Concepts of normality / This is your life is a new research project I will develop through 2018 + 2019. I will work with movement, text, sound, object and film to reveal evidence.
I want to explore concepts of normality by a way of questioning and exploring examples of such - not to conclude or answer the mundane question of what is normal? (as I think this is too naive) but to open up deeper reflection of normality in contemporary society and so tackling this subject in varied ways by evaluating religious ethics , social philosophy, art, psychology, marriage and education. Digging into such topics by reflecting on my own life and experiences plus exploring further research and conversation I will hold with collaborative artists. Looking through these lenses at times revealing evidence through story telling using text, song, poetry and dance to communicate this.
I intend not to spoon feed a concluded idea of normality but rather explore all angles of this topic and history and so leaving space in my sharing/performance for the audience to reflect on their own thoughts and feelings of normality and decisions they take in their own life within regards to the existence of human life and the relationships created between one human being and another.
Week 1 - Residency at Dance base , Edinburgh. 17/09/18 - 21/09/18
I started out the week by taking the time to explore movement again, noticing my habitual patterns and first choice of movement… all I have learned, experienced, imagined, copied, remembered and expected. It took me a couple of days to find myself through movement again yet I gave myself just enough compassion and time for my mind and body to connect and feel grounded… as the week went by I found a more honest response to why and how I am moving through space and so started to feel inspired and excited in challenging my movement vocabulary.
I explored new and different movement tasks, themes and choices to invigorate the mind and body in a reactionary way, at times leaving the body close to falling and so having to rely on natural/learned/sub conscious reflexes to respond and inevitably save my body in the situation.
I spent some afternoons and evenings letting my mind and notepad connect again, starting to ignite poetry and text in response to my reading and contemplation surrounding this huge theme of concepts of normality. Noticing rhythm, phrasing, breath and sound in space with a desire to develop poetry and movement simultaneously.
A snippet from - Gender normal.
'Objectified human collecting object and scrutiny; Associating what you are not
A fold of material ironing out the creases created evidence now objections that - you are who they say you were from day dot.
A crack in the legs to determine the colour of the bed spread on all fours screaming bloody murder for the unborn , expressing milk and formula and staining the walls of the church of normality; Suppressing / growing minds / no more.
Great expectations of your pre and dominantly and determined shape of cock (that kicks and screams) and balls for the freedom of skirt that reveals -
A man is just a man, until you learn what makes you less than
Catching sounds through the waves like ‘be human, be you man’
if only, I hear
Hype through the stereo / type…
Don’t believe the shite!
I started to notice patterns of thought surrounding the research project. Association of word and play and where and how this effects my creative mind - feeling little jitters of inspiration connecting ‘normality - object - representation’. - Much more to explore now concerning this.
End of week one :)
WEEK 2 / DANCE BASE , EDINBURGH. RESIDENCY. 22/10/2018 - 26/10/2018.
In having space and time to reflect on my previous studio time I realised I needed to clear up my intention for the upcoming residencies of 2018. I decided to explore birth as a topic and started to piece thoughts, words, and movement together and will continue to do with both Sean and Lucas , resulting with what I hope will be a performance installation.
Concepts of normality: Birth (and creation).
In the beginning there is relation. Buber.
Every child that is coming into being rests,like all life that is coming into being, in the womb of the great mother, the undivided primal world that precedes form. From her too, we are separated, and enter into personal life, slipping free only in the dark hours to be close to her again; night by night this happens to the healthy man. But this separation does not occur suddenly and catastrophically like the separation from the bodily mother; time is granted to the child to exchange a spiritual connection, that is relation, for the natural connection with the world that he gradually loses. He has stepped out of the glowing darkness of chaos into the cool light of creation. But he does not possess it yet; he must first draw it out, he must make it into a reality for himself, he must find for himself his own world by seeing and hearing and touching and shaping it. Creation reveals in meeting, it’s essential nature as form. BUBER.
In chatting with Sean I learned that when he writes he sometimes makes conscious choices in placement of words on page i.e. in the margin or the centre of the page, this gives his poetry a new dynamic that brings a rhythm and a changed experience when composing his sentences and form. I like this very much and found it useful to help create my poem (now song) that I wrote during this time, I will also come back to this method further down the line when I create a text and dance in response to this concepts of Birth Installation; Death. (more to come in December). i.e.-
Sean and I took a day to write and reflect individually. The next morning we read to each other what we had been working on, we spent time in the studio holding mic, setting up keyboard and wondering how to compose / score our poetry. After some time we started to play music we enjoy and shared this with each other - Daniel Johnston, Florence Welch, Patti Smith, The streets, James Blake… Just to name a few. This seemed to be a good idea as it bought music, volume and sound into a room where two people were sitting quietly wondering how to begin.
After some time we started to improvise, I sang my poem and Sean spoke his, whilst playing the keyboard, we seemed to find an alluring and simple melody, one that we felt naturally suited the contexts of the work as the voice and instrument and space in between created an alluring sense of connectivity that seemed to match. From here we practiced and discussed and found our flow, listening, giving and sharing.
Come Friday, In thinking about how best to share what we had been working on during the week… my mind wondered. I contemplated connectivity of space and sound vs placement of self in relation to installation and audience within the space. I thought about this with regards to the concept of distance, relation and connectivity - themes that run through our poems with regards to the concepts of birth.
By each taking a mic each attached to two separate amps sitting in the same room, we cabled our way out of a side door and set up the keyboard, mic and ourselves in a small toilet. This is where we performed whilst the sound fed through the mic into the amp in the room next door that held the installation and audience.
I created a rough installation to give a sense of what may be… that I will further develop with Lucas next week… Ideas already cooking for this!
By the end of this week I feel lucky to have shared the week with Sean and very inspired and excited to continue building upon Birth and the installation, knowing that I can realise an almost finished work in a weeks time - fingers crossed!
Video link of our Friday Sharing plus Q and A.
Password - grassmarket
Dance Base, Edinburgh Residency week 4. 12/11/18 - 16/11/18.
Concepts of normality; Birth
This week I welcomed collaborative artist Lucas Chih Peng Kao to the studio and project. I had met and spoken with Lucas months before and introduced him to the wider idea of my research proposal - luckily he wanted to come on board!
Lucas had the opportunity to see last weeks sharing, yet I took a little more time to explain what had been going on during the last three weeks and where I wanted to push the installation this week.
I had the weekend to reflect on past Friday’s installation and also develop my impulse in where to grow next, I felt excited and comfortable in taking a directorial approach to this current relationship - sorry Lucas but sometimes I just know what I want to do… he could see that and thankfully seemed into it, so he pleasantly made himself available for the work to appear through this dynamic.
We spent the second day creating the video to use as projection. I used movement previously created from week 1 and Lucas adapted to this along with his camera, following me intimately from one side of the room to the other. I tangle and follow the cord of wire between one amp and the next. It turned out for me to be a very tranquil and meditative afternoon as we repeated it for a few hours so we could find an honest relationship that was not too emotional / performative or invasive and one that I now feel comfortable with as it acts as a silent witness and evidence for that day and movement / relationship created.
Wednesday, I wrote a poem! Still in edit and lots to play with and tear apart but here it is… for now.
I love it’s flashing face, she says come with me, a smirk on her face, she dies away.
Counterpart to life; Death, cleansing sin.
A relationship doomed from the beginning
Considered only in the living, looking back; Understanding
moving forward; Life, a stream that runs deep
Sediments scatter limbs and bones, scraping to the surface stories once told
Minds of matter, filtered, cold rapid flow
Flowing over fear and anxiety that collides with the contemplating life of eyes wide shut
Rejecting your grasp, muscles tense and I laugh in the face of angst
Bolting upright, I cry, crying out - don’t take it for granted; Life
Fishing through murky actions, sinking, sinning and looking out
Touch me, see me, hear me later she cries; Existence denied
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached
Saviour is no man in control of biology of organ - chords playing a prelude of a society diseased
She murdered my leap of no faith, no more
looking backward and crawling, your final curtain falling, natures way or suicide? You decide
Learning now to take a bow, how, one day and yearning for the return, a finale to exhale and question, where are you?
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached. Breath.
So, when does it end? With air? Divinity? Lingering breath, left unsaid and stale?
Reaching out, far and wide, away from experienced existence of life, of salvation?
No, guilty transactions? A witness to I?
Will you remember? Do you? See me through, seeing it through these eyes of mine?
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached.Words once spoke now only whisper in the wind
Changing form and changed forever more
Where are you? He cries and dries eyes
Plucking out love and shame to wash away the guilty sins that glorify these projected and protected immortal beings
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached
Of relation of him, her you and I
Of body, cold lips and beating heart no more
Just sounds of the funeral march, the inevitable ending that strikes out the band
Brassily playing out existential ideas to play over and over and over it’s over again
What a life
What a fucking laugh
What a sad song, they cry
What does it mean to die?
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached
Collecting, building, decomposed memories of objects of exposure of expression left unsaid
replicating reasons to remember; Things
To hold, to know and show and tell them that - you were once here in matter that mattered; No more
A shoe, a photo, a smile that looks like / looked like you
Being here yet not able
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached
So, here I am
Nails biting dust to dust, you remain and return to the universe; Eternal
Bonds changed and broken, religion killing ritual, concealed in time
A present reality an inevitable stability, to cling to climb
We do not know death but what we miss in form and relation
Where are you? No reply
For the one that once spoke can no longer be reached.
I will begin building on it again this March 2019. Understand - this is very rough and will be worked on more.
Thursday and Friday I started to assemble a sketch of an idea of a work.
I decided to make a mock up as I wanted to present something for my Friday sharing, so I took this opportunity to offer up something very fresh and unready, yet in doing so I have since been able to reflect on the experience and the response in Q and A and understand that it was important to do this - even though in my heart and mind I know that the final product would not be so similar to this original low quality version of things.
Some disciplines I explored -
I chose to play with the sound of brass band as being from a small village in Yorkshire, this is what I grew up with… and how I remember those I never met, as both my granddad’s conducted their local bands, yet they both died when I was 1 or 2 and so, I relied on my impulse to revoke their spirit through this sound, plus I am interested in brass sound vibration and the need to use whole body and breath in order to stimulate sound from such instruments. It did not seem to match and gave the movement and poem a feeling of over ripe sentimentality, that I did not feel comfortable with… yet the brass may come back in March!
For the time being I found some simple recordings of prayer bowls on repeat and used this as sound vibration - In March ( grant permitted), I will work with incredible musician and artist Peter Kelly, we will explore vibration, repetition and ritual in music, sound and movement combined, creating the choreography and performance that will be.
As the poem was too fresh to remember, I pre-recorded it and had it play over the speaker… yet if you read above you know this is all just a basic testing of initial ideas and clearly would be researched and developed far more. I will play around with building up and breaking down of the text, to be used throughout the work, building chapters, dance, sound and holding space and setting time. I will play in depth with initial ideas explored with Sean (during birth project) i.e. - placement and composition of words on page and in the space and how this may bring ideas of movement and sound in a fragmented and contemporary way.
I have many movement based tasks and ideas I have been working with regards to Concepts. For these two days I started down a newer path - looking into repetition, vibration and deterioration. A simple idea, drop of water from the tip of the head, trickling down into the body, filling organs, blood flow, surrounding bones… this was my starting point. I used simple repetition and a movement / action that is two fold in function, yet as it continues through time it becomes fragmented, broken, hard to attain and so changed. I let my thoughts guide myself to Dominique and listened too the vibrations. During this process I found an entry way into the truth of my feelings and so at times I laugh, cry, stick two fingers in the air… I am all over the place, abandoned and yet contained. This is an initial point and will be part of what I will play with further in March, yet I will bring into the work my other movement ideas I am working on within regards to Concepts; Death, once I start to build a longer more developed work.
Initial idea. Placing objects (these days, my clothes) in room. Evidence. Representation of I, and so left behind / unclothed by end of work. I want to bring some big cardboard boxes into the space that will be filled with objects relating to research, use this as my go to for dressing up, show and tell box and see where this takes me once further developing work.
I Tried a version of an older song I wrote. I want to write a song for Dominique as an epilogue to Death. I cannot write this yet… still processing her death and how I would like to sing to her once the show is made. A song for you? About her? About us? About her death? Life? Hmmmmm. I need more time.
I hate how I sing the song on the video. I want to sing a softer song, let the pain seep out and to hold the audience in a more tender, more honest way.
There is so much more I could write and explain but I will save all that for the privacy of my notebooks and the studio… for now.
Here is the video from the sharing -
RESIDENCY AT DANCE BASE, EDINBURGH. MARCH 2019.
Concept’s of normality; Death
This quote was my starting point. For me it contemplates life and death = existence.
You are more than matter
Your vibrations have reached so many
Cry when you need to, you’re still in a human body.
Through letting time pass since December and reflecting on this concept of death and creating a performance work I realised that the work is about life as much as it is death. Contemplating.
Some thoughts that came to the front of my mind by March time -
A space / place / experience / ongoing moment, held in my hands softly
Time, linear? Or, a new shape?
The in-between moments in life
The final exhale
Exploring relationship to life by considering death.
You and I = Understanding of self.
Life and death = Understanding of time.
Self + Time = ongoing experience…
I was never very good at Math!
So here at Dance base, writing poetry, reading through old journals, making installations and text / scripts of paper of poetry, moving, singing… basically I was playing with different forms whilst each time trying to develop the material and relationship between such forms.
I looked at my daily practice, what do I do all day when in a studio. I realise working alone I create sound, visual art and words to keep me company whilst moving alone from 9am - 5pm.
I started to see my daily set up and practice as a ritual within itself. It began from the moment I entered the studio, remembering how I roll out the paper, where I place my note books, how I warm up my body to move, listen to how I sing and talk on that particular day and started my ritual from here. I used my loop machine to throw back into the room information gathered as the day moved forward, so by 4pm I could link what happened at 10am to what was happening now, cause and effect, a relationship. I became just another form in motion amongst forms.
This helped me play and work and build momentum and a reason to be there, alone. I realised sooner than later I was actually sooner ready to collaborate with Pete then I had initially considered when writing my application months before and as much as I invested in and discovered the work during this time I did think to myself, I wish Pete was here already!
I started to see my words take form in sound and movement and suddenly things were coming to life. I tried to evident these in different ways, building installations, creating videos, developing movement that moved in space with intention and poetry.
I started to bring in objects replicating reasons to remember my friend Dominique - Dominique died in November and was a big catalyst for me trying to get my head around all of this. A red box filled with golden tinsel and photographs - a gift she had given to me only four years earlier when I was actually struggling with sickness in my life, oh how time can be so cruel.
In researching death, ritual and performance and playing with different ideas and concepts on how to deliver my thoughts it hit me - DANCE MACABRE. That was it. This is it. A momento mori. This is the work I want to develop now, it all makes sense. I want to consider life through considering death. I want my audience to consider this with me, I still have a lot of work to do - I realise this now but still it felt good to reach this moment of understanding and clarity in this huge topic that is life and death.
The Danse Macabre, also called the Dance of Death, is an artistic genre of allegory, of the late middle ages on the universality of death: no matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.
The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or a personification of death, summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave. It was produced as moment mori, to remind people of the fragility of their lives and how vain were the glories of earthly life. Its origins are postulated from illustrated sermon texts;
I wrote a short song, a theme tune for the work -
Rolling going nowhere, nowhere
Flowing to escape this feeling
Rolling flowing slowly knowing
Someday, our time will come.
I decided upon magic circles - A space marked out by a practitioner of many branches of ritual magic, which they generally believe will contain energy and form a sacred space, or will provide them a form of magical protection, or both.
This is where I will hold my ritual, where I will connect my vibrations and summon thought and feeling of the dead into the living. Hello again my beautiful friend Dominique aka Golden child.
During this residency I gave a couple of open classes. One of the classes we played with the loop machine, imposing questions into the studio for us all to contemplate such as, how does your skeleton move? What do you think about when you brush your teeth? What did you forget last week? Each question inspiring a thought, an answer a response , a reason to think and move collectively.
I also held a sharing of my work in progress - it felt like a disaster! I had been in the studio alone for days on end and now suddenly there was a bunch of people looking in on something still too private and unfinished… although, it was useful to share in some ways. I realised - how I hold an audience can be quite uncomfortable at times as I do not cater to an idea of a show, some people seemed to not like this (as they let me know during there response to the sharing), I on the other hand like this very much and want to push it even further.
Next stop, The Work Room, Glasgow.
work room r and d
perf - https://youtu.be/AvSMMTfyOL0
q and a - https://youtu.be/SdRrIF64joU
If you are reading / watching this blog and video documentation of the very much work in progress then please know, I will blog about TWR experience soon, I am tired tonight.
I have lots of idea’s + critical response and frustrations with the video I see, particularly my movement as it was very watered down and well just quite shit this day! I know I will do better and I now know how and why I will do so. I look forward to writing this up soon and hopefully just physicalising it in practice too!