A continuation of Extended Techniques, an experimental lecture by Sprechgesang Institute focusing on nontraditional uses of conventional objects or tools, Asterisms is the active site for unexpected hybridizations of categorical knowledge, a break from normalized interpretations of experience.
The general idea is to have a range of artists (which might include dancers, plumbers, mathematicians, painters, biologists etc) presenting their work alongside one another in a gallery space. One idea is for an exhibition to exist as a well-curated collection of objects, introduced by a performative opening event. During the opening (or periodically throughout the duration of the exhibition), the artists would present their work in a somewhat-choreographed way, so that the different gestures and/or words of the artists begin to sync up or mirror each other throughout the evening.
a. chef: prepares, seasons, and cooks several plates of fish. Exhibited objects include cooking appliances, ingredient list, spices, cooking utensils, receipts for fish, etc. During performance, chef cooks and distributes fish to other artists in the exhibition, while reciting instructions about his/her process.
b. chemist: works on a set of chemical equations in a make-shift lab. Exhibited objects a portable chemistry set, lab notebook, reference material, and other required equipment. During performance, chemist will perform tests while narrating results.
c. painter: as in a ‘traditional’ gallery exhibition, painter stands beside his/her work, wine glass in hand. During performance, painter speaks about the work in scripted fashion
d. sculptor: mirroring the painter, see c.
e. toast enthusiast: a collector of toasters, demonstrates the usage of the toasters. He/she talks at length about his/her history of collecting these items, and presents resulting toast to other gallery artists. Exhibited objects include a collection of toasters lined up against the wall with appropriate ‘museum label’ type documentation.
f. potter: potter stands behind three identical pots. Periodically, he/she switches the order, not being able to decide the preferred presentation. He/she narrates this indecision throughout the performance.
g. therapist: therapist sits on a couch with stack of books. He/she attempts to analyze the other exhibiting artists while scribbling in a notebook. Or therapist just sits quietly and observes.
h. musician: prepares to play, mostly stands beside instrument. Periodically, musician will perform pieces of work. Objects exhibited include instrument, music stand, chair, water, pencil, and metronome.
i. choreographer: composes a work on the floor, in score-like fashion. He/she tries out different movements while composing. Objects exhibited include in-progress score/notes, reference material, water, etc.
During the opening, at first it is not noticeable that each artist is ‘performing’ certain orchestrated tasks. The actions seem recognizable, expected, or preparatory for an un-begun performance. But eventually, some co-ordination becomes visible. For example:
While rambling about work, the painter and the sculptor start to synchronize words and topics: “interested in the liminal space”, “subversion of social practices” etc……meanwhile the chef and the chemist begin to match each other’s rhythm in gestures through seasoning fish and activating pipettes……..the toast is done and the enthusiast offers each artist a piece………..the potter is getting more frustrated with the order of the objects and asks the choreographer to give an opinion…………meanwhile the therapist focuses in on the musician and starts rambling about possible diagnosis for observed behavior……the fish is done and the chef presents a piece of fish to the musician but the musician is busy playing so the chef feeds the musician a bite while he/she plays…….meanwhile the ramblings of the toast enthusiast begin to mirror the painter as well: “interested in the liminal space between the toast and the butter” etc etc.