Archive for April, 2011

Moneta & Aoide April 25th, 2011

Dies Luna

Luna wn 43%v

If money is becoming more and more digital all the time, that brings it closer to other symbolic expression that also can exist as electric or wave-form phenomenon. Money and music, digital imagery might just be cousins now. It’s exciting to think that someday one might be the equivalent of, or perform the functions of, the other. The actual form of the money could become intensely personalized (in contrast to a homogenous, standardized physical currency) and expressive.

What would the authenticating/validating feature of the money be then?

What would the performative aspects of money use/the dramatics of exchange be like?

How would that affect the form of the material basis?

Kind of exciting.

sidestepping the name, active and passive April 17th, 2011

Dies Solis


“Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees.”

-Robert Irwin, American installation artist, 1928-


“Magic, the reduction of properties to simplicity, making them transmutable to utilize them afresh by direction, without capitalization, bearing fruit many times.”

-Austin Osman Spare, English artist and magician 1886-1956


two of spades lock in progress April 12th, 2011

Dies Mars

Luna wx 64%v

real & imaginary April 6th, 2011

Dies Mercurius

Luna wx 9%v

While coordinating the stage manager’s scene breakdown and notes with the costume designer’s costume plot in order to generate a working draft of the costume change tracks for the current show, I am struck by how many separate worlds-in-formation are headed on a direct collision course with each other this week, during tech.

Each department has created a fleshed out whole based on the (same, we hope) script and on various communications between them. But like the telephone game, there always end up being parts that were envisioned quite differently from one end of the common communication line to the other, the drafts being made/rehearsed.

We all, based on our varying degrees of intimacy with the script and the work being done with it to make it an actuality in the “real world” (practice, rehearsal & notes, drafting, plotting, etc.), are busy making mental models of what we imagine will happen when it makes it to the stage. We share a common story and as there is not time for every person in every department to check in with everyone else about every detail of what they are making (my gods, can you imagine? the endless meetings and discussions? scary) we do our thing simply trusting that what we do will fit with what everyone else is doing to make a viable piece of performed art.

We selectively communicate what we have prioritized as the most important things for the other department(s) to know about what we are doing and run with the rest. We trust that the others know their business and are good at executing it in the right way, at the right time, and in the right place. We trust them to make good decisions about their parts and communicate in the overlaps as well. That’s a hell of a lot of discrimination and trust.

The edges of the individual visions of the show that don’t match up perfectly are modified, reshaped, ground down, moved, tweaked, or otherwise coaxed into fitting and supporting the whole of the show when the time comes for all of us to bring our worlds to the same place and play them out at the same time. This is technical rehearsal, whose captains are the director and the various designers.  All these emerging, colliding worlds (along with the long days/nights in the artificial environment of the theater space) cause a distinct warping of the perception of the passage of time and the reality we left outside.  It is magical space. In terms of production-time, it is the secret behind the curtains as much as the literal “behind the scenes” actions are during the course of a show being performed. Rough, bumpy, intensive, frustrating, miracle-producing space.

It is willed mutual annihilation of the particular and multiple individual visions in order to bring about a unified living narrative that will in turn spawn another multitude of uniquely nuanced visions and narratives in the minds and bodies of the audience. With some luck, a few of those audience members will be inspired by the experience to make more art, or perform some other right-action in the world outside the theater-cave. Script to design to tech to performance to audience. One to many back to one back to the many who are composed of ones after all. The creative force undulates through it all.


Taking it back to the formative stage, from the maker’s perspective:

When one is practicing, a curious disregard of the actual in favor if the imagined ideal/desired end comes into effect. We reach for what we think is possible, and keep repeating our actions in the material until all deviations from the shape of the (imagined) goal in the piece are eliminated. What actually exists at any point in the process is secondary to the conception until the material piece embodies the conception as perfectly as we are able to make it do. Note: this has nothing to do with meaning, and all to do with form and being. Meaning is solely the business of the individual experiencing the art, and outside of what I’m talking about here.

It is not as mechanical and straightforward as it sounds, since in this place there is always more than one player in the game of creation. The environment and material has (and if a collaborative form, the other creators have) a say in what it will and will not be. Paying attention to the formation of the piece during the making will nearly always mutate the inspiration in beneficial ways. It ferments, and no one can say where the improving element comes from until it arrives. Stubbornly holding fast to the original mental picture while ignoring the process, “forcing” the piece is a recipe for a poor fit of inspiration and materiality, dullness, or disaster which amount to about the same thing. It’s laziness that totally wears you out.

In performance (in viewing, in interacting), the materiality of the thing regains dominance. It impacts, it inspires through the senses- visual, tactile, audial, etc.  through the skin, the eye, the gut, through our physical equipment. There is no other way! At least the kind of art I prefer does. If you need to read an essay to “get it”, then it’s not doing its job. Or you aren’t. If it’s finished. If it’s truly an embodiment of something vital, if it has a “self” of its own. And as I said earlier, with some luck it will entice a few viewers to make aesthetic whoopie with it and go on to engender more art.  Material back to imaginative again, and so on.

2 Carter quotes- audience and distance, pleasure/fun, misc. April 5th, 2011

Dies Mars

Luna wx  4%v

“But on the whole, grief has been privatised and no longer needs special clothes to advertise its presence so that the entire world may see and participate in it. A funeral is no longer an invitation to share a common distress at the ubiquitousness of mortality.  Lou Taylor cites an ‘old-fashioned’ funeral in Sussex, 1971, when twenty black limousines followed a horse-drawn hearse; the deceased was a scrap merchant and the black-clad festival of his interment not so much of another time as from another culture, one in which life is theatre and needs an audience, not one in which life, like television, is best enjoyed in the privacy of one’s own home amid a small circle of close kin.

– Angela Carter, from the review “Lou Taylor: Mourning Dress”, New Society, 1983

What might be substituted for the word “grief”? This seems to apply to a great many more human social activities than perhaps it did in 1983.


“The bourgeoisie always prefer to experience popular art second-hand, in museums, art-galleries and the pages of coffee table books; that way, you run no risk of actually having any fun, or being forced to submit to the indignity of the Demon Whirl or the Lightning Jets. Since the fun of the fair is entirely sensational – that is, a direct, visceral assault on the senses –  and may be experienced cheaply and without guilt; it has no connotations, not of the erotic, which is all in the mind, but straightforwardly sexual, which is all in the flesh and blood.”

“A fairground is a fun cathedral for the poor. It is visually a hard-edged world, in which most of the decorative detail is two-dimensional, executed in that kind of trompe de l’oeil which deceives nobody and is intended to deceive nobody…Compare the work of the fairground artist, Fred Fowle…with the effects inside a 1930’s super-cinema, the Tooting Bec Granada, say. Fowle’s work is upfront, straightforward, it hits you in the eye; it was he who introduced primary colors into the fairground in the 1930’s. It is decoration which is part of machines  whose function is not to procure dreams but to excite the senses. Not the delineation of an invented reality but an exaggeration of concrete images to do with real sensation. On the other hand, Tooting Bec Granada, with its cyclorama of moving cloud and gallery of mirrors, is an interior constructed wholly of fantasy, of illusion. That is why the marble there is real.”

-Angela Carter, from the article “Fun Fairs”, New Society, 1977

She touches on this theme in her 1974 review of Linda Lovelace’s bio as well. The apparent safety of engagement at a distance, porno films versus in-person sexual experience. The apparent safety of discontinuity? (Ren?) It breeds ghosts. Whatever would she think of fb, of texting?

The word itself, whether spoken or written, is of course the original buffering and interpretive agent for direct experience. The art of it goes way back. Some would say that that particular thing is a prime identifier of what makes us human. Whether it is an active word or a passive word depends on the user. Does it invite-in, as in fantasy stimulating the imagination , or does it confront and impact as in riding the carousel or being slammed about in the bumper cars? Is it primarily visceral or intellectual? What places on the ratio-spectrum between the two does effectiveness thrill begin to wane/pick up?

*In my usage here: word=symbolic thought + markings or sounds that serve to represent other things, actions, or concepts. That are meaning-holders.

Re: inviting-in / confrontation: Objects themselves can be dominant or submissive in regard to their relationship with the wearer/bearer/observer. Jewelry is an easy example of this- beautiful stones set in classic settings are meant to enhance the beauty of the wearer, to draw attention to parts of their body. It is submissive to the wearer. Art jewelry that tends toward the sculptural or an extraordinarily big/flashy/rare brace of jewels demands its own stage (the body of the wearer) and monopolizes visual attention. It has a dominant, assertive aspect.

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