Shooting People

by Ash Eliza Smith |

Shooting People doubles as a gesture in both performance and cinema in order to explore the political history of war, cinema, choreography and representation….hence the name Shooting People. In the performance the artifice of cinema is ripped open and often scrutinized as it doubles as a war battalion and journalist/bystander. The camera doubles as a gun in the Second and third acts and reverberates in new ways with recent events around gun violence and (body) cameras. The entire film is in three Acts where space and time collapses and the battalions carry ghosts on a stretcher and wheelchair with camera/guns intact. Shooting People is informed by the San Diego Museum of Art’s history of being used as a hospital during WWII and the history of the camera, the gun and representation.

In 1943 during World War II the San Diego Museum of Art was requisitioned for military use along with the other cultural facilities in Balboa Park. The United States Navy converted the Museum into a hospital housing 423 beds, X-ray facilities, and a surgical suite….Some ghosts remain.

The performance will double as a film shoot that will act less as documentation but rather as a performing archive that gestures towards time, space and (im)permanence. Cameras will double as guns and vice/versa, together both machines will SHOOT ON SITE.

This is a story of a woman, R(e)yoko, who is played by two characters (younger and older versions) who will travel through the 1940’s hospital on separate journeys. R(e)yoko will come face to face with herself on three transformative occasions in the main rotunda where time collapses and life, death, memory, identity will be confronted through the device of the double.

I am the camera’s eye. I am the machine which shows you the world as I alone see it. Starting from today, I am forever free of human immobility. I am in perpetual movement. I approach and draw away from things-I crawl under them- I am on the head of a galloping horse-I burst at full speed into a crowd-I run before running soldiers-I throw myself down on my back-I rise up with the airplanes-I fall and I fly at one with the bodies falling or rising through the air. -Dziga Vertov  (from War and Cinema by Paul Virilio)


Prologue (outside by fountain in front of museum)
Act I (Camera/Camera)
Act 2 (Gun/Gun)
Act 3 (Camera/Gun)


1. Play is for itself. It serves no external goal.
2. Play exists outside the scope of ordinary life.
3. Play operates within fixed boundaries of time and space, with its own set of rules.
4. Play is labile. Though it can completely absorb the player, “ordinary life” can reassert itself at anytime.

The boundaries of the playspace begin to disappear…In a world of immersive simulation the real doesn’t leak into the playworld; the playworld leaks into the real.

LOOK at the camera.

When there is a Red Flag attached then the camera it is a gun.

WHEN there is NO FLAG the Camera is a Camera.

REACT Accordingly…


  • Choreography: Christine Herde , Compositions: Phil Skaller, Producer: Germany (Robert) Steinberger, Line producer: Samuel Bengtsson, Recording Engineer: Andrew Montoya
  • R(e)yoko played by: Ryoko Amadee Goguen and Yoko Matsumoto
    Act 2 Song by Ryoko Amadee Goguen
  • Cameras: Jeremy Rojas, Brian Taylor, Joshua Atkin, Huy Trinh,
  • Ensemble Cast: Micki Davis, Jesus Uribe, Jeff Graves, Chance McManus, Jaymee Ngernwichit, Daniel McDonald, Nicolette Cook, Dancers: Arthur Huang, Emily Aust, Mambo Dancers: Jamie Lynch
    Musicians: Leslie Leytham: Voice, Leah Bowden: Drums, Andrew Allen: Sousaphone, Phil Skaller: Piano


Ash Eliza Smith is a multimedia artist and writer. She has produced and directed shorts that explore technology and the body for Vice, Motherboard and the Creator’s Project. She has written for Rhizome and the New Media Caucus journal and her music videos have premiered with The Fader and Impose Magazine.

Smith has exhibited internationally including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, South by Southwest, San Diego Museum of Art, Mexicali Rose and The LAB in San Francisco and has been teaching artist for The New Children’s Museum.  Smith has worked with Schools Without Borders in Havana, Cuba and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics in NYC and Brazil and the Nobel Peace Center. She was a producer for Doug Aitken’s Sleepwalkers in collaboration with the MoMA and Creative Time in NYC. Smith received an MA from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts in Performance Studies and an MFA from UCSD’s Visual Arts program.