Our own best critics

Jeff Miller (jgmille2@students.wisc.edu)
Thu, 14 May 1998 19:33:56 -0500

Johannes said:
>"We need to be our own reviewers?" I hope you are not suggesting we should
>review our own work.

But of course! And may I say that I am one of the most talented artists
it's been my privilege to work with, my creative vision only exceeded by my

No, actually I meant reviewing each other--yes, for example, going to
Houston. Or even making sure that the people who do the review have a
background into what they are seeing. Probably a visual artist with some
smattering of performance art knowledge could grasp what happens in some
"gestalt" pieces. It's the curse of being in a new field, I guess. I
think it's great that Artlies actually came to a choreographer for their
editing. From what I've seen, it tends to either be the same reviewer who
covers dramas and movies, or whatever junior staffer has nothing better to

>I work with technological concepts and media all the time. [sacrifice to
>the bandwidth god] We are traveling between 5 or 6 sites, and are never
>quite together. If our piece will cohere next Wednesday/Thursday on opening
>night (we only get the theatre for full tech one night before), it will be
>a concentrated effort, based on the strenght of our vision and the
>concept/movement content we have evolved.
>I did not condemn intermedia performance at all, I only reminded us of some
>limitations that cannot be compensated by the final cluster/superimposition
>of the media. In fact, if I feel that our interactive scenario doesn't
>work, I should do what Yacov did, namely cancel the performance.

I couldn't agree more. Having had some training in lighting design, for
example, I tend to get a bit hostile when people talk about having a
designer light "my" pieces. I run into experiences like this working with
theatre people, who come to production meetings and somehow fail to
communicate. It's almost comical when the costume designer sees that the
beautiful green velvet he picked turns black under the lighting designers'
choice, or the actors try to dance over a 45 degree plank in the floor that
the choreographer didn't know about (personal experience with that one.

That kind of brings us full circle...the object of the IATech program,
here at UW, is to create a bunch of "generalists" who can do it all, or at
least have a coherent vision of it all. I'm not saying we always get it--I
think it's going to be a while before we are even able to figure out what
technologies are best to be taught, at the rate they are changing.
Somehow, though, I remain optimistic that we will move beyond the
"cluster/superimposition" into a true collaboration and combination,
creating new forms of beauty.

Oops. Almost led into a different topic there. I'd better quit while I'm


"All seen reality is beautiful. It's man's thoughts that break the universe."