Thinking laterally and vertically and conjuring new realities

TEST

This post also appears as an entry on The Red LineSouth East Dance‘s blog exploring dramaturgical thinking.

conjuring-new-realities

A desire to learn more about dramaturgical approaches and to test them out on the germ of an idea for a new work led me to this workshop organised by South East Dance. Through group activities we explored “the potential of language as a generative form” and I left Martin Hargreave’s workshop with many strategies for getting outside my own ‘natural’ processes, and for approaching my research in both a more frivolous, and voluminous way. Do lots. Discard later.

Richard Serra’s Verb List 1967-68 – which we employed (see photograph in Adrienne Hart’s blog post) – provides a useful metaphor for some of the tasks and approaches we undertook. You can think across the list both horizontally and vertically, or randomly, exploring the connections and contradictions between words and ideas, following fruitful correspondences, discarding others (for now).

A collaborative manifesto-writing task produced something for the idea I am researching. I find it fascinating that the words of others could help me to draw together, tease out and name some of the principles behind a work that is, for now, a rough muddle in my head. Especially since, up to now it has existed as a kind of out-of-focus image‑gallery.

Adding to the manifestos accumulating on The Red Line, here is the current iteration:

 

Manifesto for (Preparing to) Making Art with Guests 1

Be a Host (ess).

Take care of the space. Make it inviting.

Bring sustenance for you and your guests.

Create a convivial environment in which connections can emerge, listening can take place and the impossible can be imagined.

Imagine the impossible.

 

Collect and assemble starting points or puzzles for your guests.

Guide your guests through mapping, describing and articulating.

Assemble and use ordinary objects that excite you/them.

Make your guests Protagonists.

Do what you want.

Do what they want.

 

Listen to The Smiths.

 

Take things apart and remake them.

Make visible your Guests chameleon-like nature – their thick-and-thin skinned-ness.

Make a record of the record.

 

Give meaning and hope to frustration and suffering.

Louise Bourgeois

 

Reading through the first few entries about this workshop on The Red Line I would also like to steal (borrow/try for size) from a fellow artist who attended the Test workshop. I adopt a second set of principles for this work from Re‑Manifesto.

 

Manifesto for (Preparing to) Making Art with Guests 1.1

I am an acrobat of time.

Space has no meaning.

I’m a healer.

 

Professional Development supported through South East Dance and Jerwood Charitable Foundation Dramaturg in Residence Programme 2016/17.

Published!

IJSC vol 4 cover

The International Journal of Screendance Volume 4 is now online, including my essay

“Cutting across the century: an investigation of the close up and the long-shot in “cine-choreography” since the invention of the camera.”

Really looking forward to some fascinating reading material!

Do have a look and let me know your thoughts.

 

Krapp’s Last Tape

I’ve just listened to Samuel Beckett’s play Krapp’s Last Tape, a version broadcast on April 9th 2006 by Radio 3.  Krapp is performed by Corin Redgrave.

Every year on his birthday, Krapp, who is a writer, records a tape.  Krapp is making his sixty-nineth tape.  In the play we listen to the sixty-nine year old Krapp, and listen with him as he listens back to recordings from earlier birthdays.

I love how the structure of the play alludes to how we visit, and re-visit memories, how we change them, how our feelings about them change over time, or don’t, how they can become distant or instantly refreshed, holding a power and weight of meaning that surprises us.

I love how the mechanical noise of the tape spooling in the recorder marks the passing of time, like a clock.  And marks the passing of Krapp’s time.

In his introduction, the Radio 3 presenter Robbie Meredith says that Beckett had been inspired by listening to a tape recording of one of his own plays:

“Beckett became fascinated by the quality of recorded sound, the way it creates present history, and yet plays with time”

“In short, landscape is the link between our outer and inner selves”.

Images of Bill Viola, The Dreamers, 2013

Title quote from Bill Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House, Writings, p.253

Bill Viola’s words have crystallised something for me.  They connect many of the strands that seem to crop up in my work…  the experience of the body, of time, of the landscape as a physical thing.  The body as conduit of the experience (simultaneously) of time and landscape, the body as a landscape in the frame.

Or rather, I don’t know if these things are apparent in my work, however, they are things which inform the choices I make.

As well as the sight of landscape, the sound of landscape enters the works.  The sound of the rain and the wind in Snöplog.  And Figure(s) became a sound piece – a “sculpting of time” (Viola again) through sound, object and body – falling beans alluding to waves, pebbles and the time of landscape, of the body, not of the mind.

“If you look at landscape in historical terms, you realize that most of the time we have been on Earth as a species, what has fallen on our retina is landscape, not images of buildings and cars and street lights.”  Bill Viola

Cited here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bill_viola.html#DzmPS0ioD0Puf5Fw.99

Sculpting time – Bill Viola

“Sculpting time”: is how Bill Viola defines his art. “Time is the basic material of film and video. The mechanics of it may be cameras, film stock, and tape, but what you are working with is time. You are creating events that are going to unfold, on some kind of rigid channel that is embodied in a strip of tape or celluloid, and that thing is coiled up as a potential experience to be unrolled. In a certain way it is like a scroll, which is one of the most ancient forms of visual communication.” ¹

This time is something Bill Viola likes to extend, repeat and decelerate — as if to show us all its contours, all its forms.

It is an aesthetic not unrelated to the practice of meditation, which focuses on the present moment, zeroing in on hte subject on order to perceive it more precisely. What can I see? For the artist, the camera is that second eye that “re-teaches us how to see” and addresses the world beyond, or beneath, appearances.

(my italics)

Jérôme Neutres in Bill Viola – Album Bilangue de L’Exposition au Grand Palais, Paris 2014

¹ “The Universe continues to be in the present tense,” in Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House, writings 1973–1994, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1995, p. 253.

Clocks for seeing – Roland Barthes

… the only thing that I tolerate, that I like, that is familiar to me, when I am photographed, is the sound of the camera. For me, the Photographer’s organ is not his eye (which terrifies me) but his finger: what is linked to the trigger of the lens, to the metallic shifting of the plates (when the camera still has such things). … For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches—and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing and perhaps in me someone very old still hears in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.

Barthes on the stills camera

The camera as a means to mark, or measure the course of time.  Or duration?

And what of the symbolic association with a living thing, a tree?  Duration again?