Part chat show, part movie trailer, a story told by the powerful voice of a mezzo-soprano and an absent chorus line; this is just a hint of what went on in Cally Spooner’s live online performance He’s in a Great Place!’ on 28 February. Following her live musical, And You Were Wonderful, On Stage, at Tate Britain earlier this year, ;this second part of Cally Spooner’s BMW Tate Live commission transformed the musical into an extended trailer for a future film that doesn’t exist yet. And all of it took place in one room where the only way you could see it was via a live, online only broadcast.
From the United States to Poland, Israel to Mexico, you watched and commented live from over thirty countries. Here’s some of the questions you asked the artist, and the answers she gave in reply straight after her performance:
Romolie Jackson-Jones, NYC
What’s your attraction to using chorus line to tell a story?
I was interested in the chorus line as this apparatus that operates within this musical theatre genre as being this function of language that carries these repetitions and drove the action but was never really the main narrative or point of the piece. I’m quite interested in things not really arriving, there not being a narrative, or things somehow being upset when you get to the point where you think there was going to be a narrative or some kind of coherency.
How do you approach creating a work for the online space vs. the physical?
I found this online performance room space strange but also interesting. Strange in the sense that I find the online space a bit strange in general I suppose. The first thing that I knew I wanted to deal with was idea of there being a lack of bodies, a lack of people and that’s why a lot of the material that you’ve just seen is also pre-recorded and there’s a lot of absent people, and it’s cutting between the live register of the opera singer a lot of pre-recorded material.
But were you deliberately blurring that as Aña in Moscow has said ‘Watching Cally Spooner’s performance, I thought it would be “live” not a recorded video…’
It’s actually both and I deliberately wanted it to feel like it was all pre-recorded. I was thinking a lot about the idea of the ‘lip sync’, how this whole particular piece could feel like a ‘lip sync’, for it to feel prerecorded but also be very live… All the material in the piece is all shot live, all the pre-recorded material is all shot in straight takes, so everything’s a bit messed up in that sense and I wanted that to be quite messed up.
Hi from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Why did you choose an operatic style of singing?
The opera singer is singing the comments you get at the bottom of YouTube videos and I’m quite interested in that space… it’s quite an aggressive space but llegedly quite a democratic space in theory…The comments that were delivered at the end of these YouTube videos, where various are celebrities involved in these moments that seemed live but had actually been pre-recorded, such as the Beyonce lip sync and Lance Armstrong interview, I was interested in the public anger, these betrayals of liveness, everyone was so upset…I was interested in giving that anger the sound of trauma or the voice of drama which…
Are so flattened in YouTube, and are so formulaic usually that ends up in the same kind of argument.
…when you what those comments are, they are so terrible and tragic, like a kind of opera in that way.
How is the viewer to be made aware of your source materials, and does it matter if they aren’t?
I’m quite keen that even if you didn’t know any of the underlying references, or different current affairs or different bits of philosophy or various things being referenced, I would be super happy if it was still watchable and there was something to be able to perform out of that, it’s not so didactic that you have to follow those references.
Anna Ghublikian from Denver
Cally Spooner – so eloquent! Insightful comments about liveness, performance, publics, the digital age, life!
Get your questions ready or the next BMW Tate Live: Performance Room by Bojana Cvejić, Christine De Smedt, Marta Popivoda and Ana Vujanović on Thursday 22 May 2014, 20.00 BST and follow #BMWTateLive and @Tate_Live for updates