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Deconstruction is such an overused word these days. Why back when I was a whippersnapper like this young Hinck fella, if you talked about deconstruction it meant you had damn well better have read Derry-whatsisname. Or at least the jacket copy on several of his books. Nowadays, the Internet shows me 15 ways I can use “deconstruct” in a sentence! It’s the decline of ...
OMG, I just realized ... meanings change over time!
Tim Hinck has more in common with a self-taught inventor than a decon-artist. Sure, he disassembles the pieces of performance. But he’s more interested in seeing what happens when he reassembles them than in talking about his analysis.
As a culture, we love the image of technical tinkering—Edison with vacuum tubes, Steve Jobs with circuit boards, or the mythical 14-year old who can show you how to configure your wireless network. Artistic tinkering is a tougher sell. Audiences hated Impressionism when it first showed up in the 1870s, and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” ballet is said to have caused a near-riot at its Paris premier in 1913.
The fallout from messing around with stuff appears later, but tampering with meaning—especially with how meaning is created—is taken as an in-your-face assault on truth.
It’s hard to imagine Hinck’s challenging work on that seemingly inevitable slide from cultural threat to comforting staple. But in a world where the average TV commercial would look like avant-garde filmmaking to your grandfather, anything can happen.
Hinck performed his version of a manifesto last year in Tanner Hill Gallery. Surrounded by images on the walls, a piano half on the floor and a hunk of granite that he dragged across the concrete floor, he banged on a manual typewriter and drew lines on his naked body. Lines in the sand maybe, daring the space outside his body to cross them? Or maybe waiting for the next wave to wash them away?
See what I did there? It’s fun—maybe necessary—to find meaning in gestures that don’t hand their meanings to you on a plate. Hinck tries to remove the meaning—even the plate—and work with the raw material.
Hinck’s latest work is also his most ambitious. “Cyclopaedia” explores how mass media makes us think, how the proliferation of messages and their accompanying distortion shape us.
Traditionally, he says, “Any distortion is unwanted, but to me that’s the essence of it. Any art is distorted. Any created object is distorted. We distort every piece of information we have.”
Thanks to a MakeWork grant, “Cyclopaedia” will be the fullest realization yet of Hinck’s artistic ideas. There will be more than 30 musicians, actors and dancers, including five students from the Center for Creative Arts. Multimedia will include animation, recorded sound, video from five projectors and text from four old-fashioned overhead projectors.
I watched a rehearsal with two dancers.
“Tim has pretty much asked us not to be dancers,” said Cayce Gearrin, a veteran of previous Hinck projects who graduated from UTC last December. “Our role is to not draw in the audience into a story about our characters. We are two objects on stage that have a role that Tim sees as being a part of the larger piece of the show.”
“Part of what’s been harder for me is to let go of technique, being more punctual and final with my movements,” added Darcii Wright, a junior at CCA. “We’re supposed to be people who don’t really have much of a narrative beyond what we’re doing. It’s just movement.”
Wright’s spidery movements floated over Gearrin’s earthy groundedness. There I go, making meaning again. But it’s also literal: one remains constantly on the floor, the other stays aloft. Both are literally bound to pieces of PVC pipe that they use like prosthetics.
And each is bound invisibly to the other. Tim’s choreography calls for Wright to make a series of taps with her sticks and feet and for Gearrin to tap her response. In several run-throughs, he directs them to move a little closer, tap a little harder or lighter. They twine around each other in an improvisational dynamic that changes every time. The limiting props facilitate a surprisingly complex set of movements that suggests (to me, anyway) lightness and weight.
In the actual production, their interaction will be one iteration of a “triangle of objects” that recurs with different performers—a small confined action stage left, a static object stage right and the color orange moving left to right across the stage.
The open-ended exchange between Gearrin and Wright, with each dancer choosing how to respond to the other rather than following choreography, is a deliberate artistic choice by Hinck. “I think that speaks to the core concept of ‘Cyclopaedia,’ which is us taking information and then as artists distorting that information, coloring it, using it and filtering it,” he said. “Is this a self-indulgent activity, or is this what really is great about being human beings?”
Tim Hinck’s “Cyclopaedia” • $15 • 7:30 p.m. • $5 (students with ID) • Feb. 21-25 • Center for Creative Arts • 1301 Dallas Road