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Artist-run organisation Auto Italia South East take over Jotta.com this week in celebration of their 5th birthday and the broadcast of the latest episode of their TV show, Auto Italia LIVE, which will be filmed in front of a studio audience on Saturday 9th June at 7pm and streamed live from the ICA. We’ll be featuring interviews and videos from Auto Italia all this week. Here the directors catch up with some of the artists collaborating on the next episode to discuss live TV performance and what each artist will be bringing to the show.
Auto Italia have been working on their live TV format since 2010 and each episode has been produced through a large number of collaborators, allowing artists to work alongside a full camera crew, lighting technicians, directors, performers, script writers and production designers. For this latest broadcast they have also formed a core production team overseeing the whole episode which includes Kate Cooper, Marianne Forrest and Richard John Jones from Auto Italia with Nathan Budzinski, Jess Wiesner, Theo Cook and George Moustakas.
Auto Italia: What do you think unwatchable TV would look like?
Nathan Budzinski: Two immediate reactions I have to this question are: Firstly, that 'unwatchable television' doesn't exist. If I can watch (and enjoy) CSI and any number of other similar programmes-of-horror-and-terror-made-fun, then there is nothing that is unwatchable. So much television uses this type of dramatised interdiction to seduce you into watching it. Secondly (and in a different reading of the question) if there is unwatchable television, then there also has to be unhearable television, and mixtures of the two (unwatchable but hearable, and so on). So radio is unwatchable television? The mind still receives images from a distance, but not necessarily through the eyes.
I want to ask a different question: what is the difference between the unwatchable and the unseeable in television? 'Seeing', is where one comprehends (and hopefully remembers) what one has seen. The difference between 'watch this' and 'do you see?' is the difference between command and attention: some televisions command you to 'watch this', regardless of whether you make it sensible or not, whereas other televisions ask us 'do you see what I mean?'.
AI: How would you describe the forthcoming episode of Auto Italia LIVE?
Jess Wiesner: Live TV performance broadcast over the internet. The future.... of television.....
AI: What television do you watch?
JW: I watch what is on at the exact moment I want to watch TV. That fulfils what I'm looking for from the experience. TV on the Internet is a different deal.
A.I.: What are you looking forward to exploring in Auto Italia LIVE: Double Dip Concession?
Andrew Kerton: The interplay of pre-recorded/edited video and live performance and also working with actors.
Huw Lemmey: I'm really excited about creating a series of engaging pieces of script which offer a personal and intimate take on what's a rather dry subject: the differing effects that variations of film stock and video definition produce on our subjectivity. It's a piece on preference for comfortable mediations.
A.I. How are you working on the forthcoming Epsiode of Auto Italia LIVE?
Huw: I'm currently writing script for the episode: a series of short monologues around Realness and HD technology.
A.I.: How has the format developed since its first incarnation in 2010?
Rob Carter and Lorenzo Tebano: Production wise, massively, it's becoming a more slick model. Collaborative elements of the show have shifted, come under scrutiny, gone unnoticed...it's a complicated process that moves very quickly. The pace is frightening and exciting.
A.I.: How have you negotiated your practice and working methods within this collaborative live TV space?
Leslie Kulesh: It's been a really great way to test different modes of collaboration. In 2010, my hosting of the show served as sort of tether to showcase some very different projects side by side. In 2011 we really focused on finding meeting points among the other artists involved and attempted to weave story lines and themes together. One materialization of this was the bar in Auto Italia Live Episode 3 C2C P2P - we used it as shared community space for all our characters as well as beckoning our live audience into it, then using them as extras!
Rob and Lorenzo: It's affected our practice in a big way. We feel a sort of anxiety exists between the freedoms and the limitations of the format. In a way that's an inspiration, exercising those freedoms and limitations in the same space and time. Each time we've worked on the show we've been further removed from the audience. I mean we're making TV not theatre right? But we can't help ourselves, we want them. We want to be be generous, create stimulating situations for viewers in close contact, give them pride of place, cheat on them, tell them we love them, touch them and share a Rupert Murdoch sized jelly with them.
A.I.: What about "liveness" and live performance particularly interests you?
Andrew: Liveness is the state we exist in, it is the most physically apprehensible form of communication and it is the closest approximation of communicating consciousness in real time.
A.I.: How are you negotiating the relationship between the performers on set, the audience in the studio and then the live audience streaming the episode at home?
Francesco Pedraglio: The work really happens just when it goes public. There is no piece without a viewer interpreting it, completing it. It's common knowledge: it simply doesn't happen. This has repercussions though; partial memories, distortions, personal connotations. These elements are part of the piece too. Important parts actually. But they strongly depend on the conditions of delivery. In this sense the relationship between performers, live public on set and streaming is what really ensures the performance to be complete. So you are watching it from home and you know it has a live component; you are watching it in the studio and you know you are being recorded too; you are performing it and you are aware of the layers of meaning you are playing with.
Paul Becker: Honestly? As a painter, my relationship to “The Viewer” is testy, uncomfortable and plays a lot with our mutual disregard. As a writer, this dynamic is better adjusted and a little less perverse. I like the idea of an audience. I hope to give the performer some meat on the bones. If the script is allowed to function, if the performer is interested enough in the text, this should come across to the audience whether present in the studio or not.
A.I.: Any particularly memorable moments from past episodes?
Leslie: Thinking about the last episodes as we formulate this one, I keep coming back to the 'Join the Conversation' bit in Auto Italia Live Episode 3: C2C P2P (2011). The scene involved pre-records, title screens and live actors encouraging the audience to get online and give live feedback, all the while blasting the theme music to Mortal Kombat. It ends with Rob Carter slamming a first edition Mac Book shut - killing the music and thus the scene.
Auto Italia LIVE at the ICA, Saturday June 9, £5 / Free to ICA members
Live screenings will also be hosted by the Palais De Tokyo, Paris, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Outpost, Norwich and at FACT, Liverpool.