Friday, May 06, 2005

Digital Pierrot

Digital Pierrot

Digital Pierrot (2002)

From the Associated Colleges of the South site:

The character of Pierrot (Pedrolino in his Italian incarnation) was a stock figure in the commedia dell’arte, a type of improvised theatre which flourished in northern Italy and elsewhere in Europe from the sixteenth century forward. Some of the other familiar characters from this genre were Harlequin, the sometimes sinister clown; Columbine, the young, beautiful sweetheart; Pulcinella, ancestor of Punch; and Scaramouche, the handsome cavalier. Each character dressed and behaved in a stereotypical manner. Pierrot began as a kind of side-show comedian who took part in the prologues to the regular performances, his specialty being imitations and caricatures. He was also an acrobat and tumbler. His garb was usually entirely white and included a large blouse, a high hat, and a powdered face. In performances these characters were given only a broad scenario and were expected to improvise according to what was expected of the character. They appeared at private and public gatherings and sometimes also in puppet shows such as Punch and Judy.


The character of Pierrot appeared frequently. According to Susan Youens, “Pierrots were endemic everywhere in late nineteenth/early twentieth century Europe as an archetype of the self-dramatizing artist, who presents to the world a stylized mask both to symbolize and veil artistic ferment, to distinguish the creative artist from the human being. Behind the all-enveloping traditional costume of white blouse, white trousers, and floured face, the Pierrot-character changed with the passage of time, from uncaring prankster to romantic malheureux to Dandy, Decadent, and finally, into a brilliant tormented figure submerged in a bizarre, airless inner world.”

And from Port of Spain's "The Festival of the Streets" page:

Pierrot Grenade: A Jester, dressed in rags with pretensions of being a literary master.


The original Pierrot was a princely character who made boastful speeches taken from literary classics and English history -- the Pierrot Grenade made absurd mocking speeches about self-imposed qualifications and his ability to spell any word. The Pierrot dressed in expensive detailed gowns with bells stitched to hundreds of little triangles -- the Pierrot Grenade attached sardine cans with stones in them to his costume made from strips of crocus bag and scraps of cloth. Pierrot carried a steel or lead-lined whip for territorial fighting -- Pierrot Grenade did not fight and carried a fake whip made from the firm vein of the banana leaf.

Sometimes, I make an image public. And it just lies there. It "dies" onstage.

Rim shot.

So how can such a hammy, pretentious clown successfully cross over digitally, you ask?

Short pause for dramatic effect.

It appears Pierrot no longer has anything to say.


You've been punk'd once more -- with pixels.

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