virus: Re: sociological change

Ken Pantheists (
Wed, 27 Nov 1996 22:10:48 +0000

Richard Brodie asked:

For me this is a central question for Church of
Virus. How do we evangelize ethically?

I think you make art. Art is really the most accessible form of prophecy
and evangelism.

You really need to engage people's imaginations and get them to play
with a new paradigm before they will find use for it in their "real"

I am looking at your question through my fine-focussed lens of an arts
educator and I can see how you need approach people on three sides.

1. Technique- new skills, understanding the basic functions of the
instrument/medium or refining your knowledge of them.

This is a place where the teacher uses level two language to introduce
level three concepts. People will learn things very quickly if presented
to them on a level 2 playing field.

For example-- I just taught a three week workshop where we performed
shakespeare's sonnets. The students memorized them. We discussed the
three part structure of rhetoric. We learned iambic pentameter and
looked up *every* word in th O.E.D. Plus we worked on placement of the
voice for clear articulation. All of these are related to technique.

2. Composition-- application of these new skills to accomplish a set

Hopefully, at this stage of the game, the artist is beginning to think
about the new skills and letting them play upon their subjective
experience. Allowing it to inform their intuition.

I'm not familiar with many other media-- but in the theatre studio, I
like to trick my students and have fun with them. I give them a tennis
ball and ask them to bounce it around the room and tell them that the
central character in the scene is the tennis ball.

Or I'll ask someone to do twenty jumpimg jacks as they do their
monologue and count off like this:
20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 18, 17, 16, 15, 18..... until they've done about
fifty... (I'm a stinker;)

Those are the most basic examples. Other's foreground images and
metaphors that operate in the piece. (I'm not giving those away...
industry secrets;)

The basic idea is that you take what work the student has put into the
piece and find ways of jarring them out of the place where they are
"just re-doing their homework". The should not be thinking about
achieving the perfect composition, but allowing the composition to be a
channel for their imagination. Sometimes it's a real struggle to wrestle
control of the imagination from the part of the brain that just wants to
do it "right".

3. Performance. Playing. Working effortlessly. clarity without struggle.
Inutition and Form shaking hands.

I know it sounds like I have laid out a curriculum for a theatre school
when I suggested to make art.

But I honestly believe that this is the best way to make art-- from the
ground up-- you train the people that you eventually wind up working
with. And they go off and train others.

That's how American Dance happened.

Maybe we could start something like what Oskar Schlemmer started with
the Bauhaus School in Germany?

  Ken Pantheists