John Court & Mark Roberts
8-Hour performance with live sound
‘Working Space / Surface Time’ is an eight-hour performance with live sound which carries out an intense investigation of a specific, local space and time. Working within a defined and limited space, John Court slowly rotates, twists and contorts his body over an eight-hour period, while Mark Roberts uses sounds generated by Court’s movements to create a live soundtrack.
About the performance
It has been argued that the vast distances that once limited global movement have now collapsed into our everyday, local spaces. Today, we are able to immerse ourselves in events taking place around the globe as they happen – on television, on the Internet and even on our mobile phones. Paul Virilio argues that this collapse of space has resulted in a reduction of the importance of movement; that is has made the body insignificant.
However, even with the world available in our living rooms, we remain firmly rooted in a specific locality – our homes, our offices, our towns and cities – places which we often hardly know. In their performance ‘Working Space / Surface Time’, John Court and Mark Roberts interrupt this condensation of space and time by taking a segment of time familiar to many people – the 8-hour working day – and spreading it thin.
Court’s slow movements are an attempt to fully engage with a finite space, to investigate it’s every permutation. It is as if he slows down time to reveal something from within space itself – as if he is showing something which has been missed in our everyday rush to get things done. Court has described his intentions as trying ‘to be in space instead of trying to bring something into space.’ In effect, Court is dramatically over-emphasizing the here, and stretching the now.
Mark Roberts has attached contact microphones to the underside of the wooden platform on which Court performs, picking up the microscopic sounds of every miniscule movement he makes. His role in the performance extends the limited space in which Court performs to include the larger area in which the performance takes place – be it a gallery or other location. Roberts processes the sounds and projects them back into the space from a series of loudspeakers placed around the room. In this way, the audience are themselves drawn into the circle inscribed by Court, or to put it another way, Court’s working space is extended to include the audience. A swirling, ghostly soundtrack comprised of the scrapes, creaks and whispers circles around the room, emphasizing every movement Court makes, amplifying the grandeur of movement and, as a consequence, the emotional relationship of the viewer with the work.