ANY SIZE MIRROR IS A DICTATOR
PANOPLY PERFORMANCE LABORATORY / ESTHER NEFF, BRIAN MCCORKLE // DREARY SOMEBODY / LINDSEY DRURY
“Any Size Mirror is a Dictator” was a process-based dance-opera that problematized reflective methodologies for analyzing, experiencing, constructing, and learning “culture.” Dominant throughout contemporary Western anthropology, philosophy of mind and other fields, reflective theories construct “culture” using formal processes towards understanding, diagramming, containing, reflecting, modelling and mirroring. Within euro-centric hegemony, these processes derived from Platonian paradigms for the interpretation of reality, project and produce our very selves. “Any Size Mirror is a Dictator” (ASMiaD) exploited language-forms, scoring systems, dramaturgy and symbolic interactionism as bridges between performance and reflective theories, translating theory directly into performative processes via the artistic methodologies developed in context with them:
1.) attempts in opera and dance to construct Total Art (Gesamptkunstwerk) as analogy for colonialist conceptions of culture(s) and
2.) attempts of relational aesthetics and anthropology to model social interactions.
These two aesthetic attempts shared with reflective theory a reliance on fundamental models for how culture can be understood, including Theatrum Mundi (world-as-theater and vice versa), production-based cultural ecology/economy models, biology and total reductions of meaning-making to formal process.
Two teams of performers created functional strategies to reveal failures and problematics in methodologies and approaches, emphasizing conceptual conflicts and communication paradoxes situated within social performance. The first team, a “rehearsive” cast of performers, used the opera book, 41+ fragments of text, learned choreographic directives and tasks, objects, substances, and hours of through-written music. The performance of this material failed to make itself into an auto-poetic object comprising many smaller objects and failed in its attempts to close itself aesthetically around nothing but itself. Suffering became the consequences of desires to communicate accurately, efficiently, productively, or empathetically. ASMiaD also failed to become a work of “Totally Relational Art” and the “success” of any dedicated attempts to “accurately reflect” auto poetic cultural components, including definably cause-and-effect (Totally Relational) relationships, was “successfully” unconfirmed. The second team, a “recursive” cast, refracted the material of the first team’s rehearsed opera through a lens of analysis, explication, and contextualization derived from their own enculturated methodologies. The three dictators continued to reform processes and attempt to direct and define culture using their subjective systems, causing transparent and intentional collapse into dictatorial (fascistic) performance-forms.