back to back theatre's sublime spectacle and the cinematic embrace of masculinity May 30, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

 “I don’t want to lose you Gary. ” To sit within the Olympic Sculpture Park with the mandate to look and listen, aided by microphones and headphones is to occupy a place of privilege. Suddenly, rather then hiding the fact that you are engaged in voyeuristic practices, you are laid bare as a spectacle. The Voyeur. The Audience.  “I don’t want to cry in front of a guy. ” The story of small metal objects is partly a story of masculinity that, much like the performance, is always in motion. Friendship is explored and defined within a framework of human imperfection. And unlike the borrowed masculinity of archetypes and superheroes, the characters in small metal objects create their own masculinity through intimacy. Often it’s an intimacy that can only be found by actively looking and listening to the world around us.  “It’s my task to be a man. I want people to see me. ” We are witness (or participant?) to this forging of masculinity in the most unsubtle of ways. The audience, geared up with headphones and the secret of knowing which jogger, dog walker, lover, tourist and baby stroller is part of the entertainment, is the biggest spectacle of it all. We are there to look, but to also be looked at. And while our presence provides a diversion for the actors, the voyeuristic role of the audience allows a level of public spectatorship that is unequal in the city. As a member of the audience, you have a 180 degree view of an incredible Puget Sound horizon, filled with buildings, ferries, sculpture, water, islands and the setting sun. In short, it’s a cinematic landscape with a depth of field that runs to infinity. People enter into your frame of vision as if on cue. The costumes, make-up, and props of people that stroll through the park have a level of realism that defies real. Suddenly the everyday world seems exaggerated and fabricated when you look this close.  “You're standing here dying, when you could be living. ” Attending a performance of small metal objects is similar to discovering a new color in the world. Everywhere you turn, there are shades of the familiar. It’s when you decide to look beyond that familiar horizon to something closer is when it gets interesting. - C Snyder