Impossible Performances

Speculative events that dissolve the boundary between watching and acting

December 8, 2020

You are sitting in your favorite chair. On a short, round table in front of you is a small television set. It’s probably from 1980. It’s the size of a large dinner plate with a single long antenna extended to its full length at a 45-degree angle. You stand up and lean forward to turn the small volume dial at the lower right. In a moment, a hissing static covers the screen. You reach for the lower of the two channel knobs and turn it six clicks to channel four. In black and white, a light-haired man speaks to the camera. Strangely enough, the only sound to come through is a buzzing hum. You sit back and watch the screen, out of habit. After a short while, though, it loses its attraction and you glance around the room. Except it isn’t a room. You seem to be in some kind of odd alien forest. Tall, smooth trunks extend high above you. Densely growing out of a smooth ground the color of your skin, the trees seem to have no leaves or branches but grow like grass, so high that their own weight brings their tops to bend in layers against other trunks. You realize now that apart from a faint white glow making its way through the top of this unusual forest, the only light here is the gray-blue flicker of the TV set. The ground is warm and just slightly oily. My god. But now on the TV, the man has left and there’s an advertisement for butter, spreading across the screen. You sit back and pay attention.

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Charles Campbell

Charles Campbell is an interdisciplinary artist and co-founder of Skewed Visions and Fresh Oysters Performance Research. He has made many live and virtual performance works since the 1990s, most of which were made in places not made for performance. Skewed Visions is an intentionally small, local, and experimental idea that fosters rigorous, innovative, thoughtful artistic practice to question the way things are. Fresh Oysters is a shared alternative arts research, development, and presentation …   read more