The Last Performance [dot org]

It is recommended that the information here is read in its entirety. However, note that the Lens Writing section contains the basic instructions for contributing to the project.

The Last Performance is a constraint-based collaborative writing, archiving and text-visualization project responding to the theme of lastness in relation to architectural forms, acts of building, a final performance, and the interruption (that becomes the promise) of community.

This project is conceived in response to the work of the Chicago-based performance collective, Goat Island, and their decision, after 20 years of practice, to create a last performance. Based upon the architecture of a Byzantine dome, The Last Performance will evolve over two years, alongside the creation and performance of the company's final work, The Lastmaker. The writing project and the performance are evolving in parallel and share generative constraints. Upon completion of the final performance tour and this writing project, the company will end, will complete the process of ending, in order, as they have put it,"to make room for the unknown that will follow."

Writers and artists are invited to submit texts and media files in response to creative constraints and thus participate in the process of building a last performance. Contributors need not be familiar with the work of the company to respond. Critics and audience members who attend a work-in-progress or performance of The Lastmaker are invited to respond specifically to the work or to the overall historical project of Goat Island. A constraint-based thread, concerning lasts made..., is now open for this purpose and will eventually also extend to include responses to the last performance project as a work in itself.

Source texts and media submitted to The Last Performance will be treated as raw material for programmatic and performative visualization, re-arrangement, and re-composition according to mechanisms and algorithms that are being developed alongside the writing.

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Architectural Framework

The visual architecture of The Last Performance is taken from Goat Island's research into "double buildings", a phrase used to describe spaces that have housed and survived multiple historical identities. Our initial model for this concept was the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a building that has served historically as both church and mosque and is now a museum. However, our site-based research took place with a visit to a similiar double building in Zagreb, Croatia.

The central structure of The Last Performance is a virtual dome, based on the cupola of the Dzamija (Croatian word for 'mosque') in Zagreb. The Dzamija is a round building that began as a museum, was converted to a mosque during world war II, and then back into a museum. The cupola of the Dzamija consists of an arrangement of 4680 circular glass windows or lenses. A rendering of the cupola structure was interpreted as a movement score for a long sequence in the live performance. The cupola's lenses are here transposed as writing spaces that will be populated over the course of two years. The total work will be collaboratively authored by Goat Island members, invited artists, writers, and critics, the global performance community fostered by the company, and the public-at-large.

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Dome Structure

The dome used as a model for the visual and logical structure of The Last Performance consists of 39 circles (themselves consisting of circles) of increasing circumference expanding outward from a central point. These circles are delineated by round glass lenses through which natural light filters into the space. The system of expanding circles operates according to multiples of six. The innermost circle contains 6 glass lenses (6*1). It is contained most directly by a circle containing 12 lenses (6*2). The third circle contains 18 lenses (6*3). The 39th circle contains 234 lenses (6*39). The Dzamija, itself round, is situated in Zagreb, Croatia at the intersection of six roads.

Fig. 1 => 3 innermost lens circles in dome

The overall dome structure can also be subdivided into six sectors (pie slices) each with its origin in the innermost circle.

Each of the six innermost lenses represents a writing constraint, and the responses to a specific constraint (or to a lens written in response to the constraint) proliferate logically outward to populate a sector.

Fig. 2 => 4 arcs of one sector relating to a specific writing directive. For example: all of the texts represented by these lenses respond to the directive "construct a last performance..."

Each sector will ultimately consist of 780 lenses. There are currently two visible sectors corresponding to the two open directives.

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Writing Constraints

The process of writing for the project is guided by specific constraints or directives, (this project will use these two words interchangeably: the former being more usually associated with writing, the latter with performance) and the use of creative response.

The constraints, which may be phrased as a question, an instruction, a topic, etc., are open to interpretation and may be responded to in any number of ways: directly or indirectly, overtly or discretely, as triggers for content or composition style. Some responses may emerge purely from the constraints or texts within the project, while others may be written in relation to Goat Island's work or a personal history with the group.

The constraints to which the writing responds overlap with those currently being used by the company as directives for the generation of performance material. There are currently four directives / constraints in use:

Collaboration as Architecture: Double Building

Construct a last performance in the form of a heavy foot that weighs 2 tons and remains in good condition.

Consider the style of old words in new times

Concerning lasts made (in the style of twilight)

While all constraints are open to interpretation, please note that Concerning Lasts Made was devised to accommodate responses to Goat Island's last made work, The Lastmaker.

Contributions may be written directly in response to constraints or may respond to a particular previously submitted text within a constraint. The writings contributed to the site are integrated into the emerging dome structure and grouped by constraint.

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Lens Writing (instructions)

You may contribute directly in response to a constraint or in response to a specific lens within the project.

To respond to a constraint: Following the "constraints" page (visual of six circles, four of which contain the letter "c" with texts that traverse the space on rollover), after choosing one of the constraints, you will have the option of reading the most current lens in that area, responding to the constraint, or proceeding to the dome. Clicking on the word 'constraint' in the line "[#] lenses in constraint" will allow you to contribute directly in response to the chosen constraint. If you are not logged in or do not have an account, you will first be sent to the log in / registration page.

To respond to a lens: When reading the site texts already within the dome structure, you may click 'respond' at any time to contribute a new lens to the project. The new lens will be considered as having a close relationship with the lens you were reading when you clicked 'respond' and will belong to the same constraint. If you have not registered or logged in, you will be asked to do so. For new contributors, there will be a slight delay while the account is created.

To add keywords: When entering the contribution, note the 'vocabulary' link above the larger text field. This can be used for applying tags or key-words to classify your entry. This is an experimental feature that, if utilized by enough contributors, could eventually lead to a community vocabulary, a "dictionary of lastness." Please research taxonomies and folksonomies to learn more about this possibility. If you are entering multiple keywords or phrases, these should be separated by commas (ex: lastmaking, double building).

Formatting: At this time, the following basic html tags can be used to format responses: <em> (italic) and <strong> (bold). For example: <em>italicized letter, word, or phrase</em>. Html character codes can be also be used as in &nbsp; for white space. For a reference for character codes see the following link (both character and numerical entities will work):

[Note: Cutting and pasting from documents will often result in strange characters appearing in your entry. It is always a good idea to encode apostrophes, accents, and quotation marks to avoid this (for example &apos; can replace apostrophes in your entry).]

Adding media files: An expandable link beneath the main text field allows for file attachments. The text can be accompanied by attachments such as images or video clips. Please be sure that images are 72 dpi and that any video is under 10mbs.

Word Counts: There is a 60 word minimum and a 360 word maxiumum for responses. Once the contribution is submitted, the new lens will appear in the dome. It will also be tracked as being closely associated with the lens that you were reading when you decided to respond (although this may not yet be evident in the project).

Authorship: By default, your writing will be attributed to your username. To use your proper name or another attribution, you can edit your "Author Name" setting. When reading the dome texts, click on your username in the center of the circle of links in the upper left to access your administrative area. Click on "author info." Update your "Author Name" field and submit the form.

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Contribution Structure

Public contributors are invited to submit up to five lenses to the project. This limitation is due to the enforcement of a finite contribution structure. Participants are also welcome to invite additional contributors.

To invite a contributor: When reading the dome texts, click on your username to access your administrative area. Click on "Invite Contributor." Fill in the name and email fields. In the drop-down box select 'anytime'. The potential contributor will be invited to contribute up to five lenses to the project.

Contributors may write to request additional lenses or to post media files without text or that don't meet the 60 word minimum requirement for a posting.

Code artists who want to contribute a programmatic response to the project may also write for information.

The project was launched in January 2007 and is scheduled to end on January 1, 2009.

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devised, programmed, & maintained
by Judd Morrissey
in collaboration with Goat Island
project assistant: Ian Hatcher

The Last Performance is a project of the Andy Warhol Foundation / Creative Capital Arts' Writers Grant Program.

Additional support provided by the Chicago Artists' Assistance Program.


dzamija at thelastperformance dot org


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