In my introduction, I spoke about the “stage”. The “stage” – as a space, however, can have many meanings. In academia, one might say that the classroom or lecture hall is the stage; and in the hospital, a doctor might consider the operating room to be his or her stage. With this notion, I recognize the stage as a moving a mental construct. In writing this reconsideration of sorts, I wanted to better understand the way a space preconditions specific bodies and actions.
Its worth noting however, that I tried to avoid writing this response in a concrete manner because, to me, the physical realm of the stage is less important than the sets of meanings which it produces. To illustrate this – I’ve attached a photo below of the last stage I played a concert on; if you ask me today what space comes to my mind when I hear the word “stage” – it would be the space you see here. However, if you had asked me that same question a day before that same show – I would have surely considered another space which meant something to me at that distinct time.
In referencing Henri Lefebvre and Merleau-Ponty, Sarah Ahmed discusses this relationship between space and action, stating that “the space of the study is shaped by a decision (that this room is for this kind of work), which itself then “shapes” what actions “happen” in that space” (52). In focusing upon the concert stage – it is a space designed for a select few individuals to play music for a larger mass of individuals. The space is created for this purpose and is quite different then the stage in a Theatre for example. In understanding this, I immediately thought about a story one of my audio engineering friends had told me; he was recently asked to control the live audio for a dance show in the same bar which I played a show in last week (above picture). He told me about how awkward the show was because the space simply wasn’t meant for dancing, an activity which, in most cases, is better suited to a completely different type of stage. The result was a group of uncomfortable dancers whose lacklustre performance failed to resonate with an audience that was equally uncomfortable in the misused space.
I also found it interesting to look at the work of CRESSON, the Centre de Recherche sur l’Espace Sonore et l’Environnement Urbain and compare their architectural approach to the design of a stage and music venue. A professor, J.J. Delétré mentions that “sonic quality is not a parameter ready to be programmed and conceptualized” when considering architecture and building practices (1), however I must somewhat disagree in that the recording studio and music venue might qualify as exceptions to that generalization. Keeping in mind Ahmed’s notion of how the space predefines actions – any recognized music venue has put a significant amount of effort into creating an acoustically-sound environment and an appropriately sized and placed stage. I won’t get in to the details of how this accomplished because it would take another entire blog post, however, every aspect of the space is often considered.
The objects in the space are just as important; Ahmed states how an object “also provides a space, which itself is the space for action, for certain kinds of work” (55). The old rug placed on the stage is waiting for a drum set to be sat on top of it and the amplifiers are waiting to be plugged in and played out of.
Perhaps my final project might subtly touch upon the borders of this space? Along the lines of the Dancing group I discussed, failing to impress the audience in the bar – maybe I could use this preconditioned space – the stage – to perform what Guy Debord describes as a “détournement” and to further study the audience’s preexisting expectations and their post-“performance” reaction.
Ahmed, Sara. (2006) Queer Phenomenology Ch. 1: Orientations Towards Objects, section “Inhabiting Spaces” (51-63). Durham: Duke University Press.
Debord, Guy. (1959) ‘Détournement as Negation and Prelude’, Bureau of Public Secrets.
Delétré, Jean-Jacques. (1995) How to integrate the sonic quality to architectural design… Florence (Italie), Alinea (1-8) (http://doc.cresson.grenoble.archi.fr/opac/doc_num.php?explnum_id=297)