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Interview: Cathy Blisson about Sometimes I Think I Can See You (France)

Artist Mariano Pensotti has recently presented his performance Sometimes I Think I Can See You in the Parisian suburbs. Pensotti’s performance is presented in France after having toured several countries.
In collaboration with local authors, Pensotti has the writers describe the passengers at train or subway stations and imagine their thoughts or invent possible lives for them as they try to identify each other in the stories displayed in giant screens.
In France, Cathy Blisson, Arnaud Cathrine, Vincent Delerm, Loo Hui Phang et Jeanne Truong
executed the performance at the train station Val-d’Europe, on December 27-8, 2012 for Dépayz’arts festival.
I’ve asked author Cathy Blisson a few questions about her experience as a performer.

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How did it feel to leave the intimacy and safety of your studio to write surrounded by viewers dissecting your writing in real time?
It felt very strange at first, I was quite nervous about it ! The idea was to keep a constant flow of words on the screen, and interact with reality — improvisation, in a word. No time to process the information and dwell on possible choice of words ; needless to say, editing isn’t an option. But such live writing was also an exciting challenge, with great reward when people realized they became the characters of short stories, and laughed it off. Mariano Pensotti calls it “subtitling reality”, seeing the writers as “litterary surveillance cameras”. He often works on how fiction affects reality and vice-versa. We will never have a definite answer on the impact our words might have had on the passengers; this real-time writing raised a few questions on the first day, on possibly being, at times, too close to what could be unsettling realities to some people. But above all, it was a very playful experience, especially as we went with the flow, and took more and more liberties toward fiction. Laughter was the most common answer. So, it really didn’t feel like our fleeting writing was being dissected. It kept rolling-up, disappearing after 5 or 6 sentences, and that was the beauty of it.

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Have you done other interdisciplinary collaborations? Could you please tell us one or two valuable points about them?

Yes I have, and I intend to follow them through. Among other experiences, I am taking part in a research lab called Laboratoires de Traverse (http://tramedie.blogspot.fr)
, started by theater director Marine Mane. The idea here is to gather artists from different disciplines including theater, dance, circus, music, and visual arts, as well as academics. For one week, they will pick their brains and experiment with their bodies/medias on a specific theme that might nurture everyone’s research, knowing that there is no obligation to produce. I participate in these labs as an observer, giving participants an outward perpective, as well as sharing thoughts on what is at stakes and how the whole process evolves. Then, I blog about it. The first two labs have proven to be incredibly rich, as every artist brought in some input from a different perspective. I truly believe that this kind of collaborative platforms allowing us to change the perspective on the way we look at things, will help finding leads to renew our practices as far as production and content are concerned. The tricky part is to dodge the market agenda in order to create time and space for them.

Is there something you would like to add about your experience with Sometimes I Think I Can See You?

Well, it was also a way to shed a different set of lights on the theater of our daily environnement/routine. I think it gave a chance to the passengers (and us writers) to look at it from another viewpoint. It will also be interesting to see how it might affect future writings for the authors who played the game !

Photos by Dorothée Duplan

More information about Mariano Pensotti’s work www.marianopensotti.com

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Opie Boero Imwinkelried’s work explores language and technology with a focus on the ancient Roman and Greek worlds in connection with contemporary society. Imwinkelried organizes Dimanche Rouge, an experimental performance art event taking place monthly in Paris, France, and abroad. www.dimancherouge.org Imwinkelried has shown video works at several international venues including the European Media Art Festival (EMAF), Clermont-Ferrand Videoformes, British Film Institute’s London LGBT Film Festival, and NewFest 2008: The New York LGBT Film Festival. Opie’s work is distributed by Frameline. In the realm of video performance, Imwinkelried has performed at venues including Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Nuit Blanche Paris, and La Gaite Lyrique. In addition to the art practice, Opie Boero Imwinkelried is currently teaching at the largest school of architecture in France, the Ecole National Superieur d’Architecture de Paris La Villette (ENSAPLV), and has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo and other institutions. Imwinkelried holds a Master’s from the renown Media Study Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and pursued studies in different fields including law, philosophy, and a doctorate in classical Latin literature as well as a Master’s in classical archaeology. Imwinkelried spoke at Harvard at the ICAC International Classical Archaeology Congress. Imwinkelried was also involved in several research projects including directing the digital data production and publication project at the Old Fort Niagara excavations, researching for the virtual “reconstruction” of the palace of Ashurnasirpal project using ImmersaDesk™/CAVE™, and coding for the digitalization of Dyonisos inscriptions from the Greek corpus. http://www.imwinkel.org http://www.dimancherouge.org http://www.dimancherouge.wordpress.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dimancheRouge Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dimancheRouge Vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/channels/dimancherouge Livestream: http://www.livestream.com/dimancherouge YouTube: http://wwww.youtube.com/dimancheRouge SoundCloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/dimancheRouge Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ti115

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