Pygmalion discovers Galatea as she transforms from work of art into being. (detail)
Derren Brown hypnotises a shopping mall through the loudspeakers, and transforms the crowd from beings into puppets (of sorts...)
Improv Everywhere transform Grand Central Station from environment to scenery as their performers freeze for a few minutes in front of commuters.
There are several different movements to be made in the object-subject field. Above are three framed manoeuvres.
The first two are very simple, a flick-switch movement from autonomous to automated and back again.
Pygmalion's beloved fiction becomes a fleshy reality, and Derren Brown's suggestive powers transform the public into an aesthetic material to be worked on.
In the third the vectors are more complicated. Nominally the actors staging the performance are the objects of our attention.
They are centre of the stage they build around themselves.
Watching the Improv Everywhere video, you notice very quickly that the actors aren't the focus of the camera images.
We're not marvelling at their artifice.
'What interesting poses they chose!' 'How still they stand!'
Sure, because in fact they are only props, scattered across the scene. The real story is the general public.
So any frame we draw here has to be wider, to capture all of the players in this movie, walking in and out of shot.
The living statues transform the station into a set where a pre-constructed narrative is taking place.
The performance borrows all the accessories of the 'present moment' but the public find themselves anticipated, their roles predefined. They don't know the ending, how the story will evolve. The actors do, the camera does, they watch the reactions play out. The spectre of the spectacle is haunting us.
This isn't one of the enormous political choreographies created by Leni Riefenstahl, or fascist states. It's the Disney version. Sugary dreaminess that insists life should be more like fiction. A space where coincidences rule the progress of time, and it rolls out in chapters that can be mirrored, frozen, repeated, manipulated until they fit. Just right.
Centuries of questions of artistic production recounting the struggle of the individual against forces unknown melt into a new position. A waking daydream that capricious gods or authors will intervene to decide our fate. The concept of evolution slides towards to its historical roots. Turning pages. We invite production managers to take control of the script and applaud as their work plays on around us.
How to define this vector of movement?