A Quiet Day in the Loft = A Productive One On The Archive Admin Front

Day Forty Two: Friday 12th August 2011

Performance Broadcast

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 16.36.20
Born-Digital Archive Reference Code: IiS_P.B.45_2011-08-12_log-day-42
This video is no longer available due to a resource failure in the archive control procedures of the proprietary live streaming provider for Instability in Stability.*

Overall the past couple of months it has dawned on me that I have a tendency to be more relaxed and at ease in my task when there is an audience present and active on the Chat Room feed. I feel like I have a friend/companion/confidant/guardian of and to my thoughts, to share my actions/ideas/thoughts with directly. However, behind the scenes of the broadcasts the ‘broadcast management screen’ on Live Stream offers an insight into the data analytics of how many people are watching and where in the world. Most of the time there are numerous silent witnesses. This is important to be aware of as it reminds me, as a performer, to be acutely aware of the camera and how I interact in the space of the loft as well as in the virtual space of the Chat Room. When I talk to a person in the Chat Room, I end up concentrating on the computer more and how I can then activate their challenges, requests, memories and experiences of the audience members within the loft, following their lead in terms of what they may want to explore in the loft and/or their own personal questions rather than concretely performing the act of archiving.

In both situations (written and non-written responses, present and silent participants) I have a bad habit of trying to work out who the person might be. I don’t know why as you can never really tell who is watching, because even if someone signs onto the chat and has a name I may recognise this does not indicate it is really them, as we saw on Day Six and the Scenting Our Past identity theft is rife on any Internet Profiling site, you can never be sure the person is who they say they are, is this their real name? does their avatar match their face?

I have made numerous mistakes throughout these broadcast about who I think I was addressing, believing them to be one person, someone I know from my past/present life, and therefore spoke to them and reflected on aspects of life that I feel they might have an affinity to. However, when they have asked a question in return or written a response or challenge in the Chat Room the phraseology they use triggers the realisation that I am speaking to a completely different person to whom I thought I was. I tend to then  transform my behaviour and mode of performance, becoming perhaps more polite, or swearing lots, or failing to implement a poker face to hide my surprise at finally figuring out who I am speaking to. Depending on the type of  pre-existing relationship I hold or don’t hold with this person the unveiling and masking of identities has turned out to be a series of serendipitous interactions as viewers get to see different sides to my personality and to hear about certain experiences in my life, which they were most likely unaware of. Also it breaks down my perception of the people I have known previous by enabling me to embark upon an exchange that we might not have had before, and for those that I have never met we can experiment with modes of connection and communication in a way we may not be able to in any other social situation. The archiving process sheds new light on a subject and this is what is embedded in the act of communication I have with the audience. I get to know the audience in a new/different lights and they get to know me in a multitude of ways too.

For example I recently found out who ‘voyeur number 1’ is from the broadcast In Conversation With… and it came as a complete surprise, I had not expected this person to be watching or to have made the type of remarks they did in response to the night’s broadcast. Although now thinking back this makes perfect sense when I think of this person and who they are in day to day life. This juxtaposition of understanding both the other person and my own responses to the other intrigues me immensely, but it has also made me feel a bit ashamed as we are taught not to judge. Through my expectations and assumptions of the project, and of people’s level of interactions, I had judged who I thought might want to interact with the project and how. It has also made me notice I do the same with others who do interact on a regular basis. I seem to subconsciously expect a certain level of interaction with them, for example the sister project artists Ria and Sven,  have become key components of the project offering a regular weekly pattern of viewing and participation. Although I know they will inevitable contact me via the Chat Room or an Archive Appointment, when and how they connect always remains a surprise on lots of levels, participation therefore has become a regular but unpredictable pattern that creates an intriguing dynamic in the performance.

It has been really rewarding to see how the project can operate on so many levels for viewers/participants/me, etc. constantly seeking and exploring, discovering and recovering. Hence Holly’s idea, as offered on the Facebook social media thread on 6th July, whereby I embody an archival performance persona Cara Loft. Cara Loft operates in the archive to bring connections between people, people and objects, different peoples’ memories in order to share them with new audiences and performance processes.

I recently heard the line in a film: “having one’s life summed up can be very disparaging”, in a strange way an archive is a summary to one’s life experiences so far, if only a very fragmented one”. Somehow the contents of the loft archive makes you feel alone, you remember you are just a body in a sea of experiences, which whilst this can be lonely in the environment and repository of the archive (aka the loft) it can be rather liberating to have, as Amy was discussing yesterday, a sense of detachment from the unnecessary thoughts, knowledge and items needed for us to live our lives at this moment in time. I can leave the loft knowing that all of these things will be stored in a place where I can return when I need to access that information.

In theory you can never be alone with this wealth of data and experience and whilst the quote above may be true and momentarily stop you in your tracks to make you realise the shocking reality of existence – that we are just a body and we will die (which is a very disparaging thought for some) – we can take on the attitude of the Anam Cara book, adopt the persona of Cara Loft and embrace this plethora of materials for their potential, their creativity and inspiration. Archiving is about framing the documents housed within their boarders so they can become more accessible, to be readily available, prepared for the just in case moments we may face on our journey as a body through life.

But I digress!!!!!
I guess just to say in a funny round up that I like how the project can open up opportunities for sharing and breaking certain patterns of interaction – so come and surprise me or just talk to me, even if you change or disguise your name on the chat function 😉

So today the Irish lady spoke to me and asked me about what I had found out about myself whilst being in the loft. This made me re-cap the family connections I had uncovered, i.e. photographs of Mabel and Arthur Heines, the Knitmaster, Diana and the photographs of Granddad Elliot. We then went on to read through the Berlin Liar paper found amongst these photographs.

After the Irish Lady had to go I returned to my task for the day which was to make maps of the core questions running through the project. This act was inspired by Sven’s questioning on Wednesday’s broadcast: How much can we share through live art performance practice?. Together we had developed some great mind maps considering how to break down this question and the components involved in sharing through the loft project. I found this technique really useful to re-focus my head about the priorities of the project so I wanted to return to my own fundamental questions of the Instability in Stability project to evaluate my findings so far but also in terms of the archival questions driving the construction and maintenance of the archive.

For today’s broadcast I questioned:

  • What ways can you organise an archive?
  • How can you house an archive?

These questions helped me to define the physical areas of the archive in the loft and to break down the pre-existing sections of the archive and individual collections within these sections. I have developed a series of mind maps to go with these thoughts (photographs to be scanned in shortly). I did not get as far as tackling my own conceptual questions as during my questioning of ways to house the archive, I became obsessed with archive boxes wondering if I had ordered enough! I started to think what materials would fit in what size boxes and to re-question if I had grouped items together in an appropriate manner and/or if I needed to ordered boxes to mirror this categorisation process. By the end of the day though I began to realise that if the sizing and variation of the boxes effects the way I order and group materials then this is part of the itinerancy of the archive and another chapter in the transition of the items through the archive.


The only surviving fragment of today’s conversation documented on the Live Stream Chat Room:

Welcome to the 'theloftproject' room.
Irish lady: :-(
Irish lady: which is exciting but we need to renedez vous
Irish lady: ok ill let you go
Irish lady: xx
TheLoftProject mod: x
TheLoftProject mod: 
TheLoftProject mod: www.dextersinister.org
TheLoftProject mod: wwww.servinglibrary.org
TheLoftProject mod: 
TheLoftProject mod: gone to find a ruler back in a mo!
TheLoftProject mod: back

*note added 25th April 2012

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