love_me is a one-man musical play that demonstrates the shortcomings of communication, particularly in context of artistic performance. The play combines custom-built software/hardware and tropes of musical theatre to propose a system of information exchange that ultimately proves futile; the totality of what the performer is communicating is and never can be purely transferred to the audience.
Performing in a white jumpsuit while wearing a microphone-embedded gas mask, I proceed to have a conversation with an enormous computer screen (via touch typing) about the efficacy of the performance as it occurs. There are three acts, each culminating in the performance of popular song.
With each successive act, I further my realization that while I can never fully deliver my information to the audience, we are united in a reciprocal inability to merge our thoughts and selves into one; we all have "asdf", a lived experience of permanent separation punctuated and frustrated by the effort to be closer.
Information is the ability to make nonrandom selections from a set of alternatives (Reddy 181)
We all have information. With this ability we are able to make distinctions. The practice of stenography is predicated on nonrandom selection. A good stenographer has good information. A good stenographer can reliably distinguish ‘there’ from ‘their’ from ‘they’re’. If all stenographers were good stenographers then their would be no good stenographers.
It is generally agreed upon that the site of information is somewhere inside of the body. It was once thought that information was housed inside of the stomach. This is absurd. At another time information was said to be found inside of the heart. This is ridiculous. Reliable sources claim that information is located inside of the brain. It is excessively difficult to access because of facial tissue and bone.
It is widely believed that the distinctions that I make can be made congruent with the distinctions that you make. This can be achieved through communication.
Communication is the transfer of the ability to make nonrandom selections from a set of alternatives from one location to another (Reddy 181).
We all have information. We all have a body in which our information is situated. I have information in my body and you have information in your body. Because each of us contains a seat for information we infer that information is transferable between bodies. When I attempt to take my information from my body and put it into your body I am communicating with you. When you attempt to take your information from your body and put it into my body you are communicating with me.
If the communication is good then the information that I have and the information that you have will be identical. Otherwise we will be left to determine who is at fault for the failure of our communication. Each of us blames the other.
If information is inside of the body then it is assumed to be some form of particulate matter. We have many methods of expelling matter from our bodies. We believe that performance is one such method.
I grew up as a kid going to see every show on Broadway. And I was horrified by most of what I saw. It was this whole feeling that the performer is always reaching out to the audience saying, “love me, love me”, trying to develop empathy.
Performance is what happens when an artist attempts communication. Often times the artist will perform in the presence of an audience. The audience observes the performance with the understanding that they must act as receptacles for the information that the artist is spewing from its body. Applause indicates that the audience has properly received the artist’s information. The artist is pleased when the audience applauds.
However, the artist is often left with a hollow feeling in its body after performance. It hopes that this feeling is caused by the absence of the information that has been spewed out. The artist is perturbed when it realizes that it still has the information inside of it.
At the end of the performance the audience does not have the artist’s information. The audience cannot have the information if it never left the artist in the first place. The artist blames the audience. The audience blames the artist. Everyone is disappointed.
-so we all have it then-
asdf is all that we all have.
Reddy, Michael J. “The conduit metaphor: A case of frame conflict in our language about language.”
Andrew Ortony ed. Metaphor and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.