UBI SUNT 3 THE SWIMMER: Playful Drifting and ‘Spoiled Identities’
The Swimmer is a research-based interdisciplinary video and time-based site-specific conceptual installation/performance/video project that experiments with live video editing projected on screens mounted in pools and underwater sculptures to be used for choreographed dance. As a multi-disciplinary artist, my own embodiment and costuming of characters drawn from feminist screenwriter Eleanor Perry’s archives are presented as a tableux to be deconstructed.
The Swimmer: Playful Drifting and ‘Spoiled Identities’ is a visual exploration of feminist screenwriter Eleanor Perry’s archives. Within the context of how we as users of social media ‘swim’ along with an algorithmic data flow, conflictual sets of data or media are used to construct identities in hypercomplex exchanges of information. The speculative use of video installations at cite-specific exhibition spaces - for example, live scrolling or direct messaging and live-video editing - can be used as visual tools to investigate how social media plays a role in the way we co-construct identity. In the context of these emerging technologies and the #metoo movement, this artistic research project focuses on how multiple understandings of performing masculinity might be researched and given displaced contexts.
Using a central metaphor of the river found in John Cheever’s work ‘The Swimmer’ (1964), the confluence and the assemblage of concepts around identity-making are explored. The water is a medium and a metaphor for deconstruction of the performance of masculinity. John Cheever’s short story ‘The Swimmer’ (1964) and the feminist screen-writer Eleanor Perry’s screen-play (1968) of the same name are two literary and cinematic works that form a starting point for an investigation into 1) the river as a central metaphor for algorithmic influences in identity-making, and 2) how these works can offer new insights into a moment in which performing and visually representing masculinity is in crisis.
Today, we are experiencing a paradigmatic shift in identity politics. The relevance of this artistic research project can be seen through the genesis of the #metoo movement. In the autumn of 2017 the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced and by the summer of 2018 the widespread media coverage and discussion of sexual harassment, particularly in Hollywood, revealed to the world the magnitude of the problem faced. The summer of 2018 also marked the 50-year-anniversary of Eleanor Perry’s screenplay for ‘The Swimmer’ - a film adaptation of Cheever’s 1964 story about Neddy Merrell’s swim home along an imaginary river consisting of a string of suburban swimming pools.
The Swimmer proposes to examine the male body by the pool as a site for sociopolitical speculation. The project challenges earlier assumptions made by for example Marvin Carlson in Performance: A Critical Introduction (2004). The Swimmer project will use video installation and live-video editing and feedback loops (using ATEM Blackmagic instant replay in combination with video installations) to confront the audience with multiple versions of the same body, but with displaced subjectivities. This project sees a more nuanced possibility for the deconstruction of the male body as it is examined within the intersectionality of performance, technology and changing understandings of representations of masculinity.
The project is ongoing, and was first presented in 2018 at Nordnes Sjøbad in cooperation with BiT Teatergarasjen, AdO Arena and Bergen Dansesenter, and Bergen Kommune. Its second iteration UBI SUNT 4 She-Wolf Defaced was presented at BOA, billedkunstnerne i Oslo og Akershus as part of Oslo Art Weekend 2020 and “Oslo City #1” curated by Hedda Ottesen.
Costume Design: Myclef Laun
Makeup: Myclef Laun
Set Design: Myclef Laun
Choreography: Myclef Laun
Script: Myclef Laun
Filming: Myclef Laun, Eirik Hunnes and Thomas Nugent
Technician: Jonas Skarmark
Sound Installations: Myclef Laun
Animated Text editing:
Jonas Skarmark and Myclef Laun
Nordnes Sjøbad, 2018