The Last Checkpoint on “The Last Performance”

For my last checkpoint, I truly hit a wall; I didn’t know what to do! So, I looked at the handy, dandy electronic lit. directory to pick one of the works to focus on when I came across one called The Last Performance. The title seemed fitting (haha) so I decided to analyze this text by Judd Morrissey for my final checkpoint.

This project by Morrissey was created back in 2007 in response to the last performance of the Chicago-based performance group, Goat Island after 20 years of performing. The work is presented on a website that is cut into three sections: the dance, the performance space, and the dome. When you first click on the page, it directs you to “the dance” portion. Here, it is essentially text that has come to live; it moves and flows into different patterns and shapes (see pictures below).

I thought this one was really cool!

One of my favourite parts was “the dome” section. This section portrays the collaborative aspect of the piece. When you first look at the page, you see a ton of words floating around (see below).

Then, when you move your cursor over one of the words, a vortex-looking pop-up appears, which shows more information on it.

If you click on it, then you’ll be directed to a “lens” that was submitted by a user for this project.

In the project, there are 4680 different “lens” that are divided into six different sectors that make up “the dome.” In these “lens,” the participants had to respond to one of the four topics that were provided, such as “construct a last performance in the form of a heavy foot that weighs 2 tons and remains in good condition.”

The final part called “the performance space” was really bizarre to me. I guess it was because I didn’t really understand it without looking up parts of it and trying to Google the project to get other people’s insight on it. In this section, There was a round picture of a building (which I later discovered was the Dzamija). The Dzamija is mosque located in Zagreb, Croatia.

(On a side note: how were we supposed to know exactly which building that was???)

Then, the picture changed to this one…

The picture above seems to depict two people doing some sort of performance or interpretative dance.

When you click on the picture, it changes to a black screen with six white dots. When you click on the dots, they expand to different options you can select:

When you click on one of the options, then you are directed to a poem. The one I found the most interesting was this one:

I thought this poem was really interesting because of the shape of the poem and the line breaks that are actually used to break words apart. The shape of the poem kind of reminds me of a yin-and-yang picture, where the N’s can represent the little dots on opposing sides (can you see it? or am I just crazy?)

After going through all three sections, I was confused to say the least. What’s so great about Goat Island? Why the Dzamija? I had so many questions that Morrissey’s project seemed foreign to me. Therefore, I did what most confused college kids do nowadays: I googled it!

I came across this site that is really similar to the Electronic Book Review. The author of the site didn’t really talk about the inspiration behind the project (Goat Island); however they did reference the Dzamija. He said that “the visual architecture of The Last Performance is based on research into ‘double buildings,’ a phrase used here to describe spaces that have housed multiple historical identities, with a specific concern for the Hagia Sophia and the functions of churches, mosques, and museums. The central structure of The Last Performance is a virtual dome, based upon the cupola of a particular double building, the Dzamija (translated as ‘mosque’) in Zagreb, Croatia.” Oh, okay. That makes it clear?

Overall, I thought that this collaborative project was really interesting (especially the layout of it in the “dome” section). I just wish I knew more about the context of the work so I can fully understand it, a problem I face frequently in most of my literature courses. I guess regardless of whether it’s published in a physical book or digitally, context will always have some power over understanding a work.

But what do you guys think? Have any of you seen the Goat Island performance group, and if so, do you see the connection between them and Morrissey’s work? Leave a comment below!

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