Home Biography Schedule Directory Writing Contact www.robindeacon.com

LIVE / 2005

A series of performances documented by television and radio.

PRESS RELEASE: Live by Robin Deacon is an investigation into the sensation of seeing oneself on television, or hearing ones voice on the radio. Over the period of the residency, Robin will contrive a series of appearances and interventions on these broadcast media, exploring the relationship between the body and voice in a live context, and in the context of 'being on TV.' The gallery will provide a base from which Robin will create an alternative schedule based on his attempted appearances, focussing on programmes that are live (news broadcasts, live events) or contain a participatory element (quiz shows, debates, phone-ins, etc). The format of this project will be task based, and could take the form of anything from a set amount of phone calls to a talk radio show, to merely being in shot during a specific outside news broadcast.


RIGHT: Piers Morgan, First Edition (Pilot) - In this case, a camera was smuggled into the studio (15/03/05), and used to film a programme that has not been subsequently broadcast.




Robin's actions and behaviour will be pre-arranged and codified to take on the role of agent provocateur, impostor or devils advocate - for example, getting the most basic of questions wrong during a quiz, or presenting extreme or strange viewpoints in a topical discussion. There is scope for tasks also being set by the gallery visiting audience. A schedule of possible appearances will be provided each day, and if the appearance happens outside of gallery hours, the audience will of course have the opportunity to 'tune in' in the comfort of their own homes. The documentation accumulated over the period of the project will be edited and displayed in the gallery, constantly updated and re-edited over the period of the project. In the case of a news broadcast, to 'be there' one has pre-empt, or even make news, so the possibility of failure is ever present. Bearing this in mind, live video and sound editing could also be utilised to transparently exaggerate or fabricate events, exploring the possibility of appearances on programmes being entirely created through a process of convincing enactments edited together with footage of the shows themselves. Can the failure to complete tasks (through fear or embarrassment in particular) can be played with, or 'redeemed' through the video editing process? Robin will set about remixing and changing the emphasis of existing television programmes through a series of live edits, the results of which will be made available for visitors to take home with them in tape form.

Examples include an edition of Question Time with all answers edited out, and episode of Eastenders with the dialogue removed entirely, and a South Park episode with the soundtrack swapped with a BBC News report about a high school shooting.


The following is a text compiled from a talk I gave at the Tabernacle Gallery in March 2005, and transcribed telephone conversations from the same period. It concerns my preparations for an appearance on The Wright Stuff, a topical television show on Channel 5. The conversations with the researcher are centred on the formulation of a question to ask the (at that time) leader of the UK Conservative party, Michael Howard. The footage of Howard was later used in my performance Dispatches, devised during a six week residency at the Sophiensaele in Berlin.

Robin (Tabernacle): Yesterday I was phoned by a researcher from the Wright Stuff...

Robin: Hello?

Researcher 1: Oh, hi Robin, it's Bob here from the Wright Stuff.

Robin: Hi Bob, alright?

Researcher 1: Also, did I say to you yesterday that it's going to have to be done on the phone.

Robin: Ok, that's a shame.

Robin (Tabernacle):Now originally, they'd asked me to come and be a member of the audience, but after about three or four telephone conversations, they decided they'd rather have me on the telephone. And I don't really quite know why that is.

Reseacher 1: But you will be called though...

Robin: Ok...

Researcher 1: Which in some ways is better because you will definitely, definitely, definitely get a chance to ask your question, cos' you will be called to ask your question if you see what I mean.

Robin (Tabernacle): And they're having Michael Howard, the leader of the conservative party as a guest...a sort of question and answer session going on tomorrow morning.

Researcher 1: Have you had a chance to think Robin?

Robin: Yeah, I've got a few things jotted down. For example this is one: Is it really possible to separate the issue of race from asylum and immigration, in that people's perceptions of what constitutes an 'outsider' is very much tied to appearance or skin colour?

Researcher 1: Right...

Robin (Tabernacle): But it was very interesting that when he was talking to me, it was nothing to do with me asking Michael Howard  what I think of him, or what his opinions are, or what my opinions on his policies are...the whole way the conversation was taken was in terms of:

Robin: This led me onto thoughts about the idea of multiculturalism within the UK, and how I've got this sense now that maybe...

Robin (Tabernacle): We have this theme, and would you like to ask a question on it?

Researcher 2: We're going to ask the following questions which are: Are the Tories racist? What's the Point of Prison? and, Escaping a Bad Image...in reference to the Tories.

Robin: And I was interested in asking the question as to whether he thought there were limits to multiculturalism, and if he believes that the idea of multiculturalism has failed the white population in some way.

Robin (Tabernacle): The researcher actually said to me he thought that I was being too analytical:

Researcher 1: It's kind of quite discursive rather than pointed if you see what I mean...and the Wright Stuff doesn't have time for...it's not Radio 4.

Robin (Tabernacle): So tomorrow I'm going to go on this programme as a phone guest. I'm trying to find ways of how you can use the format of television to document something else, I mean, the phrase I use is...'performances documented by television'. And it's that idea that tomorrow at nine o'clock on the Wright Stuff that I'm going to do a performance of some description, but I just don't really know what. The programme want me to ask a question on asylum and immigration:

Robin: Isn't it time to debunk this myth about the asylum seeking hordes?

Researcher 1: What this idea that we're all being flooded? Because he certainly likes to give that impression doesn't he?

Robin: Yeah...and obviously you're saying there isn't time for going into any great detail on these things, but the context of that is this idea of a politicians responsibilities.

Researcher 1: Well can we narrow it down then to either, isn't it time to debunk &asylum seeking hordes &or, whichever you prefer, why is your party so obsessed with immigration? You know, this idea that we all wake up in the morning and start worrying about immigration, when in fact, no we don't actually. Which would you prefer?

Robin (Tabernacle): So I'm going to hand out these bits of paper, and I just want people to write down what they think I could do to subvert that format in some way. And I'm going to choose one of these, and I'm going to try and do it tomorrow, rather than me just asking the question, and that being it.

Robin (Tabernacle): Its interesting talking to people, because everyone says there's probably going to be a sound delay on the programme, so if you're being peculiar, then they'll probably cut you off.

Robin: I think that fact that so many politicians are lawyers...or trained as lawyers...a lot of these questions are quite easy to answer. Um, the 'Isn't it time to debunk this myth about the asylum seeking hordes?' I like that as a...

Researcher 1: Ok...

Robin: It seems like there's more of a potential for a provocation there...


Robin: Hello?

Researcher 3: Hello, is that Robin?

Robin: Yes.

Researcher 3: It's The Wright Stuff calling. Are you still ok to talk to us this morning?

Robin: Yes, that's great, that's fine.

Researcher 3: What we've got down for you specifically in this part is...we're talking about 'are Tories racist?' You're asking the question, 'Isn't it time to debunk this myth about the asylum seeking hordes?' The we're flooded by immigrants. Ok? So, you can talk about your background, and what you've got to say, and then ask your question.

Robin: Ok, fantastic.

Researcher 3: So, I just have to run through some legals with you. It's very important mot to mention anyones name who's not in the public eye, any intimate family matters, locations, commercial products...please do not swear or ask for autographs. I'm sure you wouldn't...

Robin: No, I don't want Michael Howards autograph.

Researcher 3: Ok, so just stay on the line Robin and we'll be with you soon.

Matthew Wright: Well let's throw it open to the people at home if we can. Corrine, let's take some calls.

Corinne: Ok, let's go to Robin from London on line one first.

Michael Howard: Robin, Good Morning, your question for Michael Howard please.

Robin Deacon: Hi, Mr Howard, Good morning.

Michael Howard: Good Morning.

Robin Deacon: Bram Stokers 'Dracula' can be seen as a commentary on the public's perceived fears about the 19th Century wave of Eastern European immigration. In the light of tabloid caricatures of you, what do you make of the tabloids stirring up the public's fears in our current situation? and don't you have a personal responsibility to debunk this myth of asylum seeking hordes?

Matthew Wright: OK, let's pick on that, Michael.

Michael Howard: Well, Robin...I think that um...I keep looking over there, but he's not over there!

Matthew Wright: It's the wonder of television!

Michael Howard: Well, I...I don't think...look, I've never used the kind of language that you've used Robin, and I've always used very responsible language, about this subject, but as I've just explained to Matthew, think that we have to have an immigration system that is under control, and there has to be a limit. If things go on as they are, we will have over the next few years, over 6 million more people in this country, most of them will be immigrants, that's an increase in the population 6 times the size of Birmingham, and that will really impose strains and stresses on our social services, on our security, and on our community relations...