On Thursday afternoon I went to the South Bank to direct an outdoor performance by a solo orchestra conductor, a role expertly undertaken by conductor Anthony Weeden. My initial ‘direction’ (if that’s the right word) was that the conductor observe the people and things moving around him, and conduct them as though they were an orchestra.

It’s a proposition that’s impossible to literally put into practice, and so his real work was to watch, pre-empt, and very speedily react to whatever goes on around him, so that he appears to be conducting it all.

What interests me is the coexistent double image of a conductor authoring the movements of the passers-by, and the passers-by authoring the movements of the conductor. I’m developing this piece among a series of projects using diverse analogies for reader, writer and text: other analogies I’m trying are ‘text as line’, ‘text as machine’, ‘text as pivot’ and ‘text as handle’.

I want to think more about the noise in the system of the performance: the many unpredictable points at which the analogy between text and conductor breaks down. With this series of researches I’m keen to put the research into the hands of the practice. I can stare at the computer and edit my thoughts as much as I like, but only by going through with the performance – in all its particularities – can we hope to reach the bits that break down. And I’m sure it’s in the breakdowns that there are grains of chance for new thought.

I’ll upload a short video of the performance as soon as it’s complete.

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