Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Environments Used in Clay Continent (Part3)

Hyde - I am a sick man...

Utterson - Did you ever remark that door?

"I am a sick man" - Notes from underground.
I see such a direct correlation to the protagonist of Notes from Underground and this triptych. With these paintings we get to act as voyeur to man in the midst of what appears to be both a biological as well as spiritual crisis (the second painting and its sprawling shadow hammers this home for me).

Utterson starts the show by asking the audience if they have ever "remarked that door?" He is referring to the door which is Hyde's means of exiting and entering Jekyll's domain. A crooked and stained orifice that is accessible only by the rat infested back alleys. But that image of a door that mustn't be opened, like a Pandora's box mustn't be opened. Here we have a diseased and reprehensible figure separated from us the spectator by the open door. We might be voyeurs, we might have a more intimate relationship with the figure of the sick man.

These images also served as a launching point for a dream/nightmare sequence in Clay Continent where all of Utterson's most desperate scatological fears/obsessions and/or fantasies about the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde become visualized. The light would rise and fall slowly each time revealing a different image like a progression through the above triptych. The scene presented at the full production was composed of more images than these, but these were the original inspiration and the differences were variations upon these visual themes.

The sharp split in space and how that split is violated in one of the images, has struck me as of late. I have been thinking about this Jekyll and Hyde paradigm and asking myself how to relate it to the story of Oedipus. Jekyll was looking for a man who was himself, just as Oedipus condemns and investigates a murder and sexual travesty that he unknowingly committed. I think about the Sphinx in the Oedipus tale, what the Sphinx means in Mythology. Who casts that shadow, or perhaps what part or element of the figure is cast/caught in that shadow? Or is it instead a different figure, a demon, a persecutor, could it be the Sphinx?

These images also remind me of the gonzo aesthetic of Hunter S Thompson and Ralph Steadman's work. A visceral dangerous self destructive sort of freedom. I recall the scenes in the book Fear and Loathing of The Doctor of Journalism and his attorney just one toke away from mutually assured destruction. This idea of Gonzo could also be applied to the suggestion RLewis made to the last Clay Continent environmental post about wanting as the spectator to be able to pull back the curtain rather than having one of the figures onstage do that.

So potential layers of Gonzoism...? Jekyll's experiments have definitely gone Gonzo. He is experimenting upon his own flesh and blood. Utterson the lawyer is going the Gonzo route by getting personally involved with his client and with he whom he believes to be his client's nemesis. And then another even more interesting yet improbable possibility which is finding ways to involve the audience so that they get a sense of that gonzoism as well. How to use the environments to elucidate and enable the Gonzoism...?

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