I performed an art piece on February 17th which I named “Worst Generation. ” I used the object of a phone and looked at it from two different angles. From a lazy millennial and as a member of the millennial generation trying their best with the technology available to them. I will be critically examining how this performance related to my student learning objectives, while also analyzing my performance, which I did under three different theories: performativity, the alienation effect, and mimesis, poiesis, and kinesis. This performance both related to the second student learning objective in particular.
The second student learning objective is, “Students will be able to identify the dynamics of ethnic, cultural, gender/sexual, age-based, class, regional, national, transnational, and global identities and the similarities, differences, linkages, and interactions between them,” (Anderson, 2016). In this performance, I focused on age-based differences and how those differences dictate our interactions. I told the true stories of two people who had encounters of older generations making snap judgments due to the differences they shared (in this case, it was the use of technology).
The younger generation suffers due to these interactions and it can be avoided if the older generation was more readily able to understand a different point of view, and the struggles this new generation are facing. The fourth objective also relates back to this performance. According to the syllabus, the fourth objective is, “Students will be able to recognize the interaction of social institutions, culture, and environment with the behavior of individuals,” (Anderson, 2016). My performance recognizes between the relationship between the older and the younger generations, the older generation holds the power.
They are the ones who are writing these articles to begin with. They continue to perpetuate these negative descriptors with the younger generation to the point where even the younger generation believes this themselves. The consistently impossible standards can cause a group of people to hate those around them, and breaks down their own self-esteem if they cannot live up to these standards. The juxtaposition I created with describing the struggles of those of the millennial generation while articles describing millennials as “the worst” exemplifies this interaction.
This performance touched upon the theory of performativity. According to Judith Butler, performativity is “a stylized repetition of acts,” (Madison and Hamera, 2006, pg. xviii). This performance has performers using an object in one way to then be used differently, and inverts the meaning of the same. In my instance, I used a cell phone as a way to exemplify how many others people see those on the phone (glued to it and not doing anything of importance). I then use it to call people and explain how in using technology for basic connections (such as checking if a class is canceled).
This shows that people using technology may be doing important things with it, such as connecting with people and help their education. In the end, I also went back to using the phone as I did in the beginning, this time, it makes people question what I am doing on the phone and has the audience face their first assumptions. This performance also utilized the theory of the alienation effect. According to Bell (2008), the alienation effect constitutes making everyday moments with a twist that has us question the moments (pg. 04).
My performance exemplified this by using an everyday motion of using a phone and having people question why I am using it and what for. Every day we see people on their cell phones, walking down the street or on public transportation. People make assumptions about how this is a time waster, and thus the generation who uses it the most must waste their time. Therefore, after people make these assumptions, I show the examples of how the idea of how the use of technology can benefit people’s lives.
This performance also looks at the theory which focuses on the triad of mimesis, poiesis, and kinesis. According to Madison (2005), mimesis is going through the motions of an action to simulate an experience (pg. 169). The performance uses mimesis at first because you only see me going through the motions of using the phone. The audience then has to assign meaning to what I could be possibly doing with my actions. Madison (2005) describes as poiesis as a way of assigning meaning to a motion described as mimesis (pg. 170).
Poiesis is exemplified in the performance when I start talking about how exactly I’m using my phone. According to Madison (2005), kinesis is when the efforts of both mimesis and poiesis combine to show “reflection and meaning now evoke intervention and change” (pg. 170). Kinesis is achieved when one takes in the meaning of what I’m saying on the phone along with the juxtaposition of articles playing behind me. I enjoyed putting the performance on, and I believe others did as well. However, looking at the performance from a critical eye and using the performance theories is important.
In using performativity, I am showing how the repetition of acts can send the message better than doing the act once. Through the alienation effect, using an everyday act helped make the audience think more critically about how we are viewed when doing everyday actions. Through mimesis, poiesis, and kinesis; I was able to challenge the institutions of power and look at how we interact with these institutions. I am not just performing for the sake of performing, but I am challenging the very institutions of power and criticizing how the world works.