The idea of making Echo as a piece of Research emerged from the development of Practice as Research in the Arts as a discipline. This was fostered by the AHRC Research Review in Practice-Led Research in Art, Design and Architecture (2007).
This led to the foundation of Parip (Practice as Research in Performance) – see here – a five year programme from 2001 – 2005, which inspired a range of further initiatives, including the development of PhD’s in practice as research, and in particular, the AVPhD (Audio Visual PhD). In May 2008, I organised the Research Connections to Practice AVPhD (Audio Visual PhD) Regional Workshop, for South Wales and the West of England In 2003, This helped me consider Echo as a piece of research, which had to be more than just a piece of film practice, but needed to claim a “contribution to knowledge” and to be situated within a research context with research objectives. Whilst the installation and the website which documents the process can be seen as the results of the research, the following is a summary of research objectives made in response to the call for papers from the Journal of Media Practice in 2009:-
1 Key research aims or questions
• What happens to film drama when it is presented in a gallery?
• What is the relationship between narrative, interactivity, sound and image?
• How can issues of performativity be dramatised through the story of Echo and Narcissus?
2 Methods, including significant relations such as those between form, idea, and technologies.
• Performative, iterative practice in film-making, including dramaturgy workshops with actors, rehearsal with multiple projection, sound design.
• Feedback both informal and formal from spectators, contributors and curators.
• Feedback from contributors and collaborators
• Feedback from audiences.
3 Contexts: locating the work in the contexts of significant points of reference (intellectual, aesthetic, creative, technological, personal, historical, etc)
• Performativity. Work of Judith Butler (1997) The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection USA, Stanford University Press,
• Psychoanalysis. Joan Copjec (1994) Read my Desire: Lacan against the Historicists Cambridge Massechussetts, October Books: MIT Press.
• Expanded Cinema. Martin Rieser and Andrea Zapp (2002) editors, New Screen Media Cinema/Art/Narrative UK, British Film institute
4 The audio-visual screen work itself: aesthetics, themes, positions, issues
A multi-screen (5) expanded cinema work of “Echo and Narcissus”
• Theme. The performativity of discourse and the difficulty and necessity of achieving effective agency and love when overcoming trauma. Echo and Narcissus are frozen, captured by their images and sounds, the piece enables the spectator to “love” Echo and Narcissus and to choose (with an element of randomness) different endings to their story.
• Aesthetics. Greek/medieval theatre style, for narrative exposition, and also for a way of negotiating a post modern gallery space using sound and image, which has historic precedent.
Video art influenced by Bill Viola, where spectators interact with Echo and Narcissus and their technological representation. John Adams “Hindsight” (2004) for gallery film drama. Humphry Trevelyan “Iranian Journey” (2003) for gallery multiscreen film. Interactive element consisting of a combination of montage techniques and sampling from web cams and outside sources, linking the mythic story to the present world of images and simulacra. Audience generation of images and sounds through triggers. Alternative endings and narrative loops.
• Position. The piece is positioned within a post-modern, non-essentialist feminist reading of subjects spoken and misspoken by discourse.
5 Outcomes: key reflections, reception
Installation, documentation in terms of a web blog.
6 Dissemination (information on public exhibition)
Blog and articles. Publication in DVD Screenworks. Performance at The Riverfront Gallery Newport, 4th – 11th November 2012. Website echondnarcissus.co.uk/
7 Other comment on criteria for evaluation
• Exploration and innovation in expanded cinema.
• Appropriateness of form and content.
• Exploration of agency and narrative
• Creativity of meeting brief.
Publications on Echo
2012. Echo. Interactive movie. ScreenWorksVolume III. The online peer reviewed publication of practice belonging to Journal of Media Practice. Intellect, London, June 2012. http://jmpscreenworks.com/?pid=houtman Accessed 30/01/2013.
2011. “Adventures in Remediation: The Making of Echo” in Digital Creativity, Vol 22:4, Taylor and Francis: Routledge, UK.