"mistakes" in improvisation and dealing with technology

Richard Allen (richarda@beam.com.au)
Wed, 1 Sep 1999 10:34:40 +1000

> (ref. my earlier comments about the Sean Curran piece). If you just use
> skillful choreography and careful timing of your video, lights, sound,
> etc, surely you can achieve exactly the same effect, without having to
> worry about "gaping holes" or other errors?

Aren't the "errors" and how the performer deals with "mistakes" an essential
part of a performance? If perfection were the goal, we could just record
the "best" performance on video and lose all spontaneity...

I find the clunky, groping attempts at involving hi-tech gear in some pieces
often accidentally have quite a lot to say about our everyday personal
struggle with the beastly machines! How we humans relate to the current
explosion of technology in our society (a pretty important issue in my
book), may not be a deliberate theme, but may sneak in anyways.

What we are trying to achieve in attempting to get our complex creations to
"behave" like unruly children? So often I hear people complaining about
technical problems - "the sensor was supposed to trigger this, but instead
it did something completely wrong and..." when the actual result was really
quite fitting. I saw a great piece of electronic music performed a few
months back in Melbourne, in which the artist fretted over numerous
technical glitches. To be honest, the audience thought it was part of the
show (it certainly sounded good to me) and only later did I find out it was

Please excuse my ranting on this, but it's a bit of a personal mission of
mine in my own performances (mostly musical, improvised and electronic) to
relax when "mistakes" happen, and use these uncomfortable (for me) events as
seeds to learn from and explore new ideas that I would not have pursued