Flesh & Text

a document: CD-ROM (2002)

When we started making work in 1989, we were sceptical about documentation, fearful that the documents of performance would be used to replace performance itself, that it was easier to watch the video than go to see the show. This meant that the archival remains of those early works are patchy and incomplete. In 1996, with Do the Wild Thing! we realized that companies who had good documentation were better able to thrive, so we decided to ensure that all our future work would be well documented. We produced multi-camera video records alongside catalogues and booklets of scripts and images.

In 2001, in collaboration with Iain Simons from Suppose design and Tony Judge, we made Flesh & Text, the first CD-ROM collection of archival materials from one performance company. Covering our first 11 shows, it included scripts, publicity, photographs, video, interviews with members of the company, written reflections from a range of commentators, and two extended hyper-texts from the co-directors that linked together the various documents to tell the many stories of the many bodies of Bodies in Flight. As a research project that crossed both professional practice and academia, it was jointly funded by Arts Council England and The Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Today, developments in software mean that this document is inaccessible – the fate of much digital art and archives. However, an emulation of some aspects of the CD-ROM’s functionality is presented here.

Since producing Flesh & Text, both co-directors have published extensively on the company’s work in journals and edited collections (see examples below).