When I came up with the idea for the Ethometric Museum I was visiting the Bakken Museum of Electricity and Life in Minneapolis. I was touring my sound art installation/performance Siren with my friends and colleagues Harry Dawes and Stavroula Kounadea. We were shown around the normally closed Bakken Vault by Julia, the curator, the keeper of the collecting and historian of the Bakken’s amazing artefacts. When I realised that I needed a ‘Julia’ character in the Ethometric Museum it was an obvious choice to involve Stavroula in the project to play this role. From the start I wanted this role to be convincing, for the curator to be a ‘real person’ in order to help create the sense that maybe these Ethometric Instruments that I had made were actually original, authentic scientific instruments from another age.
Stavroula is an incredible performer. She combines her disciplined, highly technical craft as a performer, developed through her intensive theatrical training as well as her professional theatre and TV career in Athens, with a tremendous eye for detail and her ability to breath life into her characters. This is so evident in her own work as a performance artist in works like ‘Cow’ for example (see stavroulakounadea.com).
When we were in residence at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford developing the final version of the Ethometric Museum she followed and closely observed the guides at the Museum who were showing the public around the museum’s collection of historic scientific exhibits and picked up on their particular and idiosyncratic ways of engaging their audiences. “It seems that we have a little bit of time left… let me show you this, it’s my favourite instrument in the entire museum….”. The review of our performances at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 in Total Theatre described her:
“deadpan but genuine excitement”
at the instruments in her collection. So convincing was she as ‘Dr’ Kounadea that a remarkable number of our audiences were completely convinced by the ‘reality’ of Ethometric Instruments Ltd and its altogether dubious history….