project image
Patrick Block

first performed on June 15, 2011
SB-ADaPT Festival, Santa Barbara, CA
performed twice in 2011


Janet Aisawa

Brooklyn, NY


In the very spines of our methodologies lies our horror at the thought that we are bewildered… how can that kindle our sense of wonder? How does wonder then proliferate? I made the performance installation “The Paper Trail” so that people could surrender and enjoy the sensory experience of the moment as it happens, without a thought as to where it goes.

We tackled the moment by exposing every moment of the project: multiple perspectives of the installation were simultaneously visible from any given vantage point and could be viewed for any length of time. The project was installed at the center of a three-story gallery, surrounded by other simultaneously occurring performances and exhibits. Physical engagement with the installation was welcomed, and we offered multiple perspectives simultaneously via birds-eye-view live-feed video projection. All throughout, the live-feed camera also filmed to create a time-lapse film of the installation over the course of the night. We sculpted a familiar, powerful material to which all can relate and engage-paper. In the performance installation, as in life, paper overwhelms: with its smell, feel, volume, presence, and by its manifold roles.

What forms when physical residues of the familiar and powerful accumulate? Witnesses gather and their actions cause the installation’s form to gradually morph and evolve. The paper was corralled into various shapes that gave it a sort of ephemeral, contained life-a bird’s nest, a bed, a map, a trail.

The possibilities of what we could create were affected by the space and people that contained the performers and installation. Interpretation and purpose were left open-ended; my exploration revealed that the vocabulary the performers created could be understood by everyone witnessing it, albeit differently depending on the vantage point from which it was viewed. No one could understand the same thing the same way, nor contain the vocabulary’s growth from what I introduced.

Circles enclose while suggesting infinity. The work focused on containment-does cycling transcend or trap that which is contained inside? The paper frames people, and inevitably scraps flutter and scatter over those present. People open in response. Some piled paper on top of friends, presented it over one another like mistletoe; others threw shreds high, holding out their hands to catch its fluttering descent. The adult audience played like little kids and made chaos from our organized structures. That was the point: to lose oneself in a glorious mess.