What actually happened? Think poetry slam meets performance art.
One by one the writers, photographers and journalists took the
stage and read their works, which were augmented in some way to
make them "live." Neil Janowitz, for one, emerged dressed like he
was about to run a marathon -- in some very short shorts -- and
told us a story of world records, attempting a long jump and using
a strip of light on the stage to illustrate the world record,
effectively making the data tangible and bringing his story to
life. In the real competition, we learned that there's an allowance
for wind assistance, but there was no such draft helping him on
stage. "Trust me, I would know," he said.
Other pieces, though, involved no readings. The New York
Neo-Futurists made some kind of abstract point about water
consumption in a performance art piece I won't pretend to
understand. Basically, a guy stood there drinking eight eight-ounce
cups of water in quick succession, handed to him by a group of
people orbiting him -- also in runner's garb -- as they held up
signs about said water consumption habits. I'm sure it was a deeply
profound social commentary for those who are into that sort of
thing. Or maybe not.
But "Radiolab" producer Pat Walters' "One Breath" piece on the
sport (?) of freediving was the most interesting and best
epitomized the event. He began by reading his story aloud. Then
using simple, subtle techniques, he turned an article into an
immersive, audience-involving experience. As he recounted the
dangers and challenges of free-diving and one free-diver's tale,
the sounds of rushing, bubbling water played in the background.
On the screen behind him, a blue background gradually grew
darker and darker. Numbers flashed, indicating the depth at which
we had now vicariously sank and how long we would have been holding
our breath. After about 400 feet, a climb back to the surface, and
over three and a half minutes since our last breath, Pat
proclaimed, "For those of you still playing along, you can breathe
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Teicher is the social media and event-content manager for
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