Written in Grain
This work was a participatory performance which took place over night in Cumbria. There was an implicit invitation to take part. People came and went, most staying for a couple of hours, some stayed all night whilst I worked at my writing with the wheat. The sound amplified by a microphone on my hand and two crown mics on the floor at either end of the space. The sound fed back and reverberated around the barn space producing its own rhythm and tone.
25SG Residency work – Haven
This work was a participatory sound installation. Participants read a text by themselves in a quiet room to unknown listeners in another room who listened on headphones whilst the sound of the voice was being recorded and played via a max patch which constantly played and recorded into a 30second buffer. The resulting sound distorted and produced feedback effects which layered the voices in an ever silting sediment of stories.
RESPONSE Festival Landguard Fort Suffolk 22nd October 2010
This durational three hour performance was very satisfying to make. I imagined I might work for a couple of hours and was shocked to find that I had been involved in what I was doing for the entire evening. I was in a meditative state that became a route to expression which came much more easily than it did for RENDER in Newcastle where I was surrounded by people and noise. The words that I wrote with the rice were improvised and came naturally out of being in that very particular place. The site specificity of it was interesting since when I got to the fort I wished I hadn’t had to plan anything because there was so much to respond to within the building – every room and corridor set off possibilities for making work – the tile for the festival – RESPONSE – was very apt.
The sound aspect of this work was really interesting. I had a very simple set up with one lapel mic strapped to my hand and one amped speaker. The sound was loud though and because the space was very quiet even when full of people I was able to play and listen to what sounds I was making which I really enjoyed and would like to make more of. A lot of people were fascinated by the sound and commented particularly on the sound and its realtion to what I was doing. The harshness of the sound sometimes and the quietness of the activity. The range of sounds I could get by working with the rice was very intersting. I iked the way the sound shone an aural spotlight on what I was doing. Eventually my repetitive movements with the rice were accentuated by the repetitive sound they made through the microphone.
I was tempted to continue working in the same way the following day, but I was asked by several people if they could write something with the rice and it seemed a good opportunity to let go and see what would happen. Visitors entered into the spirit of the piece and quietly and carefully wrote their words, even those who hadn’t seen the performance the night before. The day finished with the space filled with words, some written by me during the performance and others by visiting members of the public. Some people told me that they felt making words themselves helped them understand the work better and get into it.
Render 10 Rice Writing
Performance with amplified sound.
The Slow Revolution
This piece of work was a durational performance in the cinema at Star and Shadow.
An area approximately 10m square was filled with metre wide 2.5m long strips of newsprint hanging vertically from string hooked between two opposite walls in a diagonal pattern.
The installation was lit with the cinema projector which produced strong shadows of the paper on itself and the walls, and my form on the paper. The white projector screen visible behind the hanging paper, formed the backdrop to the piece. The space was otherwsie blank and blacked out.
The piece began with me standing in the spaces between the paper and the audience sat in the cinema chairs beyond the paper filled area. I then picked up a scalpel blade and began to cut the paper into strips from top to bottom chosing pieces to cut randomly but gradually cutting all the sheets into three strips moving across the whole space continually.
Each cut of the blade cut a piece of paper from top to bottom in one movement. I replaced each blade with a fresh one as it began to get blunt.
Once all the paper had been cut into strips I began to cut the strips down, working across the whole space as before. No contact was made with the audience at any point. I continued in this way until all the paper had been cut down and lay on the floor with the scraps still attatched to the string by the clips.
I then stood still in the middle of the space looking into the light of the projector until the audience had all gone.
This was a very meditative piece for me to perform. I enjoyed being in the space and concentrating on the simple action of cutting the paper. The execution of a simple act allowed my mind to focus. I began by moving quite quickly between the paper enjoying the feeling of cutting the paper swiftly. I then became absorbed in the sound of the blade slicing through the newsprint and the shapes the cut made in the hanging sheets. The strips falling were also fascinating – the way that each one fell, the look of it on the floor, the sound and then the silence as I watched it. As more paper was stripped away, the shadows became more evident and I became more visible. The speed at which I worked depended on the nature of my involvement in the action.
I found that at one point I felt extremely sad. The action of taking away, stripping away, removing, reducing had an affect on me symbolically. This moved into a feeling of liberation as more paper fell to the floor. It is interesting how a seemingly abstract action can have a psychological affect – by it’s mere repetition under very specific circumstances? Benjamin – site specific works as acts of magic.
The materials I used were very simple but very specific. The ease with which I could cut through the paper with the scalpel, the neutral not white colour of the paper and the string, my neutral simple clothing. These materials are important to me – their feel, appearance and appropriateness is paramount and the way they fit together. -(material thinking?)
Thoughts about how sound links to action – how to make the incidental sound more prominent possibly interesting.
Issues about connection with an audience arose out of this work too. There was never any intention to connect directly with the audience but given that my research is questioning this issue in my work it is pertinent to consider it. The lack of physical interaction with the audience was important in this work, they were being asked to simply witness an act and were given time and space for their own thoughts. I have to question why I want to make connections with people in my work – do I really, or do I just want to show people something and let them come to their own conclusions? Is the connection in the content and form of the work rather than in any overt attempt to include the audience/viewers? Does it matter which?
Stratford Grove Piece – Stick, String, Nail
- 25 Stratford Grove Performance
A durational performance with projected video and seven year old Eve.
A dream like video loop plays against an interior white wall. The images show a pair of hands winding sisal string around a stick with a nail in the end of it. The video pauses when the string is pushed onto the nail and then begins the sequence again.
I sit in front of the projection and one by one dismantle a large pile of identical stick,string,nail assemblages. I silently hand first the stick and then the string which I have wound around my hand, to Eve who places them carefully in a repetitive pattern covering the floor.
The performance is viewed from both inside and outside the space through the windows.
We continue silently until all the assemblages are dismantled and exit hand in hand leaving the sticks, string, and nails in place.
This was a piece was an experimental work that came from a recurring dream. Originally conceived to be performed alone, the more I thought about it the more sense it made for Eve my daughter to do it with me. I had the dream as a teenager and young adult and it represented my frustration with not being able to find answers to the questions in my life. Since having children I realise that there are no definitive answers only the choices I make, and Eve has been instrumental in unravelling that for me. Thus her collaboration made sense to me.
I didn’t feel as prepared for this work as I would normally would. I had planned to wear a particular thing but since I asked Eve at the last minute to take part it was better that we wore similar clothes. The space was very intimate, people were sat very close to us, it didn’t feel like a performance, the audience watched carefully and were completely silent themselves as Eve and I worked together on our simple task.
I set up the installation with myself sat in front of the projection wearing simple clothing that fitted with the installation in terms of its colour and shape. I think the work with Eve and I would have been better in a domestic setting. It felt unfinished and unconsidered as it was, our images incongruous with the installation. The last minute decision to ask Eve to do the piece with me fitted conceptually but not visually with what had been already planned.
I liked the look of the materials on the grey concrete floor and the meticulous way Eve independently chose to arrange them. The piece continued without us as the video played and the materials remained.
People described it as poetic.
I would like to work with Eve again. She added something that the work would have lacked without her, an authenticity. I am interested in this on one hand, very real domestic and personal situation and the setting up of a performance ethos/situation as the context for it. We weren’t doing something that we would normally do and yet the task made sense, and Eve was completely relaxed about being in that situation with me for the first time. It has made me think about the ‘performative’ in everyday life and in the creation of work.