"!" [Hollywood Blues] July 2013 - Page 36

Second, and by contrast, the presence of an onstage ‘choir’ suggests the Ancient Greek theatrical tradition of the chorus: a collective body who, whilst not comprising a ‘character’ of the dramatic narrative, functioned to comment, periodically, upon the play’s action. In …Blues, the absence of ‘action’ or characters renders the ‘reporting’ of the ‘chorus’ an isolated affair; as in the Baudrillardian hyperreal, here, too, there is only the recurrent act of mediation. Arguably, this concept might be challenged on the grounds that the performers speak in the ?rst person and (albeit in a melodramatic, ?lmic style) ?eetingly ‘occupy’ archetypal character-roles of the disaster movie to deliver their lines. However, aside from these decidedly non-naturalistic stylistic components, the lack of a linear narrative or narrative cohesion, and, crucially, the absence of corresponding visual representation (through bodies or media-generated images) points to the status of the spoken text as a series of empty signi?ers, referring only to the hyperreal realm from which they have been drawn. If the hyperreal then, is always already a mark of the impossibility of ‘authentic’ or the ‘real’, the victory of the signi?er that points only to itself, the presence of this absence is further represented through the possibility of misrecognition that …Blues enables. Having already stated that the spoken text comprised disaster ?lm quotes, it might be useful to mention that, in watching the piece, I did not believe this to be the case, thinking instead that these words were merely imbued with a speci?c trope of ‘?lmness’, likely familiar to the Western consumer, whilst actually the product of ‘original’ writing on Easton’s part. That I thought the lines were not taken from ?lms, despite assuming the inevitability of their being ‘taken’ from the ?lmic realm, signals the piece’s possibility to invite a sort of double misrecognition, and one reliant upon enculturation in the Western hyperreal. This notion ?nds support in the comparability of …Blues with the work of such US American photographers as Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the images produced by the former for her Untitled Film Stills series (1977-80) that came to mind as I (mis)recognised the ‘script’ of Easton’s piece: self-portraits of Sherman posing in the guise of archetypal female Hollywood characters, such that the viewer might perceive the image to be a genuine ?lm still of something (intangibly?) familiar: a hat-wearing Hitchcock beauty lost amidst a skyscraping metropolis, perhaps. 36