A huge amount of hesitation is going on at this point for me.  I’m needing to understand the context of live-art, the area I’ve stepped into.  I find I am doing live-art performances, yet have started before taking stock of the context.

My first live-art piece was the first appearance of the Lost Library at the Abergavenny Eisteddfod in 2016.  In the autumn of 2015 when I dreamt up the idea of making a part of  Abergavenny Library mobile and take from the building and onto the festival site. (Except this is not the whole truth.  Really I wanted dancers to respond to text/bring text to life, maybe even within the library, but I couldn’t find available dancers.)

My reasoning was to do with wanting text to become physical  to move.  (and not brave enough to do it myself).  Also, being told many times by people that I am not a performer.  Which has truth in it, but, but, but  But also motivated by the knowledge of losing so many libraries.  Along the way many elements came into the end result.  Being in the middle of it its harder to understand what others might have seen in their encounter with the lost library.  The ingredients of the performance where:

Time

7 days on the festival site

What

An old wheelbarrow filled with plants
A big roll of text from the book Border Country by Raymond Williams
Music coming from the wheelbarrow
A speech in Welsh and English translation attempting to explain the whole piece.

Who

Myself
a volunteer Welsh speaker to read the Welsh speech
a librarian.

Also

Musician composed three pieces using the book as theme source material
Art student adapted a 1950s wheelbarrow to take the roll of paper
Local gardening group grew from seed plants mentioned in the book.

 

Clearly  looking back, I had far too much going on!~

This was useful, yet incredibly stupid.  Less is more and how did I end up with all those elements mixed in?  Well, for starters, I had a long time to prepare, this I realise is terrible with something so site specific.   What would have been more useful would be to (get commissioned) and have a simple kit ready, a simple plan and then adapt as I go and allocate myself tonnes of time during something like 7 days in a row (almost, it was Fri, Sat, Tues, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat) and by the Weds I was warming up and stayed up till the early hours painting a translation of the speech onto a roll of paper, as the Welsh was getting glazed looks.  The communication is important to me.  And the working from the seat of my pants works in this kind of environment.

Festivals are for flexing,  experimenting with an element of practice.   I did this yet in several different languages and the message was messy.


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Honesty

Early one February morning at Abergavenny Morning! Networking meeting, attendees have 45 seconds each to introduce themselves and their businesses to the 40+ people in the room.

When my turn came around I introduced myself and photographer Jane who I’d invited along and removed my scarf revealing a large cardboard badge with “The only language that matters?” painted on it.   Approaching the nearest table, I began handing out large round seeds from a black drawstring bag.

Jane began photographing the exchange as I made my way slowly around the room and with only a few seconds left I asked the room if they knew what type of seed it was and then revealed its name.

I was later asked Do you think honesty is the only language that matters?  To which I replied Yes.

Taking art into a business networking context.  I’m considering alternative ways of showing art, my art in particular as this is a context I’m experimenting with.  With my work being about people, communication and words the networking context is an intriguing situation in which to place it.


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My way of reading is to have several on the go at any one time.  One recent read I’ve had for a while and read a few years back, though I read it the wrong way for me – front to back straight through.  Sometimes this way of reading satisfies, but more often than not the authors style gets repetitive.

My most recent read has made me feel more comfortable than ever in my reading style, which is naturally messy in reading a chapter that catches my eye for as long as its engaging.

This is a little in the way in Drawn Together  http://drawntogether.wales/index.php/about-the-project/– people are asked to draw something that catches their eye.  I read this way…How would you describe how you read?

The book I’ve just read (and keep dipping back into) is A Perfect Mess – The Hidden Benefits of Disorder by Eric Abrahamson & David H. Freedman.  It’s a great antidote to the very popular minimalist movement that sometimes gets less than pristinely ordered people feeling lacking some magical quality.

It nicely explained why towering piles of paper work better for me than folders, that stuck with me!

Which (unintentionally) brings me back to INSCRIBE – I’ve written  a proposal for it and would like  it to tour and shed sheets and accrue new transcriptions from a range of artist critiques – meetings – symposia perhaps.  I am on the look out for paper and photocopying sponsors to make this 1m high pile of paper entirely of paper next time, rather than plinth and paper.

 


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INSCRIBE

Inscribe is a textual self-portrait of our emerging new art-world, through recording and transcribing conversations between artists.

These sessions are then re-played, typed using a manual typewriter onto cream paper and photocopied.  The piece exhibited shows human error in the process of transcription through mishearing’s, misunderstanding and typos and is a contemplation on the value of communication, the potential for growth through dialogue and the obstacles to comprehension in the misunderstandings arising from the production process and ultimately transposing a conversation from one location to another.

(Here’s Inscribe at T R A N S P A R E N C Y exhibition in December – New images coming soon!)

Inscribe is a living work of art gathering artists words, it is also messy in the interpretation of recordings.  The pages are offered to audiences via a prominent sign with the hope that the pile will wax and wane with each new showing.

Inscribe is a live document.

 

Ingredients:

Artists critiques and conversations.
Recording device.
Typewriter.
Cream paper.
Emboss / Watermark
Method:

Recording critique sessions attended.
Transcription of sessions using typewriter and cream paper, listening only once to each several second section.
Photocopying original transcriptions.
Watermark / embossing of each sheet.
Assembling sheets into 1m tall stack.
Please take one’ sign on floor.

 


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The elements that I’m focussing on – words, seeds and something that has been lost.
Seeds – plants as part of the language of an area.  Language as a reflection of the landscape.  Plants individually remain the same across generations, but words mutate readily and rapidly.

The physical and haptic experience of visiting a library is different now to when I was a child.  There was the smell of the pages of books, cardboard envelopes in which the book card was placed whilst on loan, the wooden boxes these were kept in.   There was also the feeling of walking into a world of the written word, with a few audio books on tape.

Looking back at why I choose to name the project the Lost Library?  Libraries had been declining and I had been projecting into the future – thinking: what will become of libraries?  But maybe what is more useful to consider is what have we already lost?  What sticks most firmly in my mind is the physical experience of being a room full of books.  The gestures I use when being in this space and an interaction with the text there both being core elements to my exploration.

These elements being central, I intend to physically be and respond to the next library I’m performing in alternating at set intervals between responding through gesture and reading / consuming the text in some way.  For instance – the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers is linked to patterns in plants growth and I have previously taken words from pages (in a dictionary) relating to that sequence, so now I’ll pick up books in that manner. Choosing books using the sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 etc.  The sequence could be used to choose which books on each shelf, which page and which word.    These words could be recorded and passed on to the next library I visit through documentation.

The other idea relating to my methods is to audio record the sounds within the library during my performance (I would be mute) and then transcribe this to pass on to the next library I visit.

These modes could work together, one is relating to my actions for the duration of the performance, the other to preservation of a certain time and place and a creation of a chain of withdrawal and deposit in libraries.

So preparing documentation from my previous three appearances to pass on to the next library I visit is my next step.

 


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In considering documenting my Lost Library project to now, I’ve come across an opportunity: Goldsmiths Library Residency later in the year.

I know for a fact my approach to the residency isn’t strictly what they are looking for.  My approach and M.O. rarely fits anything.  I feel unprofessional in the way I develop my work, but I know that it is the most fruitful, revealing and exciting way I can work.

My recent declaration:  This season I will be mostly wearing my actions  is proving to be quite a long season.

So in the last iteration of The Lost Library I wore a stripy top, set up in three buildings which were historical or current libraries, was mute for the duration of 6 hours, signed people up to The Lost Library, issued membership cards and gave one word to each new member.

The thing that began my project The Lost Library was my desire to bring the words within the library to life through movement.  This I couldn’t do due to believing I needed professional performers and therefore funding to do this.  Which I didn’t get ( I applied to two sources and got turned down.)  I have a big difficulty in filling out forms in that I have no idea how to answer questions, what is expected, the wording is nearly always misleading to me.  As well as the way I lose the meaning to a whole sentence due to the misuse of a word.

Before I go too far on that line of blog, let me review that area of my divergence!  This slight obsession on words and meaning and being concise is clearly something I cannot leave alone.  Something I would have liked to spend more time on is the editing of my list of 1000 words that were used for the last two performances of The Lost Library – at Fringe Arts Bath and Deptford X Fringe.  Though – in fact, by reviewing the words before each use I get to refresh them just in time, so they are perpetually my chosen 1000.

Ok, so this belief that I need professional performers has subsided since I’ve been working on various projects – the car boot, the clydach gorge collaboration presentation event and considering embodying one of my paintings from the Clydach Gorge Collaboration Lifeforce Clydach  in which white stick figures dance, do yoga and relax near the edge of a landscape ridge – on the horizon. (These ridges surface again and again in my paintings)

I found not speaking during my last Lost Library appearance at Deptford X Fringe interesting, especially with giving out just one word.  The signing people up in a register for the library was an interruption in the performance, plus it meant cardboard signs were needed to explain, which I’d prefer not to do.  If I could rely totally on my gestures and having one word to give out as the focus, this is more interesting.  What I like about how this is developing is the way I’m editing the content.  I’m reducing the elements down.

Have I gone far enough?

Lost Library now=one word+ gestures

 


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