Internet improv

By means of her YouTube-inspired concept called YouMake,ReMake, performance artist Renana Raz hopes to create a novel platform for live interaction.

By MARGARET STONER
March 5, 2011 21:43
3 minute read.
Performer Uri Shafir works with YouMake,ReMake

YouMake ReMake 311. (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)

Within just a few years of its release, YouTube has become the premier application for on-the-spot entertainment.

Many artists use YouTube as their main venue, and it is becoming increasingly easy to enjoy art of almost all forms from in front of a computer screen. In the age of the Internet, the gap between traditional performance and digital entertainment seems as wide as ever.

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Renana Raz, a performance artist based in Tel Aviv, is trying to bridge that gap through her new concept, YouMake,ReMake. Raz explains: “The concept is to invite artists from different fields of the arts to respond to YouTube clips on stage. The concept started when I noticed that every social encounter ends in a YouTube session – someone asks the question, ‘Did you see this or that on YouTube?’ One would expect this shift in public attention to be disturbing to traditional stage performers, but Raz sees potential in the phenomenon. “On one hand, I felt that it’s fascinating and amazing; but on the other hand, as a stage artist I felt a bit frustrated, so I decided to bring YouTube to my territory – to create a dialogue between video and stage.”

YouMake,ReMake works like this: About 13 performers produce a total of nine or 10 sequences. A YouTube clip is projected behind the artists before, during, or after their responses, which differ greatly from one another. Either the performer or Raz, who assists in directing and fine-tuning the responses, chooses the clips.

“They [the responses] are not just mirror replicas but more like a comment. We try to be very strict – we keep the same movement and feel, but we try to put a different context into it. The dialogue creates a new unit, something that is neither YouTube nor onstage,” Raz explains.

While the Internet will play a crucial role in the YouMake,ReMake project (many of the performances are already on YouTube), Raz is hesitant to call it a Web-based project. “We have a site (youmakeremake.com), and we shot the responses and edited them for the Web. But it’s a stage project, and I want to keep it this way. I take the clips and put them online in order to have a library. The idea was born from the Net, and I want to bring it back to the Net,” she says.

The concept was recently performed at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv. Ofer Amram, a longtime colleague of Raz, explains his role in the performance: “Renana showed me a [YouTube] clip of two grizzly bears fighting, and then asked if I have an idea about doing something physical with it. So I had an image of two men fighting, with one of them dressed in drag. It was an intuitive decision.

Then we studied the exact choreography of this struggle and built the response.”

YouMake,ReMake first hit the stage at the Intima Dance Festival last year. Since then, Raz has expanded the project in Israel, creating new sequences and signing up more performers.

“My vision is that I can go to different cities in the world to work with local artists and create local additions. The advantage of YouTube is that you can find local and universal [clips] on it,” she says.

What is it about the project that really distinguishes it from YouTube? “I would like to make it happen in real life as well,” she says.

Rather than entertaining and engaging the public solely through the often impersonal context of the Internet, Raz hopes to create a real platform for human interaction.

The project was presented to curators and organizers at the International Exposure at the Suzanne Dellal Center in December, and the website is set up for collaboration.

With hopes that YouMake,ReMake catches on around the world, Amram describes the essence of the project: “It’s more like playing than working. Because it’s a short clip, you just have to think intelligently about what you want to do, and then it’s really fun and simple. In this case you are not working from someone else’s work, you are just reacting to someone else’s output – it makes it less heavy.”


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