Imagine, if you will, a Petrie dish or a test tube. A test tube is a glass tube, closed at one end. Usually the end is rounded and the opposite end has a slight lip around the opening.
In a lab a test tube can be used many times. Many different reagents are added to the test tube; experiments are carried out. Acids and bases, metals. Water is split into hydrogen and oxygen; nylon is created. A vast array of experiments can be carried out in a single test tube.
If the experimenters are good and follow a strict protocol, they clean the test tube out each time after their experiments. This is done so that the reagents and results from the previous experiments do not affect the following experiments.
Yes, the information learned from previous experiments informs how the experimenters view the results of their next experiments. Yes, the previous experiments will affect what experiments are later run. Yes, what experiments run in other test tubes in other labs affects through the knowledge of the experimenters what happens in said test tube. But the experiment itself is not affected by the reagents of the previous experiments.
The empty performance space is a test tube. It is a blank space that can be a place to run experiments. What has happened in the space before, in other test tubes in other labs, does not have to affect what will happen next in the space. What has come before affects what will come next only in the minds of the experimenters – the performers and audience.
As performers, creators, artists, we need to recognize that a blank slate is possible. If we can clean out a test tube, a petrie dish, wipe a chalk board clean, we can also start with a blank(referenceless) performance space.