Making Salt

(The performance)

Presented at the ISEA '98
(InterSociety for Electronic Arts) symposium,
Manchester, U.K., September 1998

A performance by
Gaudi Hoedaya, Sarah Buist and Sonja van Kerkhoff.

Still from the video projection
at the back of the lecture theatre.

Making Salt   was created for a presentation at an electronic media symposium with the theme of "Terror". The terror of the information age, to us, meant the shapeless super-abundance of information itself. We decided to use salt in our presention-performance, as a metaphor for sifting information from the sea, and to remember Gandhi's stroke of genius. He used 'making salt' as an act of symbolic defiance to the British authorities who had monopolised its production and sale in India. So he marched to the sea, and made salt.

A few of the boards and texts with a detail of the video projection on the back wall.

We wanted to ground our performance concerning this information age on something as ordinary as salt. A necessity of life, crystallised out of the formless sea by the act of (selection) filtering.

Our space for the performance began at the two entrances of a lecture theatre. Sarah Buist and Gaudi Hoedaya stood at each entrance and welcomed and ushered people into the centre space towards the back of the theatre. This forced the audience to sit next to each other and to sit behind me. I sat at a keyboard about halfway up the rows of the seats, waiting. I focussed on my texts, trying to let them be part of me rather than just memorise them.

The morning of september 5th:
Gaudi with a dry run of the projections.

The doors closed and the video started. Sarah's images of a pair of hands, projected on the wall, formed the letters
'r-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n' in letter by letter in sign language. It was not only our introduction but also a moment of silence and a reference to the theme of the other half of the ISEA symposium in Liverpool titled, "Revolution".

As the video projection on the front wall started, I began to type and each letter appeared in stacatto sequence in white across five small boards between me and the front of the lecture theatre.

The words started to fade when the text moved to the next panel and by the time the fifth panel was filled with text, the new text now typed in the first panel seemed to write over the now near invisible old text and so on for the all the panels.
Passages were also literally 'filtered' with some letters or words missing the ends of the boards, appearing either small over the video on the back wall they were obscured by the panels' shadows.
In the discussion after the performanc someone made the comment that the filtered texts were more or less legal depending on where you sat. Another expressed frustration at not being able to read all the texts because she sat so far to right of the panels.

The text began with:

"The air is never vacant" she sighed.

I listened with folded arms and inhaled the salty air.

Lyotard didn't trust names, and everyday I discover more and more names. Names on the move.

Cum grano salis.

While Sonja typed the 'filtered' texts to do with our senses, history, politics, the spirit, science, and culture, Sarah and Gaudi poured salt into the palms of those seated at the end of the rows and asked them to pass this on.

This performance combined textural and visual references to the process of filtering where everyone was left with salt on their hands.

View of the back projection with just two of the panels.

While working on the concept for this performance Gaudi and I discovered that rather than terror, we felt we were living in exciting times. For both of us, the world offered more possibilities than ever before and we wanted an approach that combined the poetic with the playful.

For us the postmodern world
is a world of possibility.

Related work

>> Prints overview    Making Salt: performance    Arranged by Medium    A tour via thumbnail images