jess prusa


more signs than sun

pt I: high watt beam layer as a tantrum of love    /   pt II: light tunneled into thin blue lines

More Signs than Sun is a poetic, non-linear, experimental text of shifting forms—mixing elements of pop culture, dance, film, and technology with lyrical dialogue to create a world as disorientating as our own. As yet, uncategorized in form. technically, translated into 2 full length plays, written for a cast of 6, in the continuous present, without recurring scenes/characters. Distilled, the content can be best described as American, with an emphasis on the media and other forces shaping our collective psyche. an exercise in challenging, through the voice’s’ of 143 characters, what it is :
to be ‘whole’.
to embody a whole
to me, to you =  as bodies = as hole, as pole
re: points of separation


-- form --



-- process --

PART I
prologue

MSTS started as a storybook based off a series of ink drawings I made in 2013. This became the prologue and foundation of the play. 
Download here.


act 1

All characters in the play are based off the same series of ink drawings I’d made between 2013-15. These drawing grew in complexity as time progressed. In Act 1, these characters were used to develop portraits of different forms of media. Like the prologue, each scene was driven by dialogue rather than setting or plot but the content didn’t really lend itself to any form I was familiar with. So I began experimenting.  First with huge digital posters of each scene - like a still frame of simulatneous live action (Fig 1) and eventually,  smaller, image-only posters (Fig 2)  to mark  (and keep track) of each form of media I’d composed. Without recurring characters or throughlines, visually mapping the project became extremely important. Here are two versions of the same scene.

fig 1
                                                                            fig 2


    


act 2


The logic of characters becoming more complex as the project continued,  from a composition standpoint, expanded when I entered what would become Act 2 of the project. I had about 120 drawings left to choose from so I began expanding my definition of complexity, in search of an additional visual component, or commonality, between the drawings I’d use to develop the characters in Act 2. I landed upon the direction of their gaze : choosing figures who were looking right with both or the predominate eye on their face. This gave rise to the idea of psychological complexes one develops in attempting to appease / adhere to / or simply exist within varying oppressive societies. The degree to which one suffers, in the framework of Act 2, being related to one’s progression of consciousness - the awareness of one’s being oppressed. These characters and their complexes became documentary subjects in Act 2, whose choices were influneded by their media foundation, outlined in Act 1.

PART II



act logic : foundation
Instead of developing characters from isolated figures, I pulled smaller images I’d isolated in making character boards for an animation project back in 2015. Once I had what felt like enough, I began mapping out the characters in Google drawings, developing a loose cyclical sequence that’d become the narrative arc used to develop each scene in Act 1.  I continued this sequencing for each Act in Part II, using the original images to generate related, but different characters. 

I began reshaping the ‘storyboard’ in Google drawings  to create a new structure for each Act.  Eventually, each Act had a visual map that, when laid out one next to another, lead me to understand and categorize the relation and narrative progression each act was fulfilling in Part II.
 
characters

visual maps : Act 1, Scenes 1-6
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visual maps : Act 1-4
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installation

Near the end of the project, once I started seeing it as a play, I began storyboarding each scene as a way to edit and re-familiarize myself with content I’d written months before. With the lighting being as important to the script as wrods, I laid out the play in 3D form to understand the interplay of shadow and illumination on the text, using the storyboards as stand ins for action sequences.


PART I

prologue : extension processing

a circle of ndistinct entities lit from a center highbeam



act 1 : local programming  

media portraits lit from below





act 2 : nationwide presenting

documentary subjects lit in the center, from the outside


PART II

memories and dreams lit from above, first in green then blue