There is a great quote from the very end of this Desert Rain documentary video. I’m not sure whether it is a piece of content from the installation, or a vox pop from one of the players. Still I feel that this sums up both the liminality of the installation itself and the liminality of both war itself and Baudrillard’sÂ hyperreal war. (UPDATE: It was Glenn, a british soldier in Iraq)
You’ve seen something you never imagined you were going to see. Then you’ve got to go back to the real world. Or, I might put that the other way around.
These are the rough notes from my discussion with Ju Row Farr about their piece Desert Rain. Again my observations in green.
- Established an ongoing relationship with the MRL/Nottingham U (if Kidnap established a new relationship with media and audiences then this established a new use of technology)
- Came from work on the Gulf War. Baudrilliard and his ideas of the virtual and the hyperreal. (There is a difference in the way hyperreality and liminality are set forth. Hyperreality is almost like liminality expanding to take up everything and remove the seams, a liminal experience where the threshold has disappeared)
- It mixed the fictional/factual/imaginary/real.
- Tried to get people proximal to the gulf war, emotively and intellectually, but through physical activity (the physical metaphor mimics the notion of the threshold, or the centre/periphery concept)
- Asked to do things you’ve never done before, but made up of actions that are fairly mundane
- Desert Rain was much more of a game, or influenced by games, in the very least because of the use of the virtual world technology
- Participants were physically changed going into the installation, handed over their own coats and donnedÂ identicalÂ raincoats (elements of separation stage of ritual)
- We talked about gateways, and that each section of Desert Rain was a successive gateway. Although much focus has been put on the game bit, that was only one part of the experience. (the language of gateways. it also feels very much like the procedures of ritual)
- They wanted an afterglow or rumour to come away afterwards. They slipped a small box of desert sand into people’s pockets to take away. (this was one of the nicest examples of elements of transition that I think abound in their work. the very nature of ritual is such that you are intended to take back something from the experience into the so called real world, that it is a state change)
- Desert Rain required collaboration to “succeed”
- You could really lose yourself in the moment and in the game, lost in the fiction paralleling being lost in the war.
- A lot in this was about crossing lines, social lines and moving from a position of the familiar to the unfamiliar.
- “to connect people” (communitas)
- “to punch through” (liminal language)
- On process – “get the hors d’oeuvre right and the main meal will taste right” (a nice reflection on the procedures and the importance of the separation phase)
- “Crossing thresholds gives a buzz”
- Mysteries in the ways people interact (reflecting I think on the difference between societas and communitas, the tensions between structured, hierarchical, role-typed social interaction and the homogenous, direct, authentic types of social interaction. Both are mysterious and the transitions between them are mysterious.)
- The end, the psychological debrief gives a symmetry to the work, an in and an out. (repeatedly I do find a care paid to the way the experience ends and the integration processes is a core part of the whole installation)
- They want the participants to feel a need to talk about it afterwards, and they give them the chance through things like interviews andÂ questionnaires. (This all relates to the process of integration at the end of the ritual, where the things you have learnt are reflected upon and massaged back into the structures of the everyday)