The performing arts have always been as much a performance of the public as it they have been about the performers themselves. Garnier’s celebrated opera house in Paris can be seen as one of the archetypes of this hierarchy- the small jewel of the main performance space embedded within the gilded theatre of the bourgeois public that came to the opera as much as to see and be seen as they did to hear. Today, it is universally hoped that live music and performance can be opened up to all, not only the elites as in Garnier’s day, but the young and old, rich and poor. In this era of transparency, however, a rush to break down the barriers between the performer and the public has forgotten the essential architecture- the essential infrastructure- of performance.
As a new model of the architecture of performance, Urban Rigging hopes not to create simply to a theatre of the public, but a public backstage of performance.
The project embraces the technical infrastructure required for performance as it opens itself up to the street and the public at large. Walking down the bright lights of Takeshita Street, a visitor would first notice the appearance of regular planar gestures, rising high into the air, but carved away at ground level where independent shops have inserted themselves into the voids of the structure and continue the unique urban gesture of the pedestrian way. Turning the corner though, this regimented presence reveals itself as a urban screen to the public, and behind the field of shimmering scrims and LED-mesh, the stage itself can be seen as preparations for the next performance are in frantic display. Stopping, the visitor can observe the performers setting up their places before the miracle of their performance as a central lift through the stage ferries their instruments to them. Watching, this observer finds themself equally observed however by the great sitting steps of the entry lobby and its audience to the performance of the street life of Tokyo and enquiring citizens. Entering and rising up the grandly labyrinthine stairs of the lobby- a great bamboo catwalk of guests- and progressing through successive and regimented thresholds of scrim and heavy laminated bamboo structure, the visitor can find their way to their seat at the heart of this framework of performance, or continue climbing upwards, above the rigging and infrastructure, to a bar, suspended high above the hall, looking out to the silent city at large, but also in, silently and voyeuristically to a view of the audience themselves.
A monumental affirmation of the scaffolding of performance, and the performance inherent of the public themselves, the project embraces both the city and the performer, culture and infrastructure.