“Nocturne” fuses video and live performance in a durational work situated as a gallery installation. In “Nocturne,” audiences encounter a low platform the size of a bed, where a single performer slowly shifts from side to side as if in restless sleep. A video projection adjacent to the platform displays a “live feed” of the performer, but a second body appears with her. This virtual body slowly shifts and rolls in response to the live performer’s movements. A meditation on absence and loss, the piece aims to capture a somatic understanding of the memory of another. The quotidian becomes the content in a work that relies on the digital to represent the imaginary.
Here, the choreography of sleeping becomes a writing of longing. The particularities of the weight of our own bodies and their movements are exchanged like silent words. Through a casual intimacy that cycles through rolling and stillness, the piece tracks the traces of the body, imagining the marks it leaves, and the memory of someone else’s movements. A foot scratching a knee causes the virtual performer to shift her head. It embodies the exchange of movement and gesture across bodies, from the imagined to the real, from the virtual to the present. The piece looped every 40 minutes, shifting between soloists continuously in a durational performance that lasted three hours.
The choreography of “Nocturne” matched the cyclical quality of sleeping—a performer sits with the audience on low pillows, enters and lies down, slowly begins shifting and rolling, then exits as the next performer starts. The durational nature of the piece allowed the audience to encounter and absorb it in their own time. At first, the image might appear erotic, but shifts to a more ordinary intimacy, and then, to something quiet and meditative. The structure rewarded the audience for staying with it—what seemed improvised was a repeated pattern. Bodies of different genders and shapes repeated the movements, revealing the idiosyncrasies of their embodiment.
It attempts to represent the way that the body always contains multiples—all of the layers of our past experiences, the impact of the way someone once touched us, the memory of perceiving a lover turning over when we wake up, the body we inhabited last week, and the one that we move with now.
A second version of the work was also installed at 6018NORTH in Chicago, IL as part of the group show entitled Home: Public or Private? curated by Tricia van Eck in October 2012. Scheduled performances appeared throughout the exhibition.