Luna Park (Georges Aperghis)
Whereas, of course, we can observe someone else without his knowledge (or his being aware of it) and observe how he walks or thinks, that is, his walking and his thinking, we can never observe ourselves without our knowledge (or being aware of it). If we observe ourselves, we are never observing ourselves, but someone else. Thus we can never talk about self-observation, or when we talk about the fact that we observe ourselves we are talking as someone we never are when we are not observing ourselves, and thus when we observe ourselves we are never observing the person we intended to observe but someone else. The concept of self-observation and so, also, of self-description is thus false. Looked at in this light, all concepts (ideas) [...] like self-observation, self-pity, self-accusation and so on, are false. We ourselves do not see ourselves, it is never possible for us to see ourselves. But we also cannot explain to someone else (a different object) what he is like, because we can only tell him how we see him, which probably coincides with what he is but which we cannot explain in such a way as to say this is how he is. Thus everything is something quite different from what it is for us [...]. And always something quite different from what it is for everything else.
Thomas Bernhard, “Walking“ (excerpt), translated by Kenneth J. Northcott, in: Th. Bernhard, “Three Novellas“,
The University of Chicago Press 2003
How to see without being seen? How to watch your neighbours in their home, on the street, in their everyday life, while remaining hidden? In Luna Park, everyone spies on everybody. The four performers are sitting side to side, but contact each other only virtually, never directly or physically. They need to go through the “web“: spy microphones, cameras that follow every move, screens and loudspeakers. Everyone looks at themselves in the camera as in a deep well, establishing an almost erotic relationship with the lens and their own reflection in it. An attempt at spying on yourself? And yet, as Thomas Bernhard remarks in his text Walking, it is absolutely impossible to observe yourself; being conscious of being observed changes our behaviour, makes us become someone else. What is the function of the body in this technological machine? How do we react to that self-propelled machinery? Is the body not becoming only the “eye“ and the “ear “? In this way, performers themselves become cameras and microphones; they start to speak in the latter ’s name, relating what they see, the scenes they’ve watched, followed, recorded. They speak with words but also with numbers (time code, the measure of time within a film sequence). Depending on the image currently being screened and what is happening on stage, there will be close-ups, juxtapositions and mixings. It can be amusing and terrifying, like a rollercoaster.
The cast of Luna Park resembles an altar in which two vertical figures (flutists Eva Furrer and Michael Schmid) surround two “sitting“ figures (Johanne Saunier and Richard Dubelski, whose gestures are “observed“ by motion detectors). A musical polyphony is built of bits of phrases, words, phonemes and numbers. Deconstructing and reconstructing what others have said. Breaths are prolonged by instruments (bass flute and octobass flute). One of the roles of sound and electronics is to create false tropes, colour the recorded images, lend them another “sense“ each time they are viewed, so that when a given fragment returns, it seems familiar and modified at the same time. Another function of sound in this work is the expression of thoughts of people who are being watched without knowing it. When we see the image of a person walking down the street, and at the same time on stage that person is talking to herself, it sounds like she is thinking aloud, although on stage, she is saying that text in a totally different context to that on the screen. Sentences uttered by a synthetic, impersonal, artificially computer-generated voice seem to emanate from a human or from an invisible apparatus that is continuously watching everybody.
Different elements of the work are performed by visual and acoustic equipment on stage. In the clutches of that panopticon, in that real whirlpool, the public must create their own collages of images, their own montage: they must be active. It is a perennial play between virtuality and reality.