The Clockwork Divide by Blaide Lallemand and Conan the Bubbleman. Music composed by Simon Linke. Festival of Contemporary Arts: Currong TheatreSeptember 27-29, October 4-6, 2001, 7pm.
Lallemand is a student of sculpture who has contrasted the ways Aristotle and St Augustine viewed time, with reference to the French philosopher of intuition and 1927 Nobel prizewinner for literature, Henri Bergson. Her work begins with Aristotelian time in linear form, with 3 long pendulums swinging to clockwork music, constraining the movements of her 3 performers: Conan O'Brien, Caroline Huf and herself.
Change in the movement and music takes place in minimalist steps until bubble-making fluid runs down the pendulum strings, into the containers which form the weights. Each pendulum is a double fishing line, which when separated becomes the perimeter of a soap bubble - a flat vertical membrane until moved in air, sometimes with a performer's breath to assist. At times the membrane reflects light, almost hiding a performer from the audience; at others a performer is reflected and distorted. Large unpredictably shaped bubbles form, link performers and burst. A hand slowly moves through the membrane without breaking it.
And so we see time as an original experience of the moment, no longer part of a linear progression; we interpret each image in its own right for its own sake; and we cannot know when an apparently solid form will burst.
Bergson's ideas of "creative evolution" are problematical as New Age adherents use him unreasonably to criticise modern science, but as a source of art he has served Lallemand very well. This is a highly original development of fluid material to form abstract images (O'Brien had to experiment with a new formula to create a strong enough bubble membrane). I certainly felt the immediacy of communication with something universal outside the limits of time, which St Augustine tried to articulate. And, after all, this is what all art is about.
It was interesting, though, to note the need for theatrical closure as we witnessed an effective climax and denouement. Aha, I thought. Unity of action in space and time: we've come full circle back to linearity. So Aristotle wins out in the end. What philosophy from a soap bubble!
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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