Currently, we are living in the “authenticity searching” era where people seek out authenticity in the digital world and at the same time claim that they are the authentic ones. But how does one know what or the better question who is truly authentic?
This experimental performance project is created to portray that there is no such a thing as everyone’s truth. My truth might not be your truth and yours might not be mine, no matter how hard we try to convince everyone else to believe in what we believe is true. That is because the criteria that we use to measure the authenticity are our past experiences, our perspectives, our environments, and ourselves.
Thus, do you believe what we have written above is true?
My inspiration for this project is from the movie Rashomon(1950), a Japanese film from a Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. I remember being surprised by how mysterious I got from this movie. After watching this movie since I was 20, I still find Rashomon to be a beautiful and interesting movie. The director used the quality of the cinema to examine the nature of truth and the darker side of human nature. Rashomon is a story of telling a story of a crime which happened in a small village in Japan. The crime was a death of a samurai and in this movie, you will see 4 characters, a bandit, samurai’s wife, samurai ghost and a woodcutter, telling 4 different stories of the same event. The admitted that she was the one who killed the samurai while someone blamed others. Who would you believe? And who do you think was guilty and deserve to be executed?
For my very first time watching this movie, I was only focusing on finding a killer. I tried to guess and argue with my friends a lot of weather who killed the samurai. Five years later, I watched it again and now I saw something else. I saw that the intention of the writer and the director were not to let their audiences investigate weather who was the killer but they really want to show the darker side of human as well as to examine the nature of truth.
Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing (Akira Kurosawa, 1950) This statement from the director was very strong yet have been encouraging me to research more about truth. Up until now, my searching is still continuing. I have found some but I do not know if it is a true definition of truth or just opinions from their perspectives.
Not only Rashomon inspired me to do this experimental project but its influence can also be seen in media nowadays as you can see in a lot of movies or cartoon or even TV series where the shows character flashbacked and tell you different options of the same event. For example, GONE GIRL (2014), HOODWINKED! (2005), PREDESTINATION (2014), COURAGE UNDER FIRE (1996) etc. These contemporary examples have contradictory versions of the same event through multiple viewpoints shows the versatility of truth and the power of individual perception.
From all works and literature review, the most concept that captured my interest as well as inspired me the most is from The Social Construction of Reality book by Peter L. Berger, Thomas Luckmann. This book is talking about the concept of social reality which believes that humans can not directly perceive the truth, but it must be done through the medium, senses and human’s perceptions which have been constructed by social. Therefore, what human believe is true is a world that has been created and interpreted to a certain degree.
This experimental project began with a question How could we trust what we see now in everyday life when ordinary people with mobile cameras could be like a powerful media house? While a story of pictures or video could be distorted just a blink of an eye by just change its caption. I started this experiment by telling my classmates that I was going to show them 3 different photos and told different stories one photo by one photo. But actually what I did was I told contradictory versions of the same photo.
After finished this experimental I found out that most of the people allow truth to be inside a small frame of picture or video. We never knew what is outside the frame or even what happened before or after recording. So I decided to create an experimental live performance where I invited audiences to witness it from the beginning of the performance until the end.
I would like to show different perspectives on this storytelling to audiences. Therefore, there will be a 360-degree stage in the middle and 4 groups of seat organized in 4 directions. The performance will run exactly the same in four rounds. Audiences would be asked to rotate themselves to another direction. There will be a screen in each direction showing different story captions except the last direction where audiences will face the performance without any caption.
I have tried this interface with some of my friends, unfortunately, it turned out that audience didn’t want to be rotated to another direction too often.
Winterwerkschau Exhibition, February 2018
So I tried to minimize my first idea but still keeping the main message about examining the nature of truth and portray perspectives of human from a story of a girl frustrated on finding and building her truth. Truth is something very subjective so in this performance, I intended to find some object that can represent the truth. After I had been searching for some time, I decided to represent different sizes of boxes as truth because to me, the truth is something very straight and precise in every way just so the box. The most important thing is when you stack different size of boxes up and put one edge together you will see how straight and precise the boxes are from one perspective, but from other perspectives, it will be like a mess just like the concept of truth and human perspective.
At first, I wanted the LEDLight-emitting diode screen background to be just only white color. But while we were rehearsing I tried to look for interesting sounds to play along with the performance and after I watched the playback I found out that what was going on on the background LEDLight-emitting diode screen was very interesting. It was the same context of frustrated on finding something, so I chose to do live google searching for truth along with the performance. The live searching had no plan and no keywords I just typed “truth” and then let Google take me to somewhere.
- Wrapping boxes were something that I should not do in this performance as it was so distracting and can also give other meaning to audiences. - Using only one actress was not strong enough to send the core message of this performance to audiences. - The performance might look a bit too old fashion and need more interesting idea to add into the performance, for example, interesting technology like VR, movement tracking system etc. to make the statement of this performance stringer. - I have to consider more about the quality for the video. At first, I have no idea that I can borrow a good quality camera from our facuty, so I have to use my low-quality one.
From all the idea I have been developing in this experimental project, I will keep it as a metaphor to develop it further in the future. As well as mistakes I have made, I would take it as a learning and adapt it to my next step.