The notion of connection implies that we begin with distance, and one may argue that the minimum connection is self-awareness. Self-perception both connects experience with selfhood and creates the need to connect with the other. Though theologians speak of reconciliation with the divine, such mystical connection may be, in part, a defense against isolation.
We are inherently social creatures, chatty pattern makers. We take pleasure in associating with others, identifying cause and effect, and making predictions. Isolation traumatizes us, leading to mystical ecstasy at best but, far more often, despair and the inability to imagine reconnection. Thus theology is a salvation only as the happier and more sustaining alternative in the extremity of isolation. Yet the ubiquity of theology is necessarily equivalent to the incidence of disconnection and isolation. The importance of isolation and connection in human experience extends to the dynamic questions that arise from two key activities: the experience of solitude and object performance.
In the former, we isolate one focal point of human connection. It’s like learning about a stream by damming its source: we see both how the spring fills behind the dam and what lies under the surface of the stream by removing much of what sculpts it, freezing the fluid structure of the stream bed to see what its made of.
In the latter, we break up the flow of connection as the attention of performer and audience is filtered through an object–a puppet. Puppetry permits the greatest possible separation between audience and performer while maintaining a live, communal interaction. That puppet may be as far removed from the operator as a signal can reach or separated by no more than the performer’s heightened awareness of her own body. The puppeteer brings the object to life by focusing her attention on the object adjusting it to match her intended actions in a moment to moment basis and responding (to varying degrees) to the audience response to those adjustments.
Between these lies solo play, especially that which involves objects. What role do objects enact in the experience of extended solitude? How does the experience of prolonged solitude change with the presence or absence of objects? Who are we when we’re alone, and how do we transform between solitude and community?