Taking time to reflect, I still have trouble explaining to myself what \Art was to me. It was fun, it was nerve-wracking; it was symbiotic learning, it was experience; it was happening every day, it was over. I’m truly grateful to have worked with Renée, whom I learned so much from and formed a bond with after working closely together every day, and to have been a part of helping bring Kate’s vision to life. Even when Kate’s phobias of technology all came true while testing on the day of the performance, we still managed to pull everything together and had the performance work and come to life for the audience. In the end, technology was our friend, thankfully.
There was too much to the journey to say I only found a few key things to take away. I think this experience blew me out of the water with my expectations versus the reality. I know in the future that even if I’m good at rolling with the punches, I need to keep others feeling reassured as they roll through them with me. I still am not sure of what to make of my career from here forward because this fellowship already set a standard I’m not sure any regular job could ever meet. I will become a wrestler like I wanted and promised Kate (and Renée, sort of). I also know now how important it is to have a partner you trust, like working with, and can learn from. That’s really the only reason we were able to start from scratch and have our project work out for us in the end, for the most part.
Reflecting on the actual performance, things were calm when we started the rehearsal and testing. I went away to renew my parking, and when I came back everyone was frantic, especially Kate. I had to help Renée recenter herself because everyone was stressing her out while I left, and before they could pull the plug on what we worked so hard on to replace it with a faked version (how stupid), I focused under my frustration and helped Renée come up with ways to make everything work for us until it did. Time ended up deciding everything when the audience came up the stairs and nobody could do anything any longer to stop things from happening. Our gesture detection worked for three performers, and for the one critical performer (the leader) we had to push a button to make an excerpt of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” play for her. And it was luck that when we started the performance we just had everything barely working, but it ended up working for the entire 30 minute duration of the performance. We also got lucky the audience stayed back so they didn’t interfere with the detection of the performers by the Kinect.
All of us were relieved when the performance was done. It was an intense and frightening experience for everyone involved, but I felt like we all thought our mission was accomplished by the end of it. I know I’ll miss this experience as I move on, but I feel like \Art was just the beginning of a story I want to write throughout my career and life. I want to keep striving to explore and create like we did in this fellowship, but I also want to work closely with others like I did with Renée and Kate. This is the first time I truly was immersed in the autonomy of being an adult at every hour of each day. In the beginning it felt like this could be an extension of school where obligations have to be met and the wheels turn on their own. At some point in the second month it became clear we were actually personally invested in this effort. It still feels like a shock to live life from that perspective even all these months later, but it’s the most important thing I got from this experience. Now that I have this sense of accountability in life in some sort of balance, I want to keep going with it from here.