WWWWWH at Performing Evidence, SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, 2009.
All photographs by Nicki Musgrave
Closed Circuit (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How #2) is a new performative work by Rod Dickinson. It interrogates the historical form of the presidential speech and government press briefing. Set in a meticulously constructed press conference environment, two actors deliver a simulated press briefing.
The script of Closed Circuit (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How #2) was written in collaboration with writer Steve Rushton, and is composed solely of fragments of press statements and speeches delivered since the Cold War. The script focuses on the way in which similar declarations have been used by numerous governments – across continents and spanning the ideological divide – to declare and maintain states of crisis and justify acts of violence.
The press briefing is inexorably linked to the feedback circuitry of television. Just as the crisis is always in the present, the liveness of television calls the present forward. The press statement thus works as a feedback mechanism, which is carefully constructed for the template of television that disseminates it, and which in turn shapes political and social reality.
The fragments are woven together irrespective of context and date – in fact the only change that Dickinson and Rushton have made to the original material is to remove any specific mention of people, places and dates. Consequently, the who, what, where, when, why and how are removed from the spoken text. However, their provenance is revealed via synced autocue text scrolling up large screens positioned on both sides of the audience. The visual and theatrical syntax of the political briefing alongside the repetition of rhetoric reproduces the logic that governs public life and media in general.