We find that the most generic space is also the most sticky- affixing to it the fine details and nuanced conditions of local spontaneous and remote networks of experience. Studio3, a dance and performing arts center in Dexter, Michigan, is an exploration into how space might begin to frame and reconfigure theatrical relationships - through material culture, color, surface, etc- and televisual image culture.
The dance studio is not a passive place of spectatorship, where performer-performed-viewer-viewed are utterly separate and distinguished. Rather, we draw on contemporary image culture where the subject and viewer are often superimposed on one another and form part of an undifferentiated territory of hybrid viewer-performers.
(The performer is not only an object performing for the gaze, but performing as and amongst the digital and analogue gaze simultaneously).
The effect is a series of images layered and superimposed on one another.
Surfaces that reconfigure and transmit image as affective experience.
A performer-spectator space, where parents watch their children learn and perform dance…the studio is a layered series of spaces and surfaces, reflecting, reconfiguring, and transposing images on one another. The generic strip-mall landscape- everywhere America- like a dark television screen asserts is abject placelessness. A storefront for fluid identities and the proliferation of image cultures- Studio3 is a petri dish of performer-spectator subjects, their roles reconfigured, transposed, collapsed, projected through and back out of the space, onto the sidewalk, across the street, to the supermarket, to little bro’s baseball practice, then home for a snack, nap, and a quick t.v. scan of the latest reality. The layering of spaces, virtual and physical projections, transparencies and reflectivity, material and image cultures; they form part of Studio3’s narrative: the relationship of Dance Mom (or Dad) and her (or his) Daughter (or son) within Studio3 itself, but also beyond; bolstering the performativity of the studio spilling outward, into the physical and virtual everyday of those who participate.
The wall that divides the green room and the dance studio conveying wall: one that not only allows for visual associations but also negotiations between performer and spectator, parent and child. The portal frames parent and child alike, mutually constructing performer and spectator in a fluid choreography that changes with conditions of light, sound, and inhabitation. The surface of the portal is transparent with semi-reflective glazing to allow for ones image to be reflected back while being projected through. These projections and reflections meet other glazed surfaces (the storefront windows facing the street, the mirrors in the studio spaces), producing a new image of the interior transposed: performer and spectator, parent and child are superimposed onto one another in a reconfiguration of the roles of each. The entirety of the interior becomes a performed space where the green room is as much a space of performance as the studios themselves, and likewise the studios become a space of spectatorship.
The spaces of Studio3 are not designed to maintain the traditional logics of spectator and performer or their identities. Rather, Studio3 draws on the logics of digital culture and mass mediation to give form to its users. The identity and roles of the user are singular and fixed, but multivalent and mobile: users are networked amongst one another internally, and likewise connected to and affected by digital cultures that permeate their everyday lives.
The surfaces that make up Studio 3 are membranes of conductance: they not only apportion space and programmatically organize, as surfaces tend to do, but they also project and superimpose various forms of identity: those that are of the Studio3 brand, of the studio’s users defined programmatically, and also the digitally networked identities of the users and studio alike.
Relative to the material configurations of Studio 3, children and their parents- as representatives of performers and spectators respectively- are figured and re-figured programmatically and spatially via transparencies and reflectivity (glass and mirrors) outwardly from the streetscape to the interior of the performance and practice spaces.
The entry space becomes a green room literally in its surface treatment and in the sense of being a waiting space that at once provide parents and children a place to gather and wait while also projecting the identity of the studio outward onto the street. Thus the green room becomes a space of holding and projecting mediated by the storefront glazing that defines it as separate from and part of the street.
Likewise, the partial reflectivity of the glazed portal between the green room and the studio spaces allows parents to observe their children as they perform and practice. However, as the portal frames performers, so does it frame the spectator in an oscillating choreography of performer and spectator. The oscillation not only depends on the spatial position of each constituent, but also on the lighting conditions, which cause the glazed portal to reflect, project, and superimpose identities differently in a game of framing and re-framing performer and spectator. As such the portal becomes a mechanism of relational production in which performer and spectator are partially discreet, partially commingled, and always mutually constructed.
The desire is for a material and spatial manifestation that produces a dialogue with both local and globally networked identity formations, with the presumption that users are not isolated events with internally fixed identities, but rather subjects that are oriented both internally and externally relative to physical and digital urban contexts.