’m curious how this will work, because sometimes it can be productive but other times it can also shift the focus to something else.

BUDA: So that’s why we are taking this first year to be as present as possible and to try and involve ourselves.

BUDA: I think it is very good that it’s taken broader than just a very tiring way of looking what’s on stage and drama. Because you can really develop new ways of dealing with light and confronting it with new media. For instance, music or contemporary music can be filled up nicely with the visual maybe light as a dynamic partner to present something in a performative way. This kind of encounters can be very interesting to develop these new directions.

August 21 2021

Research topics - first set out.

  1. Performativity of light - and non-human performers. Researching both personal praxis - resonating with theories of post-human dramaturgy.
  2. Towards a new materialism - and the crisis of 'production'. What is the impact of industry on the 'métier'? How comes that designing the tools - and new legislations - influences creative desiging? And what is our reaction: how can we keep challenging the instruments - and how to formulate - in depth - arguments to counter these tendencies.
  3. A historic research on light vs scenography - and how lightingdesign evokes new ways to implement scenography to make light 'interesting'. Both as a theorectical - archives - and a formal, practical research on stage. (inversed: How can light be a deceiver?)
  4. The dramaturgy of light vs lighting design - what are we speaking about?