Connected (aka Face to a Name) was a project developed between myself and Suzanne Stevens for the Monash Centre for Theatre and Performance in 2011.

It emerged from an argument we had based around my (then) lack of Facebook and Suz’s increasing use of it alongside Suzanne’s unwavering desire to create a hologram onstage. Suzanne’s idea was to have a live/present/physical body playing against/beside a hologram, but due to technical and temporal constraints this never came to fruition.

While I was trying to figure out how to make a holographic-style moving image with a single fixed projector and no 3-D imaging software (it can be done, just not with the resources we had available), Suz interviewed a couple of friends (the piece was only a short one) about their personal experiences with Facebook and our investigation became more concerned with shifting notions around presence, absence and intimacy in relation to online/offline interactions.

We watched the two hours of collected footage and cut it in half. Following this, we entered the theatre-space and projected what we had onto both the drop-down projector and the back wall, and started to move around according to whatever content resonated with us.

The Space – and the theatre techs

With a lot of back-and-forth, Suz and I carved out a narrative of sorts (in terms of the recorded content) and simultaneously developed a score for our physical movements. There were a few touch-points where our actions became solidly choreographed (and the addition of music really helped with our overall timing), but everything in between those points was intentionally left open so we could react more-or-less organically within each performance.

Throughout the final piece, we switched between the single drop-down projector and the back wall of the space. We also adopted a couple of physical props (for me, a pair of glasses and for Suz a coffee mug) that aligned us with the folks in the video. At no point did the physically present performers speak aloud: the conversation existed between the bodies in space and the images on screen, and the overall performance became a conversation between us and the audience.

In retrospect, it would have been great to record the performance but in keeping with a traditional (and ongoing) notion of the ephemerality and non-reproducibility of live theatre within another medium, that was something we failed to do. We did however make a very detailed document describing not only the specifics of the performance but also our affective perceptions within the performance itself. Unfortunately, after lending it to a colleague we were informed that the document had been “misplaced”.  Four years on, and we still bemoan the loss of that piece of documentation.

What does exist is the final version of the video itself as well as a brief interview with Suz and myself about the making of Connected.


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