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In-Finite at Rich Mix [Review]

By admin Posted on: March 17th, 2013

Charlotte Goodhart is 23 studying Museum Studies at UCL and interested in the way that cultural organisations communicate with their audiences, through exhibition, engagement and digital marketing. She tweets @CharGoodhart

Having absolutely no experience or knowledge of contemporary dance, I was intrigued about what a night with IJAD would entail. All I knew prior to the night was that they are based in London, that use mutlimedia approaches throughout their performances and will let me tweet while I’m actually watching.

The event was held at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green on the 8th March and the venue was perfect, as a space that holds a variety of different cultural, musical and other events regularly. On the night itself, we entered the space by lift in groups of ten and came straight into the dancers and the performance space. The room resembled something out of a very surreal dream, or at least a Tim Burton film. Spools of plastic were scattered and hung around the room, looking like the innards of cassette tapes, whilst the lights, which were low, flickered: first impressions, very eerie but very intriguing. At the front of the room, a majestically dressed performer was reading out secrets that had been submitted prior to the event by 100 strangers. These varied from the obvious ‘I stole from the corner shop when I was 10 and I’ve never stopped feeling guilty about it’ to the more extreme, something about poisoning your dog with Class A drug. This only added to the intimate, spooky atmosphere and I couldn’t help but that I had secretly snuck into someone else’s unconscious whilst they slept.

Meanwhile, at the back of the room there was a screen, where tweet deck was showing everything being said on twitter about the performance. At first it was obvious that people involved in the performance were just trying to keep numbers up, by tweeting about the room itself, or how the dancers looked. But within about ten minutes, as the guests relaxed, the page became a flurry of messages, thoughts and feelings and as you looked round the room, almost all the faces were lit by their phones, as they typed away. In what worked as a wonderful contrast to the intimiate intensity of the secrets, we were all viewing a different performance; our own livetweeting.

It was a strange experience, it felt rude to get my phone out and write about what I was seeing rather than watching it. But is this much different to what we do on a day-to-day basis? Most twitter pages, regardless of who owns them, read like an internal monologue. Sure, some are more interesting than others, I would probably rather read the twitter of a journalist whose life centres around keeping people up to date with what’s happening, than that of a 15 year old in a small town near Birmingham whose priorities are boozing and avoiding school work. But if you strip away what they’re writing, the intention is the same, to broadcast what’s on your mind. So it was a novel experience to literally live tweet what we were seeing. And it clearly wasn’t just me who enjoyed it.

There’s a huge preoccupation with turning off your phone when you enter a cultural space, be it an exhibition, a museum or a play. And it’s true that it can be very distracting for others, particularly if you’re in the cinema or if you have a godawful ringtone that keeps going off in an exhibition.

However, visiting an exhibition, or watching a play is an experience that you will interpret and understand in a way totally different to another viewer. Being able to look up other people’s thoughts on what you’ve just seen is fascinating and might make you look at something in a totally different way. So long as you aren’t disturbing someone else’s experience, using your phone to tweet about your experience actually does a lot more good than it is harm. I certainly felt it softened my introduction to contemporary dance. Lets start a conversation, open it up, debate and say what we really mean. And please, when I enter the space, let me turn on my phone!

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