A busy day: the tyre got a hot pink refit, but otherwise almost all the time was spent in the upper space, which, having been cleared for a yoga class earlier in the day, suddenly had a lot more space in it to play with. Nina led us towards rocks & threads, & building this into the space gave Studio 10 the volume we've been after. Rachel created another eroded notation drawn score, & this was performed by Nina as part of the 3pm event, which also included movement, with Rachel threaded in to place in a way that limited her ability to play violin, Nina gradually entangling herself in twine to 'complicate her situation', & Gavin using the flute to weave thread & sound through the space, reminiscent of net-setting or shuttle-weaving. Clare explored movement & close sounds in audience's ears, & we have another poem by Evelyn Holloway, as well as a responsive drawing by Susan Schneider (see photo below). One visitor called to mind the opening of Dante's Inferno, so these immortal words have now entered the installation:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
Evening: an exploration of something we've been circling for a while - splitting the performance between the spaces simultaneously (with Rachel performing in-between spaces), with Nina & Clare putting the threads through their paces again (more thoroughly this time) in Studio 10, & Gavin working with flute & electronics in the Cellar.
Audio: excerpt from 3pm Studio 10 here; excerpt from evening performance here, here & here. Plus some water bottle gamelan ambience here.
Tomorrow is our last creating day before the take-down on Friday; we have a workshop with Y5s from St Uny in the morning, followed by one or two University students shadowing us in the afternoon, & 2 final performances. With the end in sight, here's a bit of reflective writing on a couple of themes:
Some notes on mess
One thing that has struck me during our work in both spaces is that it can often be difficult to work out what is just 'mess' taking up space on the floor, & what is material designed to be part of the work. With both the cellar & studio now environments as opposed to exhibition spaces, all areas of the room are fair game (floors, walls, ceiling & the volume in between), & the processes we use generate plenty of unused offcuts, fragments, sand, bits & just mess, much of which ends up scattered around the rooms. Occasionally someone clears up this 'mess' - & then the interesting thing is that it feels (to me at least) like something is then missing; materials one has become habituated to are removing into absence, without the relief of the cleared space one might normally expect..
The reasons for this are not too hard to figure out: our approaches to the project allow anything to be part of the work, & often this anything tends to be the flotsam & fragmentary leftovers we stumble across as much as the designed object, so 'rubbish' is a familiar & necessary part of the work.
Even more topically, the 'mess' we leave is a primary trace of our own activities, tracery evidence of actions, engagement, encounters of that day or the day before, & as often as not directly haunts whatever it is the leavings of (a negative, positive, remainder, or similar of something admitted 'officially' into the installation).
So, the mess is important & a physical part of the working & the work, especially for our topic, & for an installation like ours that can never be finished, only taken down, & each sweeping up is a mini-premonition of the take-down that will have to happen in a couple of days. But each tidying reveals another layer of traces underneath that will take us into the remaining days.
One of the big themes of doing up time-trace-place is collaboration, & it's been interesting ot see how this process has changed over the time we've been here - not only a linear change, but also different fluxes, eddies & whorls of collaboration that spring up here & there.
With 4 or 5 people all working without a particular brief or territory & in disciplines that necessarily overlap with everyone else's (whether their official specialism or not), navigating the concept of collaboration is an interesting activity; I raised the possibility before the start of the installation that each person might have to be open to others working over, through, around & with their own material, & that there should be a willingness to disrupt, entwine, & be disrupted.
In the first few days, we were all very polite - would you mind if I added text to your image here? Would it be OK if I drew through your assemblage there? Clare, our visual artist, provided the spur beyond this by saying "you shouldn't have to ask". We should trust each other to respect the work done even in the process of seriously disrupting it, & trust our own decisions to work through/over/etc others' materials. The result of this, for me anyway, is that any one thing done that might have stood OK on its own & be 'owned' by its maker has in every case been improved, activated, brought more into the ethos of the work by the interventions of someone else. Sometimes these interventions are immediate, sometimes at the remove of several days. Sometimes the changes are extremely subtle (Clare scoring over photographs with a pin), sometimes drastic (occlusion, accretion, even destruction).
Another interesting effect has been the emergence & dissolving of pockets of collaboration; with 4 or 5 working together, as with Sarah's shoaling concept, smaller collaborative groups form & fade, either to make something together, explore something together, to create something for somebody to interpret or use, with these collaborative temporary 'clumpings' always then becoming available to the whole group. Finally, it's important to mention the unexpected collaborative engagement of our audiences, whether through discussion, or writing poems as reactive collaboration with our performances, or doing off-set drawings during them (invisible & unknowable until revealed & often shared between different audience members for any one drawing), which we then use as scores in future playings. It's been a varied & rewarding process.
presence / absence
If the above highlights the potential value of disruption, one of the most disruptive moments of the duration has been Gary & Sarah leaving for work in the middle weekend & Nina arriving to join in. Disruptive? yes - by the time Gary & Sarah left, a group relationship had developed that could have had many more weeks to run before any fatigue set in, & their departure was certainly a jump in the tracks, & Nina had to arrive into this settled practice (including operating hours almost the opposite of her own natural schedule) & make her own place, with all of us having to 'rewire' for different approaches & interactions. As with the disruptions mentioned about, this has been an entirely positive thing for the work (even as we miss Gary & Sarah & what we might have done with all 6 collaborators here) - already this week we've explored things that the old group might never have hit on, & given the installation a continuing life that will take it on until it has to be packed down on Friday.
Another feature of this is the traces Gary & Sarah have left, & the traces they've taken with them to the North. A sound file from Sarah here, & a photo:
The day's photos: