video, 12 mins, 2021
Sweetener takes its title from the TV production practice of 'sweetening' the response of a live studio audience with pre-recorded laughter samples. Set against the colours of Battenberg cake and Mr Blobby, the film simulates a well-behaved audience via post-production collage, providing a laugh track for our everyday sitcom of shared delirium.
As they watch some unseen performance, the audience see-saws between forced and spontaneous laughter. Kept apart by the threat of viral transmission, they somehow manage to stay synchronised; laughter proves infectious.
The video blurs the space between live and recorded, authentic and fake, whilst gesturing towards the almost comical fatigue of a year in lockdown. As polite chuckles mutate into hysteria, the crowd appears to ask, 'are you feeling what I'm feeling?'
Sweetener was commissioned by the Performance Research Network at Newcastle University.
Created and performed by Clara Potter-Sweet and Ben Kulvichit
Outside eye & post-production sound Nat Norland
From 5 May 2021 / Performance Research Network, Online 'Liveness' Exhibition