Warm Up to the Warm Up

Over the last year or so, I have been experimenting with performance. Recently this has largely been centred around interacting with polystyrene objects that I have been making. This has involved a lot of improvisation, as I have been playing with ideas as they come to me, and filming as I go. Over this time, I have adopted a few processes I go through in order to loosen up for these interactions. This mainly involves walking around the object in different ways and observing it, in order to become comfortable. I decided to play on these warm up activities and form them into instructions, for anyone out there who is struggling to interact with their polystyrene.

Below is a film documenting the writing process, as I walk myself through the warm up and note down the different steps.


After coming up with written instructions, I played around with them a little. I tried reading them out in different ways, and singing them to various songs (this can be seen at https://phoebebanks.wordpress.com/2018/04/02/polystyrene-rendition/). The following is a film of myself whilst I was improvising in the sound booth, trying to come up with alternative directions these instructions could go in.

At the start of this I am trying to form some kind of make-shift beat with my hair clip to sing instructions to, then I try whistling between polystyrene related exercises. Then I start speaking some kind of shit introduction to the warm up session, as if welcoming clients to a class that I am taking. This is simply verbalisation of my stream of thought, yet I deemed it worth documenting as there may be something to play with there, should I wish to return to it.

I enjoy the idea of an instructional video that informs you how to do something that is completely pointless. Surely there is no one who requires help interacting with polystyrene, but I thought I should make this helpful film – just in case.


The instructions are as follows:

Warm Up Exercised For Interacting With Polystyrene:

  1. Engage the brain.                                                                                                                 Have a coffee with polystyrene. Look at it. Try and maintain eye contact as far as possible.
  2. Begin to walk.                                                                                                                Consider polystyrene from all angles. Coffee should be finished by this point.
  3. Approach polystyrene from various directions with altering speeds.                        Put yourself to moderate strain – this will show polystyrene that you are keen to interact.
  4. Change the levels.                                                                                                                 Make the polystyrene higher than you – this will alter the hierarchy of the situation. Dust yourself down. Presentability will help polystyrene to respect you.
  5. Time to break the physical barrier.                                                                                              Only if feeling confident.                                                                                                      Back off. Approach slowly and carefully with arm of choice extended. Gently prod with middle finger and hold.

Congratulations. An elementary level of polystyrene interaction has now been achieved.



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