Attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble; secretive
- they spent a furtive day together
- he stole a furtive glance at her
Suggestive of guilty nervousness
- the look in his eyes became furtive
So here is a definition that we will use as a base point, a starting point and as a point whence we might return in case I get arrested or considered mentally unstable for the courts.
Over the past few days and for the majority of this creative research residence I will be referring to this definition. And while a large portion of my artistic practice in the past has embraced this concept, I am uncertain if my work might really be categorized as furtive; but rather under-documented. For me I feel that documentation is somewhat of a necessary evil in terms of funding agencies and in terms of providing a trace or ephemeral stain of what has occurred. I would put forth the supposition that at its core performance art is about story telling and this story telling; either through movement, audio, and visual cues and attributes; focus upon the sharing of ideas, thoughts, feelings and often (though, not always linear) narratives. I find that direct documentation changes the reading of a performance and that bystanders (potential co-participants, or maybe, less active participants)often then read the performance differently - as video work, as something theatrical, and not just documentation. It might seem odd but I am less bothered by strangers video recording me on their phones and pdas then I am by direct documentations.
So if my practice is truly furtive, perhaps I should not be writing about it?
The definition above alludes to a romantic encounter and since the majority of my work over the last three years has dealt with intimacy, I find it funny and, well perfect as a discussion point. Since Friday, I have been spending time reading the Metro - Montreal's underground interconnected transit system. There are four interconnected lines, the orange, the blue, the purple and the yellow.
Broad sweeping generalization One: People in Montreal seem to walk less.
When I stop to ask for directions (this is a furtive act?) people often say rather quickly - "oh, that is far away, you could take the metro" Often the distance is not far and it is interesting to me that the response is such to utilize the metro.
Perhaps it is because Montreal has that critical mass, perhaps it is because there are three major universities and many students and also many individuals without cars... however it is, there are a significant number of Montrealers that utilize the Metro daily and often multiple times during the day. Just like the romantic large city - read NYC, Tokyo, London, etc. where people drone unto the metro and look pass others and do not connect, and like almost every public transit vehicle, people avoid eye contact with others, pretending to talk on their phone, or talk mindlessly to someone on the other end of their cell phone, or deep into their book/reader, or listening intently to their iPod - avoiding others' i's.
The first time on the Metro with Karen (elaine spencer) I notice the physical set up of the cars and where seats are and how oddly juxtaposed they are - as in that the seats are placed so that people are facing sideways with each other. Also the aisles are very narrow so that you might be able to stand however walking in the aisle is both awkward and uncomfortable for both those who sit and those who are standing. How you navigate a stroller, or a wheelchair I wonder? It's Friday afternoon - around 3 p.m. and rush hour has started. I hop onto the Metro and there are seats even though I am in one of the cars in the middle if the almost 20 car train. The doors close and we are off and at the next stop a woman sits down and I smile this big smile at her. She looks at me a bit shocked at first. She then smiles back and I think Yes, contact. There are different types of smiles - those parched stingy smiles, those polite smiles, and more; but her smile was real and honest - I feel that I am radiating. So I continue this subtle - maybe furtive action - where I establish eye contact with passengers, one at a time, and then smile at them and wait for a reply. A smile can be interpreted in various ways: a opening for a unstable person to take your precious alone time away from you; an opening for someone you fancy; or simple hello fellow human it's great we are here and sharing this moment.
So I continue this action in various cars, on various metro lines and with many different people. My success rate was good and it makes me think is a smile like a yawn - can you catch it? Does it cause you to infect others?