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Leet speak has also been an interesting influence on You Have Been Tagged. Leet is an alternative alphabet used online to create a whole new language. The word Leet derives from the word elite and is used in online gaming or hacking to express accomplishment. It consists of symbolic writing and uses the American Standard Code for Information Interchange which replaces the Latinate letters of the English alphabet. For example:
There are variants of Leet as it was predominantly used by online gamers and hackers and has now entered mainstream. I experimented with Leet by changing my facebook language to Leet and there are various articles available explaining how it is a new language used by children and teenagers online as they find it secretive as many parents cannot understand it. Below is a video on the dark side of Leet Speak:
In our performance we experimented with basic Leet Speak in the first scene. As Unknown User/ Jane Smith came down the staircase the other girls would sing and comment upon the singing using Leet Speak such as LOL (laugh out loud) and OMG (Oh My God). This was effective as it created a bombardment of sounds associated with social media. It would have been interesting to understand more complicated Leet Speak for Unknown User and the Administrator as hackers and those hacked contain different versions of Leet Speak. This therefore would have distinguished the characters audibly as well as visually.
For the purpose of this blog I interviewed two audience members. One who had a blue profile and the other who had a red profile.
I asked them four questions and they responded as follows;
Overall, how did you find your experiences as an audience member at You’ve been tagged?
Blue Profile audience member: “I really enjoyed it, I kind of got everything that you were trying to do. It was interesting to look at, I didn’t get bored seeing as we were standing around for a long time. Because of all of the visuals you had and the interlinking stories, I found it really interesting to watch”.
Red Profile audience member: “It were really enjoyable, I like the way that you executed your multimedia , I understood the story and how it were portrayed within a nightclub, it was executed so well it should have been a Chinese film”
What was your favourite part of the performance/ room?
Blue Profile audience member: “I think my favourite room was the room after we went in the VIP section we went into the other smaller room, there was a bidding war on the different actresses that were part of the performance, but it was all linked towards the cyber references that you included. On the screen you had peoples profiles coming up, and you did a lot of audience participation, I thought that worked really well”.
Red Profile audience member: “ I quite enjoyed the dancing and the selling of the computer programs”.
What profile were you given, did you like the route that you went down in the performance and what was your own experience?
Blue Profile audience member: “I was the blue profile, so we got to stay and watch the dancing that was on the screen, and I thought that was really good because obviously the way you’d edited the multimedia was excellent, certain characters were still still around, it felt like we as blue profile were still seeing the main characters perform as they were on a screen in front of us. I really liked the element where the characters were deactivated. I was happy that I didn’t go down to the basement because I don’t like small spaces”.
Red Profile audience member: “My profile was red and I went down into a dark basement, it was dark and scary. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed how well executed it was, and how well rehearsed it looked”.
If there was anything that we could have changed in the performance to make it better for you as an audience member, what would that have been?
Blue Profile audience member: “ The only thing that could have been changed was the fact that you couldn’t always hear what people were saying. But because of the environment the performance was in, which wasn’t a normal performance space, it counteracted it. Maybe being connected to microphone would have dealt with that issue. Otherwise I thought everything went really well. The storyline was very good and very imaginative, the tech aspects were very innovative, overall I thoroughly enjoyed the performance!”.
Red Profile audience member: “I think that you should have taken the people with the blue counter downstairs to the cellar, and the people with the red counters back upstairs so that both audience divides saw all aspects of the performance”
From the information I gathered from these interviews it is clear that our performance came across as enjoyable and our multimedia ‘well executed’. The two audience members stated that their favourite rooms were the Spam room and the auction that took place within it. Though in contrast, the fact that the audience members ‘couldn’t always hear’ what was being said means that if we were to perform again we would focus on the projection of our dialogue.
In addition, the idea that the red profile audience member wanted the audience to see ‘all aspects of the perfomance’ means that we could consider changing our end section so that this becomes possible.
The interviews were given to Sarah Roberts and Jordon Chalmers, both drama students at The University of Lincoln.
According to Glen Ward, Postmodernism ‘is most fruitfully viewed as a variety of perspectives on our contemporary situation.’ (1997, p.4). One of these perspectives that is explored in contemporary performance, is this cultural loss of identity. One of the main influneces on the piece, for me, was two paragraph’s from an essay I wrote in Febuary 2012;
‘Another common notion of postmodernism that is explored in contemporary performance is a cultural loss of identity. As Glen Ward states ‘There are many sides to the unfolding story of postmodern identity, but if there is one central theme, it is that the self is fundamentally social’ (1997 p.105). He agrees with Baudillard’s theory that, ‘we can experience the world only through a kind of filter of preconceptions and expectations fabricated in advance by a culture swapped by images’ (Ward 1997, p.60). It is these images that affect the metropolis with all these contrasting notions of identity becoming distorted and fragmented through the infiltration of the mass media into the fabric of our society, ‘in place of the serious modernist search for the deep authentic self’ (Ward 1997, p.108). Photographer Cindy Sherman, ‘self – consciously enacts the repetitions through which, identity is produced and changed demonstrating identity’s performativity’ (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.135), in her 1977-1980 work ‘Untitled film stills’. Her staged images of female stereotypes from film and television ‘shows that culture provides a multitude of images and that the ability to combine these into new configurations creates a ‘play of signs’ in which you can construct an empowering sense of individuality’ (Ward 1997, p.123). But with women being able to carry a multitude of identities with them through the postmodern culture, ‘did the very multiplicity of images suggest that herself was a multiple of fragmented’ (Ward 1997, p.121). Her work in effect explores the postmodernist ideal of performance in everyday life, that ‘people are not simply being, they are performing, both consciously and subconsciously’ (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.151).
The Performance artist Orlan, takes the ideas of Sherman’s work, but takes it a step further as ‘she alters her own body and uses multimedia technology to explore and create new mediated and performative definitions of identity’ (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.59). In her 1990-1993 key piece Reincarnation of Saint Orlan, she staged herself on a live feed in galleries and online, having plastic surgery to ‘alter her face to incorporate features from famous works of art … Orlan was not trying to make herself a static image of ideal beauty’ (Allain and Harvie 2006, p.111). Instead, with Orlan’s ‘use of cosmetic surgery as a medium for artistic expression, she amplifies the social pressures on women to conform to a narrowly defined, patriarchal standards of beauty … her work exposes the violence of these beauty standards’ (Faber 2007, p.118). The postmodernist aesthetic of using body art to challenge the fragmentation and manipulation of identity in our society, allows ‘her art to dissolve distinctions between subject and object, author and work, in and through her transformations of her own body as a work of art within a framework’ (Faber 2007, p.120). With the fragmentation of her work and how it is documented, defuses this notion of “high” and “low” art in a postmodernist culture, effectively destroying the Modernists’ secularisations of what art is. This can be seen with Orlan’s work, by making it available on the internet, and letting people speak to her via a newsfeed whilst she is performing. This has been able to be achieved as the internet has become a more contemporary postmodernist performance platform to reach the masses, which allows artists to continually exchange and create an open – ended performance and dialogue with their audience’ (Britten 2012, p6-7).
These paragraphs really helped to inform our performance in a more theoretical concept, especially shaping our ‘characters’ or ‘alias’ to adopt in performance. We decided to follow through on the influence and dominance of Social Media which means that in our Postmodern society, our virtual prescence is more important than our real prescence.This is reflected in the characters we portrayed being exaggerated stereotypical personalities, with a Geisha, English Eccentric, L.A. Detective from the 50’s, and a French Maid. We wanted to show how the internet can be a dangerous place for the postmodern indivdiual, due to the society becoming more fragmented through the loss of our identities, we have become disillusioned to ourselves, aswell as a society that surrounds us.
In today’s society, especially in our generation, if you aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, TumblR, MySpace, etc, or don’t have some sort of virtual presence, then it is like you do not exist. No-one will remember your birthday, you won’t be invited out, you will be socially excluded.’
By Rebecca Britten.
Allain, Paul and Jen Harvie (2006) The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance, London and New York: Routledge.
Britten, Rebecca (2012)‘Consider and discuss the relationship between contemporary performance and the notion of postmodernism. Include in your discussion detailed reference to at least two of the practioners studied on the course, and at least two of the key theorists.’ Lincoln School of Performing Arts: Lincoln.
Faber, Alyda (2007) ‘Saint Orlan: Ritual as Violent Spectacle and Cultural Criticism’ in Henry Bial’s (ed.) The Performance Studies Reader, London and New York: Routledge.
Ward, Glen (1997) Teach Yourself Postmodernism?, London: Hodder and Stoughton.
After several haphazard discussions with multiple ideas floating about, the group is approaching an idea which has started to stick. We all like the idea of exploring the construction and also loss of identity through social networks. This draws together the notion of the performance of the everyday and the use of modern technology, which were strong themes that we all identified as an interest from the start. It stemmed from an idea I mentioned which highlighted how
in todays society, especially in our generation, if you aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, TumblR, MySpace, Linked In, Bebo, FlickR, etc. or don’t have some sort of virtual presence, then you pretty much don’t exist. No-one will remember your birthday, you won’t be invited out, you will be socially excluded.
This is an exaggeration of course, however it is not too far from reality for some. As university students, we know firsthand what the pressure is to keep updated online, for having group discussions, planning nights out and other events, or for finding work and creating an online profile to market yourself, (a specific example for drama students is the performing arts union Equity, as a drama student joint with media I know that Linked In is something that we are also encouraged to join). At any rate we are being pushed online more and more in order to grow our networks to increase our opportunities, and the globe is at our fingertips, oceans are no longer barriers to us and the ‘glocalised’ era is upon us.
There is a slight, teensy, weency little problem though. As our time spent online increases, our time and attention spent in the ‘real world’ is diminishing gradually. I can hold my hands up and say I am guilty for walking around on a beautiful day and my focus being completely glued to my iPhone in my hand, barely aware of my surroundings. It’s scarily zombie-like…
So what is happening to our actual bodies?! Our true identities?! Where do we draw the line. Sure you can be whoever you want to be online, you can be several people even! But at what cost?