Althea Thauberger

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Des Ouevres Polymorphes

Melanie Boucher
Montréal: Espace #70 | 2006

Milutin Gubash and Althea Thauberger’s Dream Factory of 2002 proceeds differently. Their performance is similar to reality television, taking some of the ways it is produced, such as announcing an audition for “amateurs” and “professionals” to a certain group, auditioning people and making a more or less arbitrary choice, hiring technicians, creating a television setting, performing before the public, shooting, and so on. The artists themselves were not in the forefront. They were in charge of an adventure that happened in real time in Victoria, British Columbia, and is now a recording on video.

The Dream Factory performers are those that acted, sang, danced and juggled in front of the public. The stage where they performed was set up in an artist-run centre, and included monitors that relayed the performances directly. Thus, the audience was aware of taking part in a bipartite experience: that of watching a show in person, while seeing it through the eye of the camera. Until then, one might think that Dream Factory is like some of the reality shows seen on the small screen today. What makes it different is the choice of performers. For example, the trio who sang The Mamas & The Papas’ successful California Dreamin’ are neither the right age nor have the appropriate look to launch careers as pop singers.

In Dream Factory, the artists have exploited some of reality television’s means in order to divert the end results. Instead of imposing a certain homogenization of our culture by selecting candidates that respond to precise criteria of age, physique and personality, they embrace cultural diversity by presenting a broad range of people with a variety of talent. Whereas reality television paints a glowing picture of a dream that is almost inaccessible, such as going on stage and being applauded, the artists make the dream come true. Perhaps this is where the title Dream Factory comes from.

In this case, how do disciplines such as performance and video cohabit? To give a quick comparison, I would say that performance is to video what the word is to writing. Sentences spoken out loud will never be the same as those read to oneself, even if the words are identical and the reader is the author: the medium is different. It entails neither the same constraints nor the same possibilities. There is a shift, a time–lag between the performance and the video, a difference that makes Dream Factory more complex when taken as a whole.

Translator: Janet Logan