For my final project for this class, I had analyzed the essay written by Moyra Davey, Notes on Photography and Accident. I also looked at the Situationist movement and the derive method and decided to base my final project on those two works. For the Situationists, I decided to do a performance art that revolved around the derive and how the Situationists would drop their daily routine and go around and explore the scenario around them in an effort to find criticism of the spectacle. I would not criticize the spectacle in my performance piece, but rather use the derive method to explore what is unknown to me. I have always had a sort of wanderlust- growing up in a very small town with an incredibly sheltered household has left me curious about what was on the outside. Even though I have been attending the University of Nevada for three and a half years now, I commuted back and forth from Gardnerville. I never really had a chance to explore the city of Reno or even the University, as I would just go straight home after class. I moved out of my parents’ house in December of 2013 and gained a strong sense of independence. I also had no concept of the “real world” when I moved out so I had to quickly learn how to be in this new environment. I realize that in the big picture, Reno is really not that big of a city, but compared to Gardnerville, it was. This sense of wanderlust and exploration led me to travel to Los Angeles this past summer completely alone and devoid of help from anyone else. While it may have been just a simple trip to attend a concert, I felt that it had helped build character and helped me grow up a little. I also felt a sense of power, as I didn’t rely on help from my family. Anyway, my performance art was this: I wanted to visit the concept of duality and do some urban exploration. I would visit two sites. One would be an area or building that was decrepit and decaying, and the other would be incomplete and in progress, so I felt a construction site would fit this criteria.
For the old, decaying building, my friend and I traveled to Donner Pass. I originally wanted the performance to take place in the old abandoned train tunnel, but due to weather conditions it was unreachable. I settled on an old shack near the Sugar Bowl Resort. I also decided to add an item that represented innocence- a teddy bear. I had acted with a sense of innocence, exploring something that was old and worn. My friend photographed my exploration with the teddy bear included in the photos.
For the construction site, I chose the site right at the University. I chose it not only because it was easily accessible, but also because I felt like I hadn’t explored enough at my own school. I had my friend Brittney help me explore the site. She also took photos of the performance. I also used the teddy bear in the performance, but it was laying face down in the dirt, symbolizing a loss of innocence that I felt when I moved out. It also contrasted the incompleteness and yet to be “born” building.
After hundreds of photos being taken of the performance art, I settled on only two photos, furthering perpetuating the idea of duality and the contrasting concepts of innocence and corruption. In the photos, I was present, but I was facing away from the camera because I didn’t want the performance art to be about me per se, but about the performance art and the exploration itself. I hope that the derive method was evident in the photos, but I think I could have used more photos to show evidence of this. I’m not sure if using two photos did the performance art justice, but I wanted duality to be a strong concept in this piece.
This project has also led me to think a little more about utilizing urban exploration in to future works. This fuels my sense of curiosity about the world around me. I hope to explore different areas other than in the Reno area; next time I would like to explore a different country and document it.