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grey line [twilight]

grey line [twilight]

Tomorrow we perform Grey Line – an interventional new public art work for radio, that Rosa Casado and I have been developing since spring, and that has turned out be simultaneously one of our smallest and largest scale works. The piece has been commissioned by Consonni, and takes as its context and broadcast platform an all-day radio symposium and public event within their LaPublika programme, into which we will intervene throughout tomorrow…

 

Grey Line [twilight]

 

Grey Line will attempt to track the twilight edge of the shifting shadow of night, as it slowly moves across the surface of the planet – following the progress of one day’s sunset, and its passage, over a scattering of disparate and diverse locations across the earth, towards and over the public event site of Tabakalera in Donostia, northern Spain. As this thin line of twilight slowly and relentlessly travels around the world – from the Pacific, across Asia and the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, to the Atlantic – we will open a series of short live audio connections to people stood out on the earth’s surface.

By giving us temporary access to the microphones of their mobile phones, these individuals will allow us to eavesdrop onto whatever may or may not be audible around them, as daytime passes into night where they stand – in Nagoya, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kathmandu, Kuwait, Hebron, Athens, Donostia and Bamako – as they step out into their own landscape to watch the shadow’s edge reach them.

These provisional live audio connections will attempt to open moments of access out onto the relentless journey of one day’s perpetual sunset, and onto one of the planet’s inevitable rotations… carrying familiar sounds of other public spaces… or only fragments of recognisable sound… or simply offering a reflective minute of somewhere else’s silence…

 

Image: Brookes 2016

 

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Carrying Rubén [exhibit]

Carrying Rubén [exhibit]

The traces of the carry and assemblege are now set-up and running within this open and developing public gallery space here at Azkuna Zentroa.

In other parts of the gallery are now also an accumulating mountain of the city’s rubbish – already about a tonne of it, diverted into the gallery from its usual route between collection to recycling (Belén Cueto and Rosa Casado) – and a 120m² living garden of invasive and locally illegal species of plant and animal (Kris Verdonck)…

The remains of the carry itself have now settled into a quarter of the space: the entire unedited footage from both journeys of Wednesday’s action here in Bilbao running on a pair of wall-mounted monitors, the equivalent footage from the original Cardiff carry in 2001 running on identical monitors on the opposite wall, and my table of timelines and documents – minus the machines and mixing eqipment I used, but otherwise as I finished with it on completion of my performance here – still standing in the middle of the floor between them…

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

Carrying Rubén

 

…From a city scale public intervention to gallery proposal in just one day… These traces will be available here, along with those accumulating from the other works within this gallery programme, until the doors are finally closed this Saturday night June 4th…

 

Images: Brookes 2016

 

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Carrying Rubén

Carrying Rubén

As I write these notes – in the gallery space of the Azkuna Zentroa here in Bilbao – Salut Bueno, Nazario Díaz, Amai Fernández, Axier, Joel and Rubén Mateos Lima are preparing to help each other across the city centre, on foot, and without the aid of Rubén’s wheelchair.

We have already made this journey once today: from 11:00 this morning Salut, Nazario, Amai and Axier carried Rubén from Plaza Nueva to this gallery space, in a series of short journeys of precisely nine minutes duration – attempting to reach agreed locations within these allowed times, and being filmed by Joel and I as they walked. At each location, they then paused for a few minutes rest, and posed for a group polaroid, before moving on… In front of me, on the 12m tabletop I have now laid out in the centre of this vast 45m room, and which is providing the focal hub of this work and its performance, I have a series of nine polaroid snapshots and eight numbered video SD cards – already the only physical documentary remnants of that journey.

 

Carrying Rubén [performance still]

 

Carrying Rubén [performance still]

 

This evening, the rest of the group will all attempt to retrace that same journey exactly – across a city that, within the space of a few hours, has changed it’s nature. Cycle couriers Osvaldo Navia Canelo and Ricardo Flores Rojas will bring the video footage back to me here, within ten minutes of it’s making, out there… And here in this room, with a time delay equal to the time it takes for the videos to be filmed and then carried here, I will assemble possible views onto both journeys from the material available to me… That time delay will mean that the group will arrive here, carrying Rubén down and into this gallery space, some 30mins before the completion of my reconstruction of their journey – allowing us all to meet and watch the composite footage of their arrival together…

I am very much looking forawrd to this. It has already been a great day – from stepping out into the crowded city streets this morning, to seeing Rubén being carried in through the gathered media of the formal press launch of this festival on our arrival here to complete the first journey… A lot has happend in the fifteen years since Carrying Lyn back in 2001. That act, as we shaped and performed it for the first time, undoubtedly revealed possibilites that have informed much of my subsequent work. And revisiting this work here and now, in the cold light of those subsequent experiences – and with the commitment and open daily pragmatism that Rubén and his friends have brough to this task, within the central streets of their city today – has not only clarified, but also expanded, its intentions and proposal…

 

Images: phone shots – Brookes 2016

 

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reconsidering ‘Carrying Lyn’

reconsidering ‘Carrying Lyn’

I am currently in Bilbao, preparing Carrying Rubén – a commissioned reconsideration and re-enactment of the multi-site Pearson/Brookes work Carrying Lyn, that Mike Pearson and I conceived and performed in Cardiff back in 2001, as our first multi-site city work…

Almost exactly fifteen years later, next Wednesday May 25th, I’ll perform Carrying Rubén – with Rubén Mateos Lima, a local performer with advanced multiple sclerosis, and a small but committed group of his friends – within the central streets and Azkuna Zentroa Gallery space of Bilbao, as the opening performance of the city’s new exploratory site-specific art programme Prototipoak.

Following the structure of the original work, the group will carry Rubén across the centre of the city, videoing themselves as they go. They will make this journey twice: firstly in the middle of the working day, and then again that same evening – attempting to retrace their earlier journey exactly, across a city shifting in character as it passes from day to night.

Throughout their evening journey, cycle couriers will rush the video footage being shot out on the street back to the gallery space, where I will attempt to assemble and reveal the event, in real time, with a twenty-minute time delay, from the fragments of material that becomes available – incorporating material retained from their first journey, polaroids, maps, and a series of short recorded reflections on the contemporary city.

 

Carrying Rubén [press image]

 

Carrying Rubén has been commissioned as part of the gallery thread of the Prototipoak biennial. The large subterranean gallery space has been curated by Rosa Casado to function as a porous informal hub space within Azkuna Zentroal, from where five works will attempt to open a series of specifically framed views out onto aspects of the landscape and use of the city around it.

The other four works within this gallery programme have been commissioned from artists Kris Verdonck (Belgium), Graeme Miller (UK), Belén Cueto (Spain) and naturalist and sound recordist Carlos de Hita (Spain)… The five of us have been working with Rosa over the past six months to shape specific new works from the projects she selected, all of which have had only one previous manifestation.

And this week we are working around each other. And will be accumulating fragments and traces of our actions within the public gallery space as we go…

 

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iliad [compressed]

iliad [compressed]

With the slightly refreshed perspective provided by a few months of hindsight, I have finally had a little time to start sorting through some of the documentation gathered during our epic ILIAD project – our durational verbatim performance of Christopher Logue’s poetic text War Music, and mine and Mike Pearson’s third large-scale collaboration with National Theatre Wales.

Specifically, over the past couple of weeks, I have been exploring the fixed camera ‘surveillance’ footage recorded during our first ever all-day marathon performance of the full four-part work. This footage recorded multiple single-shot wide-angle views onto the room of ILIAD, as it was performed on the day of Saturday 26th September 2015 – monitoring the hundreds of people, white plastic garden chairs, used car tyres, assorted pieces of timber and rope, and hours of performed and projected material, that shaped the room that day.

To begin to fix some manageably compressed visual trace of that place, cycling through the relentless views provided by those four cameras, I have compiled a complete x20 speed time-laspe record of the physical movements and spatial developments of the work across the full duration of that day-long event.

A playful and voiceless reminder of the physical journey, for all those who were there…

A very partial but hopefully engaging taster for those who were not…

 

 

ILIAD – Ffwrnes, Llanelli, 26th September 2015

 

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no matter how many people believe in it

no matter how many people believe in it

Here are a handful of photographs taken during our performance of What if everything we know is wrong? within a cleared out floor of Alhóndiga in Bilbao last weekend.

This latest manifestation of the work was commissioned by Azkuna Zentroa as part of their final 3, 2, 1 programme – and was again retitled specifically for the occasion, in this case as A fantasy is still a fantasy, no matter how many people believe in it. The title taken from a statement by the science fiction writer Algis Budrys – and published in Playboy Magazine in 1963 – within an article entitled 1984 and beyond, which transcribed a speculative conversation about the future between twelve notable science fiction writers of the period, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clark, Ray Bradbury…

In Bilbao we introduced a verbatim recorded reading of that transcript into the room of the work, once we had built it. As part of a reflection on our understandings and imaginings of the future. And more specifically, as a record of how others have previously envisioned our present in the past…

 

What if everything we know is wrong? [performance still]

 

What if everything we know is wrong? [performance still]

 

What if everything we know is wrong? [performance still]

 

What if everything we know is wrong? [performance still]

 

What if everything we know is wrong? [performance still]

 

What if everything we know is wrong? [performance still]

 

Photos: Eva Zubero, for Espacio Azkuna Zentroa

 

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small pieces of paper

small pieces of paper

Characteristically, while thinking about bigger and more complicated things, I’ve been drawing again – and accumulating a series of small pieces of paper, marked with drawings of small pieces of paper…

 

piece of paper #2

 

piece of paper #7

 

piece of paper #8

 

piece of paper #2, #7 and #8, pigment pen and watercolour on paper, 15cm x 10cm, Mike Brookes 2015 – from the ongoing pieces of paper series.

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a crowded room

a crowded room

I have just left Cardiff, after finalising the structure and animation of an immersive performance environment for the new production by my old friends Earthfall – which they will be touring across this, their twenty-fifth anniversary year.

I have wanted to see Earthfall perform close up in and amongst a crowd of promenade spectators for a very long time. And my work with them this time has shaped a functional and freestanding projection-washed room, where the performers and a crowd of fifty audience members can hopefully all meet…

 

...from a crowded room 01

 

...from a crowded room 02

 

...from a crowded room 19

 

Photos: Mike Brookes

 

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in the beginning…

in the beginning…

Today sees the public launch of ILIAD – our new large-scale collaboration with National Theatre Wales. The project is our third work for NTW, since the company’s inauguration. It continues our attempts to reactivate classic and historic narrative texts in contemporary Wales, as reflective or resonant situations in the present. And will hopefully push forward some of the propositions we initiated across both The Persian, which we located within the landscape of a Ministry of Defence training range in the Brecon Beacons for NTW’s inaugural season of 2010, and our most recent collaboration Coriolan/us, commissioned and realised in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company and London 2012.

Over the coming months Mike Pearson and I will be shaping our ILIAD. It’s a project that will be defined by our durational attempts to stage Christopher Logue’s epic poem War Music – a striking poetic reimagining, that he worked on for over forty years, of the main events in Homer’s account of the last years of the Trojan War.

Logue’s text unfolds across five separate books, which he published between 1981 and 2005. And we plan to perform it verbatim and in its entirety. Initially as a series of separate and consecutive episodes, then followed by two extraordinary omnibus performances of the entire work – the first all day, and the second overnight.

We have never worked directly with the text of a poem in this way before. And importantly, this poem has never before been staged in its entirety. But we will, inevitably, find out exactly what sort of event and work this massive task enables and adds up to.

To begin, here is a copy of the first short video ‘taster’ we made to send out earlier this morning. It combines footage shot on the coast next to Llanelli, where we will perform the work, with a couple of lines from Logue’s own preamble for his text, that we have drawn out as a working subtitle for the project as whole…

 

 

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holiday

holiday

La Laguna 18/07.2014

 

La Laguna 18/07.2014

 

nearly a third and almost a quarter [ La Laguna 18/07/2014 ], pair of digital photographs, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2014 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

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about 1000 people

about 1000 people

 

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untitled [ Spanish-Moroccan border, Melilla, 23:54, 16/12/2013 ], one minute of found infrared surveillance footing, modified and looped, dimensions and duration variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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hindsight

hindsight

what if everything we know is wrong?

 

The last still and silent trace of ‘what if everything we know is wrong? – as we performed it tonight, here in this cleared and appropriated Madrid studio – after we, our sounds, and the gathered crowd, have all left…

 

Image: Mike Brookes

 

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autumn in New York

autumn in New York

West Broadway 29/10/2013

 

untitled [ West Broadway 29/10/2013 ], digital photograph, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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…almost time to leave

…almost time to leave

merry go round

 

untitled [ Firglade Avenue 23/10/2013 ], digital photograph, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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walking

walking

As our final public work here in Providence, Rhode Island, today we walked the now ascent shoreline of the natural cove that shaped the original geography of this city – a body of water and salt marsh reclaimed and almost completely covered by developments of the city’s centre over the last 150 years.

 

Providence cove [event detail]

 

Accompanied and met by local residents, we followed the streets and paths that now sit above the water’s edge, meeting the scale and geography of the cove’s now absent water – as mapped on city surveys of the mid 1800s – through a simple navigation of the developments and daily uses of its area in the present…

 

Providence cove [event detail]

 

Photos: David Higgins

 

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introduced birdsong

introduced birdsong

Today we conclude our Historic parking lots of Providence project, highlighting thirty of downtown Providence’s surface level parking lots that – contrary to assumptions that they are spaces of transition, neglect, or failed development projects – have in fact been designated as parking lots, and have remained unchanged and in use as such, since at least the 1950s.

 

introduced birdsong [detail]

 

Our intervention into the autumnal city streets today – which we are calling Historic parking lots of Providence / introduced birdsong – completes a line of work that we initiated here back in August with the proposition that the selected lots might be collectively nominated for listing, their impact and character being considered against the National Register’s eligibility criteria of ‘age’, ‘integrity’, and ‘significance’.

 

introduced birdsong [detail]

 

Actively considering the selected lots collectively, as a single site, as a single element of the city’s use and structure, we have introduced identical small movement-sensitive audio devices, each containing the recorded song of a single bird – in this case a Lincoln’s sparrow – into all thirty lots simultaneously, for one working day.

 

introduced birdsong [detail]

 

With this act, the work finds a initial form, that we hope might at least enable direct and daily personal encounters, at a city scale, while allowing us to subtly shift the aural ambient of this city centre in actuality. And its realisation has – as we had also hoped – already provoked questions, conversations, encounters with bemused police officers, and amusement for some of the area’s parking lot attendants…

 

Photos: David Higgins

 

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chorus

chorus

As the low evening sunlight floods the studio, we are opening its doors, for the first public prototyping of some of our introduced birdsong boxes. Installed, in this case, simply as a single fifteen metre choral row along one wall of our temporary home here in Salina – waiting to be met and triggered…

 

introduced birdsong

 

Image: Mike Brookes

 

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greetings from Salina

greetings from Salina

Wrapping up one thread of our engagement with aspects of this city’s past and present – as both a playful exploration of the shifting character of downtown Salina, and an attempt to generate a tangible trace and record of the people we have met here – we have been inviting locals to join us in the realisation of a participatory work we are calling Greetings from Salina / crossroads of the nation.

100 residents have been trying to inset themselves into a series of 20 large scale images we produced from original archived postcards – of the area around the central intersection of Santa Fe and Iron Street, where the city originated, dating between 1900 and 1975 – generating an accumulating series of new and personal postcards…

 

event detail

 

…we are leaving the resulting postcards here, to be exhibited until the end the of the year, when they will be available for collection by all those who appear in them…

 

Image: Mike Brookes

 

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bison stew, beer, and entropy

bison stew, beer, and entropy

Closing the fourth week of our residency here in Salina, we have spent this weekend with the Land Institute – a small but world renowned agricultural research centre sitting just outside the city, now almost forty years into its ongoing mission to develop hybrid perennial grain and oil seed crop species, and practices of polyculture, that might enable “an agriculture as sustainable as the native ecosystems it displaces” – a relaxed and refreshing weekend listening to leading scientist, researchers, economists and financiers, discussing possible futures, in an old open wooden barn, under a very clear blue Kansas sky…

 

parking lot #1

 

untitled [ Salina 14/8/2013 ], digital photograph, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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still thinking about parking lots

still thinking about parking lots

parking lot #1

 

Fountain Street and Mathewson Street, pen and watercolour on paper, 100cm x 175cm, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the parking lots of Providence series.

 

parking lot #1

 

Further details from the parking lots of Providence series can be found in the archive [ here ].

 

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postcard from the past

postcard from the past

postcard #20

 

Greetings from Salina [looking north on Santa Fe Avenue], one of a series of twenty digital images adapted from archived postcards depicting 20th century views of Santa Fe Avenue in Salina KS, dimensions and proportions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the participatory image work Greetings from Salina / crossroads of the nation, part of the just a little bit of history repeating project.

 

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thinking about parking lots

thinking about parking lots

For the first time in quite a while, I find myself drawing as I think. I have never really sketched works, unless I need to describe them to someone else. I think them through, then make them. As usual, these drawings are really just another case of making more than one thing at once – or, at least, shaping more than one form. But they are a sign of how at home I feel in the open warehouse sized studio we have been provided with for our stay here…

 

parking lot #1

 

Broadway and Atwells Avenue, pen and watercolour on paper, 100cm x 75cm, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the parking lots of Providence series.

 

parking lot #1

 

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here we are…

here we are…

Eighteen months after the last public work in the series – in which we ‘revisited’ the now absent buildings of the former Euskalduna Shipyard in Bilbao – we have shifted our focus back to the development of our long term just a little bit of history repeating project. And for this phase, we have moved to the US for the next few months, to work through two separate and distinct located commissions – one in the Rhode Island city of Providence, the other in Salina Kansas.

After an intensive initial ten day research tour of Providence – kindly guided by local residents, historians, archivists and journalists – it’s already time to pause, regather our thoughts, and preparing for the move inland and our introduction to Salina…

 

flag

 

Image: Mike Brookes

 

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drawing for a small boy

drawing for a small boy

balloons

 

el coche [requested drawing], pen and watercolour on paper, 15cm x 20cm, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the requested drawings series.

 

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speaking of art

speaking of art

balloons

 

Gathering with our colleagues from NIDO here in Madrid, we have now initiated the Hablando de arte (Speaking of Art) audio and radio project, after a year of periodic planning.

Drawing on William Furlong’s transcripts of interviews from the Audio Arts archive – we are inviting a selection of guest professionals, friends, and relations, to help us to re-voice translations of those transcripts in to Spanish, as an ongoing independent series of located audio recordings.

To open the series, we selected Furlong’s short conversation with Michael Craig-Martin in London in 1974 – discussing his piece The Oak Tree from the year before.

The words of Furlong, as will always be the case in these recordings, were kindly spoken by secondary school teacher Íñigo Estévez. And those of Craig-Martin, by social worker Paco Fuentes.

For the purposes of this series, those interviews originally taped within London will be voiced and re-recored at locations within the region of Sierra de Guadarrama. In this particular case, we occupied a relatively quiet shady corner of a community swimming pool in the small town of Collado Villalba…

 

balloons

 

Images: Mike Brookes

 

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party

party

balloons

 

untitled [ Peroblasco 14/8/2013 ], digital photograph, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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but it will turn out wrong

but it will turn out wrong

For as long as I can remember, the flow of my work has been punctuated by periods of disengagement. Moments when, for one reason or another, I find myself stepping out and distancing myself – at least far enough to be able to take a look at where I am and what I am doing. This is one of those moments.

In busy times, as recent years have been, I might just need to stop and shake off the accumulating dirt and debris that inevitably attaches and gathers around the work as it rolls along. At other times, proposals simply serve their purpose, or reveal why they won’t, and I can do something else. Sometimes perhaps, I have just had enough – or enough of too little – for a while…

Whatever the provocation in this instance, I find myself in a familiar period of sceptical disinterest. And as I often do at such times, I have also found myself scratching around and pulling out specific fragments from the archive. Revisiting things that seem, in my memory at least – and if only in relation to the things that I am now looking for, or looking to avoid – to persist as moments of clarity.

Here is a fragment that I have been repeatedly returning to, enough to remaster a new video from the original dusty camcorder tape, from an informal fixed camera recording of my first ‘something burning’ – an action I subtitled ‘but it will turn out wrong’ – back in 2000:

 

 

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the dyas sisters / the reading room

the dyas sisters / the reading room

Emptying my camera this morning, after returning from an intense and possibly overdue Quarantine gathering in Manchester, I first pulled out this short series of monochrome images.

Together for ten days, in a stripped bare main-stage auditorium, with a twelve metre projection screen, a collection of old chairs, a photocopier, and as many floodlights as I could get my hands on, we have been opening up elements of The Dyas Sisters project – a project initiated by tasking Grace and Veronica Dyas, sisters from Dublin, with the attempt to describe everything that they could remember happening within their lifetime.

In conclusion, we shaped a place and event to mark the end of that task and the publication of the resulting book – framing a meeting with its first public reading, within some of the other possibilities and elements that were also generated across the process…

 

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #1

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #2

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #3

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #4

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #5

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #6

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #7

 

Additional colour images are available in the archive [ here ]

 

Images: Mike Brookes

 

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confessions of a justified sinner

confessions of a justified sinner

After eighteen months of preparation Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner by Untitled Projects, co-produced by National Theatre of Scotland – my third collaboration with Stewart Laing – has now opened at Tramway in Glasgow, to a range of encouragingly personal and engaged reactions, and a series of 4 star reviews.

The work – taking the form of an archive, exhibition and performed lecture – explores James Hogg’s cult nineteenth century Scottish novel ‘The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner’, by archiving and reconstructing a possible adaptation of the text, staged as a series of experimental site-specific events across Scotland by unknown director Paul Bright over a four year period leading up to Glasgow’s City of Culture year in 1990.

Here are just a handful of snaps from the gallery opening:

 

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #1

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #2

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #3

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #4

 

Images: Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner : exhibition views – Mike Brookes.

 

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village hall dance

village hall dance

merry go round

 

untitled [ Abercych twmpath 11/05/2013 ], digital photograph, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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neighbour

neighbour

merry go round

 

untitled [ Llanon 22/04/2013 ], digital photograph, dimensions variable, Mike Brookes 2013 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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the salon revisited

the salon revisited

A few days in Glasgow, with Stewart Laing and Untitled Projects, where we had all gathered to reopen the doors of The Salon Project. Originally realised in Edinburgh almost eighteen months ago, the immersive impression of a 19th-century Parisian salon – hosting an audience entirely costumed in full period dress, within an evening of discussion and recital – has occupied the stage and auditorium of the Citizens theatre until this weekend.

In April, we will reconvene, and reconstruct, for a run of evenings in the Barbican for this year’s SPILL festival…

 

Salon guests #1

Salon guests #2

Salon guests #3

Salon guests #4

 

Images: salon guests, from photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

 

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merry go round

merry go round

merry go round

 

untitled [ Plaza Mayor 21/12/2012 ], camera phone image, dimensions and proportions variable, Mike Brookes 2012 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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things we do

things we do

Continuing to follow the proposition and possibilities of the perfect human (and the things we do), across its various manifestations – most recently including our occupation of the striped out studio of HAU 2 in Berlin, and our appropriation of a multi-storey carpark in Bilbao – today we are preparing to travel to Bellinzona in Switzerland, where we have been commissioned to realise a new version. This time wthin two ajoining council chambers of the city hall. As always, we will be meeting and performing with a self-selected group of locals.

It was the summer of 2009 when we first presented this piece, in an emptied romanesque church in the centre of Jesi, Italy. And with the events and places that its periodic gatherings have allowed us to construct since, it has become a quiet yet tangible reference point within the range of our recent work.

Not unusually for us – however consistant in its task and architecture – the perfect human is a work that we reconstuct from scratch each time. Taking nothing with us. The particicants, as well as the furniture and infrastucture that shapes it, all being gathered and located in situ. But as I collect and repack my intentions and memories of it, I thought that I would go back to the beginning and post the first pair of images that surfaced for me from within this project, which I made as we were shaping that first proposal for its realistion…

 

the perfect human (and the things we do)

the perfect human (and the things we do)

 

A few images of the perfect human (and the things we do) can be found in the archive [ here ]

 

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a pool of water

a pool of water

My last day in Glasgow, of this visit, where I have been lighting the teaching pool room of a recently derelict WW1 period public bath house in the city’s south side – structuring the light within its tiled walls, using only the skylight openings and internal fixtures provided by its existing architecture. The pool hosts Lifeguard, an intimate devised work by Adrian Howells for the National Theatre of Scotland, made and located within the contested site of the Govanhill Baths, now in the hands of a voluntary trust of locals, who continue to work for its renovation and redevelopment. Our reinstatement of the teaching pool has – amongst other things – resulted in the pool being full of water, and publicly used, for the first time in eleven years…

 

Govanhill teaching pool

 

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bits of somewhere far away

bits of somewhere far away

While considering possible futures for our ongoing What if everything we know is wrong? project, Rosa Casado and I have been sorting through the remnants of its recent past – here are just a handful of scanned polaroids, selected from the fragments we generated across its last phase…

 

Polaroid #3

Polaroid #5

Polaroid #7

Polaroid #9

 

sky #3, #5, #7 and #9 [polaroid series #2] : polaroid photographs, Mike Brookes 2012.

 

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screens and headphones

screens and headphones

Giving myself a little time and distance to reflect on the realities of our run of Coriolan/us last month, I have been spending some of my days slowly reviewing and combining the continuous camera and headphone feeds that we generated and broadcast live within the work – and which were captured and recorded on the evening of our penultimate performance.

Revisiting the details of these mixes, as they formed and unfolded in real time, I have been consciously avoiding the temptation to be drawn to any of the additional images or sounds – or even colours – of the event of that evening. Just focusing instead, as I layer these various mediated threads back together, on those that we intended within the live action itself – and which we met there, via the two large black and white projections and our personal headsets. Trying simply to reconstruct the specific media window that we had opened onto the things that were happening amongst and around us – without any attempt to represent the place and wider activity of the work in its actuality, or our experience of it.

As a real time record, that often not-so-simple act of reconstruction seems to have left me with something as direct as it is revealing – detailing many of our choices and their consequences, if only across the period of one single complete live performance. And while I made it purely as a personal reference document, here are a few low resolution clips – fragments of scenes lifted from the continuous flow of that whole. Small reminders for those who were there. A very partial taster for those who were not…

 

 

Coriolan/us  – Hangar 858, St Athan, 17th August 2012.

 

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an emptied place

an emptied place

Before more detailed traces and remnants of our Coriolan/us project begin to gather, I thought that I would mark its completion with a quick camera phone image, snapped across that portion of hangar 858 temporarily designated ‘rome’, a few minutes after being vacated by the 350 of us who had populated it for the duration of our final performance last Saturday.

 

hangar 858 chairs

 

After Coriolan/us – Hangar 858, St Athan, 22:00, 18th August 2012.

 

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danger

danger

danger of death #1.1

danger of death #1.2

 

danger of death 1.1 + 1.2, graphic image work, modified found sign, dimensions and colours variable, Mike Brookes 2012 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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Houston, we’ve had a problem

Houston, we’ve had a problem

Yesterday saw the latest version of our initial work from What if everything we know is wrong? – performed under soft early evening sunlight, within one of the large empty shower rooms of this former pit head bath house, amongst the vast Zollverein colliery site here in Essen.

This time we subtitled the event Houston, we’ve had a problem – a quote from the American astronaut James Lovell. And after building what we had hoped to meet here, again using only those few fragments and tools that we had chosen to carry in to the room with us, we left everyone following the crackling audio from a contemporary documentary record of the almost fatal Apollo 13 space flight of 1970.

 

chair drawing

 

And that is where we leave the work for now. And shift our focus to other projects for the rest of the summer. Giving the meetings of this month’s interventions a little time and distance to mature and settle. Confident, at least, that there is something tangible to pick up again, when we next decide to return to this conversation.

 

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quiet queen

quiet queen

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five minute queen [silent], video fragment captured on mobile phone, sound removed, dimensions and proportions variable, Mike Brookes 2012 – from the ongoing small pieces of everything series.

 

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what if everything we know is wrong?

what if everything we know is wrong?

Last weekend, commissioned to perform the initial work from our developing What if everything we know is wrong? project, Rosa Casado and I stepped into a large clear room in Artium – Vitoria’s ten year old contemporary art gallery – carrying a bag of pocket dictaphones, a small roll of tape, a black marker pen, and four polaroid photographs. This time we subtitled the event Nosotros pusimos los muertos y ellos disfrutan del cuadro – a quote taken from the writings of painter Antonio Saura (which translates roughly as: We provided the dead and they enjoy the painting). Ultimately using the place built by the work as a context to introduce a recorded reading of Saura’s polemic text Contra el Guernica (Against the Guernica), written in response to the arrival of Picasso’s Guernica in Spain in 1981. Our contribution to the gallery’s current celebrations of the painting’s 75th anniversary.

 

Polaroid #16

Polaroid #15

 

Turning our attention back to this work, after laying the foundations for it last summer, feels quietly positive and timely. And as we have often found in recent years – especially with our most direct interventions – the piece has matured since our last meeting with it, simply by having become a reality in our subsequent thinking.

So now we have gathered up our dictophones and moved the next phase of the project to Essen, where we have taken up residency in PACT Zollverein – another ten year old cultural centre, but this one housed within the former shower facilities of the largest colliery in the Ruhr – part of the vast Zollverien colliery and coking plant complex, closed in the late 1980’s, and now listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.

We will be here for the rest of the month. Three weeks to focus and develop our thoughts within the tangible calm and support of this venue, and the impressively pragmatic and expansive industrial architecture that hosts it. An opportunity to revisit everything we already know about this intimate work, acknowledge what is wrong with it, and find useful ways to live with it.

 

Polaroid #17

Polaroid #18

 

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hangar 858

hangar 858

Today the site for our production of Coriolan/us this coming August has officially been announced – Hangar 858 – a decommissioned WW2 aircraft hanger in St Athan, South Wales. Built in the late 1930’s, and beautifully directly engineered, the vast open space contained and framed below its sweeping single span cast cement ceiling is providing us with both a place to realise this work, and also a context within which we can start to locate it.

On our latest site visit with colleagues from National Theatre Wales we were accompanied by photographer Warren Orchard – and also by Pete Telfer, who will be heading up the team of camera crew working with us live within the heart of this performance, and who took the opportunity to grab some footage for a short video of the visit for Culture Colony.

Here are a few clips pulled from that footage:

 

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Hangar 858, NTW site visit, 01/05/2012 – video courtesy of Pete Telfer and Culture Colony.

 

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some things happen, some things don’t

some things happen, some things don’t

At the heart of any event – memorable or otherwise – something concrete is happening. An obvious statement in itself, but still an acknowledgement that has engaged my thoughts a lot in recent years. And is again.

As I find myself focusing more and more on the structures and behaivours that might balance our intentions for Coriolan/us, I am inevitably asking myself what I might really be wanting to happen there. And over the past few days – as my thoughts have turned towards the crowd of people who will meet us there, and who will ultimately shape each performance of this work – I have again found myself revisiting the intentions and events of past works, particularly those that I have structured specifically to invite and animate social gatherings in public space. Events where the main thing that was happening was simply ‘us’.

Today I have been revisiting something happening / snapshot – the collective title for a series of located interventions that Rosa Casado and I have periodically performed since 2008. A series in which each work proposes a single direct act as the focus and impetus for a social event. At its simplest, these works do something, while spectators are invited to complete the work by entering and being photographed within it – the event taking shape both in the resulting series of photographs, and in the progressive and often strangely accumulative attempts to realise them. The generated images being immediately printed as postcards, and made available to anyone who appears in them.

While digging around in the something happening archive I found a copy of a press release, published one summer evening in 2009, when we were forced to cancel one such intervention. We had planned to step out of a building and walk across the city of Zadar in Croatia, crossing through the busy and narrow streets of its medieval centre, picked out and very visibly tracked by the searchlight of a low flying police helicopter – one of us dressed as a bear and the other carrying a camera. As in similar events, beyond our meeting with the city itself, our task was simply to capture and reveal the series of personel and passing encounters with the bear that would inevitably mark our journey, each within the flash of a single photograph. But as we prepared to start, the police helicopter – the only one available in the region – was called away to support a missing person search in nearby mountains.

Under the title “some things happen / some things don’t”, the press release reads: “Sometimes things happen that allow us to see ourselves. Sometimes events unfold in ways that allow us to recognise our choices and our assumptions. Often these events are at the extremes of our experience. The attempt to make something happen – something that might allow us to meet ourselves, and each other, within the actuality of our daily lives – could be futile. But not hopeless. Our attempt to make something happen in Zadar this evening was simply an attempt to make such meetings more possible – if only for a moment. We tried to combine events and circumstances, in a useful conjunction – a conjunction that might possibly enable much more than merely the sum of its parts. But, in this moment, we failed to overcome the project’s inherent futility. For some of us, the attempt itself has been revealing. But for most of this city, tonight, nothing will happen that wouldn’t have happened anyway. Events will unfold largely as expected. Maybe that is a good thing. And maybe it isn’t. We will try again”. The release is signed “Mike Bookes and Rosa Casado – Zadar, 20:00, August 11th, 2009”.

Along with this statement I found five postcards from the bear’s first outing – a journey through a crowd, of over three hundred people gathered in the unlit clearing of a wood in the middle of the night, in the rural north of Spain. Something in the quality and proximity of these snapshots reminds me what I would like to meet within the field of activity that will become Coriolan/us. The postcards show five simple images, produced at the initiation of an event, as it gathered and orientated itself. They are the only images from that evening that don’t yet show all the other people who were about to shape the work, but only glimpses of the place that it constructed – formed and revealed as a progression of flashlit moments, in the otherwise dark void of that night…

 

300 people and a bear

300 people and a bear

300 people and a bear

300 people and a bear

300 people and a bear

 

A selection of the images generated during 300 people and a bear / snapshot can be found in the archive [ here ].

 

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b

b

Last year I was approached by the Swiss company Trickster-p, and asked to design a proposal for the second work within their ongoing trilogy of theatre installation pieces, structured as audio led journeys through theatrical environments – not a form that I have an affinity for, as they well knew – but that in itself made the conversation interesting.

My own intentions – coming very much from a desire to help enable the company’s poetic, while also looking for a literal physical intervention for the project – inevitably echoed those that endlessly circle my attempts to locate my own work, regardless of its form or context. I have always found it helpful to approach theatrical space as simply another location. Especially when being asked to build within someone else’s.

However immersive a journey through the interior of the work was hoped to be, it seemed very clear to me that a credible interior has to be contained – by both an architecture and an exterior. To say that only an actual container can really have an inside, is clearly as much a truism as a conceptual position – but in my experience, the task usually comes down to the act of choosing and reasserting something self-evident.

If my questions, at their simplest, were about how to context a theatrical journey within a pragmatic structure of undisguised elements – then my answer, in this case, was a directly placed collection of visibly freestanding temporary rooms…

 

b exterior #1

b exterior #2

 

The resulting work – called b – opened in Bellinzona, Switzerland, last month. Stills from a selection of the interiors can be found in the archive [ here ].

 

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lifeguard

lifeguard

A few short days in Glasgow, catching up with old friends and new – discussing Lifeguard, a new work with Adrian Howells and the National Theatre of Scotland, planned for this coming autumn. A work that hopes to locate itself within a recently derelict public baths in the city, requiring at least a partial restoration of one area of the site.

I have been asked to look at light. And am very happy to do just that. In a site that can only clarify my ideas as I work with it. And stood amongst the familiar functionality of its well used social space, the questions and puzzles raised by the architecture of this intimate place – echoing those running through much of my current work – are also usefully functional and familiar.

How to reveal and animate this place, temporarily rebalancing it for a new purpose, without denying either it or our intervention, and without turning it into somewhere else?

I am looking forward to finding a balance for those questions here, and other places, over the coming months.

 

pool tiles #1

 

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are we there yet?

are we there yet?

I always look forward to site visits. Even when they are likely to end in disappointment, they are still revealing. The collective decision to step beyond the theoretical that provokes them is always helpful in itself. Looking for somewhere to meet, a place where our intentions might actually happen – in reality – requires a pragmatic engagement with what we might really be doing that can only clarify.

It is always what things are, in their actuality, rather than what they may or may not imply, that engages me.

Both conceptually and culturally, our objectives can increasingly lead us into searches for the simply ‘not wrong’ – for workable relationships with the ‘good enough’, or at least the ‘not bad’ – either in an attempt to embrace all the ambivalence of real things, or simply through necessity.

But a few days ago, stepping out of the car after a long drive to South Wales, I found myself stood in the middle of somewhere – with its particular balance of the difficult and the inspiring – that could actually be exactly what I was looking for. A place with real scale and grand functionality – in this case born of 30’s rationalist architecture and the pragmatism of the period’s heavy engineering – but open and practical enough not to insist on any particular aspect of its own long story.

 

site 858

 

It might even be the right place. Or at least have provided a glimpse of what the right place might be.

 

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¿todo bajo control? [ everything under control? ]

¿todo bajo control? [ everything under control? ]

Rosa Casado and I [foreground] snapped at a successful ‘bring your own wine and headphones’ silent concert experiment in a small Madrid apartment last weekend – courtesy of colleagues Gichi-Gichi Do.

 

Gichi-Gichi 'silent' concert

 

And the sound experiments continue…

 

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located or camping?

located or camping?

As Mike Pearson and I simultaneously turn up the heat on our Coriolan/us process with the new year, trading thoughts over distance for little while longer, it seems that we have reached that familiar turning point where we both start re-asking the hard and big questions – but this time in order to really answer them.

It is a turning point that I always enjoy. The chance to challenge my assumptions, sweep away the debris and start to nail some things down. And then we can really start to deal with the accumulating consequences of our decisions.

For me, at this point, the focus of my challenge is on all things ‘site’. Where might these thoughts and questions really happen? And how might they actually behave there? Do they live where we will meet them? Or are we all just passing through?

But today – in those productive little gaps that open up behind and between the things that I am supposed to be solving, where my thoughts often come to understandings that I wasn’t specifically arguing for – I realise that I have been mainly thinking about caravans. Doodling while I should be doing something else. Starting with a little eighties tourer remix…

 

80's caravan [blue]

80's caravan [green]

80's caravan [brown]

80's caravan [violet]

 

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looking for something

looking for something

As a busy and productive year comes to an end, and having finally landed on my own sofa for a while, with a little space and time to think, I have found myself wandering the web, in search of something – traces of some refreshing proposal or idea that I have missed, that might bring me that smile of recognition, and help blown away the dust that seems to have collected on some of my thoughts – like a breath of artistic fresh air.

Tired as I am, I think I still have enough self awareness to understand that I am really looking for a spark in my own thoughts, rather than encouragement  from others. But, even so, for now, the search seems to have cast more shadows than light.

When the accumulating clips of copy and documentation start to provoke cautionary voices from the past, it is probably best just to look away.

These last few days it has been echoes of Sol Lewitt that have been whispering warnings to me as I explore. “Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution, while it is difficult to bungle a good idea” I hear him say, “what the work looks like isn’t too important, it has to look like something if it has physical form, but no matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea” – “the idea becomes a machine that makes the art” – “not theoretical or illustrative of theories” – “new materials are one of the great afflictions of contemporary art, some artists confuse new materials with new ideas” – and finally, “one usually understands the art of the past by applying the conventions of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past”.

To which I can only add my own concerns at possibilities in the present being misunderstood – or just missed – through conventions assumed from the past. Having old modernist voices returned to my mind with an “I told you so” edge, is always disheartening – however insightful and pragmatic the particular statements might be.

So I have decided to stop looking, and spend a bit of time drawing and listening to The Fall. Which is helping.

And, as the same echo also reminds me, “if the statements I make are unclear it may mean the thinking is unclear”.

 

a piece of cake

 

Image: Mike Brookes, ‘a piece of cake’, oil on canvas, 30.5cm x 35.5cm, 2004 – from the ongoing small dilemmas series.

 

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standing still in cities

standing still in cities

Here are three short fragments of video I have been revisiting – from CCTV surveillance footage recorded by South Wales Police during work that Mike Pearson, Ed Thomas and I were doing together in Cardiff, back in 2002 – and posted simply on the assumption that when something comes into focus enough for me to dig it out of the archive and take another look at it, it probably has something to do with what I’m currently thinking about.

The police had told us that, from the point of view of their surveillance cameras, the most conspicuous thing we could do in the public space of the city centre was to stand still for too long…

 

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…standing still for us in this selection are Russell Gomer, Richard Harrington, and Richard Lynch.

 

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a map to find meetings in places that aren’t there

a map to find meetings in places that aren’t there

Euskalduna plan #1

 

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time lapse

time lapse

Three photos of the just a little bit of history repeating site in Bilbao – firstly the working Euskalduna shipyard and docks, then its subsequent dereliction, and the present (the Guggenheim is nestling behind the tower block that now stands over one end of the site):

 

Euskalduna #1

Euskalduna #2

Euskalduna #3

 

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visiting absent buildings

visiting absent buildings

Rosa Casado and I are back in Bilbao, a city that we have begun to form a bit of a relationship with over recent years, having been awarded two separate residencies here, and now two public commissions. We will be based here for the next two weeks, as we complete a new located work from our just a little bit of history repeating project.

Here, we are realising the work with four ex-workers from the Euskalduna shipyards – the industrial heart of this city until it was closed in 1984 – and will present it within the open public spaces that now occupies much of the vast Euskalduna site, adjacent to the Guggenheim, on the bank of the river.

Tomorrow this final phase of the work here will begin at site, as we try to meet fragments of the now absent shipyard buildings that were central to the working days of these four individual former employees, simply through their in situ personal descriptions of details and movements within the architecture of those buildings.

 

press image #1

press image #2

 

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entitled

entitled

Tonight sees the final performance of this year’s tour of Entitled  – my eleventh collaboration with old friends and long-term colleagues Quarantine.

“…devised with three technicians (Greg Akehurst, Chris Whitwood and Lisa Mattocks), three dancers (John Killroy, Joanne Fong and Fiona Wright), and a writer (Sonia Hughes), Entitled takes the form of a theatrical ‘get-in’ and a ‘get-out’: the usually hidden choreography of transforming a theatre from an empty space into a stage for a show, and back again…”

This afternoon, while they will all have been making ready for this last night, I have been allowing myself to wander around the various fragments of the work’s process that still cover my desktop – and revisiting some of it’s questions. Which I look forward to exploring further.

Here are just a handful of Simon Banham’s shots from the tour’s opening – in Manchester, back in July:

 

entitled still #1

entitled still #2

entitled still #3

entitled still #4

 

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the salon project wardrobe

the salon project wardrobe

…a couple more shots from The Salon Project, Edinburgh, but this time from the other side of the salon walls – amongst audience members at the beginning of their evening, being dressed before entering – again, courtesy of photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan:

 

Salon wardrobe #1

Salon wardrobe #2

 

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the salon project

the salon project

I have just left Edinburgh, after opening The Salon Project – my second collaboration with Stewart Laing, and his company Untitled Projects.

We have built and structured somewhere, a specifically temporary place, that might context and sustain the immersive social gathering of seventy five fully costumed spectators and participants – each individually fitted from a vast wardrobe of period dress – across a three hour salon event of proposition, recital, discourse and conversation.

And, in this case, I built light.

 

Salon still #1

Salon still #2

Salon still #3

 

Images: Rose English with audience members and pianist Ed Cohen, captured by the project’s photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan, on the evening the salon first opened its doors.

 

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twenty five thousand words, spoken one at a time

twenty five thousand words, spoken one at a time

A day in Cardiff. Mike Pearson and I met a cast of fourteen actors, with colleagues from the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre Wales, for an open cold reading of the full unedited text of Coriolanus, amongst an informal gathering within the public space of the Senedd in Caridff Bay. Culminating, as the building closed its doors for the day, out in the last of the afternoon sun, on the building’s steps.

My sincerest thanks to everyone involved. Being able to meet the text, animated so directly, in public space, was even more useful than I had hoped.

 

Senedd reading #1

Senedd reading #2

 

The generous readers were: Simon Armstrong, Patrick Brennan, Alex Clatworthy, Tomos Eames, Richard Elis, Roger Evans, Bradley Freegard, Nia Gwynne, Derek Hutchinson, Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, Richard Lynch, Nichola McAuliffe, Steffan Rhodri and David Sibley.

 

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can everyone see me if I stand on this chair?

can everyone see me if I stand on this chair?

chair #1

 

Last night Rosa Casado and I performed the first public work from our What if everything we know wrong? project, under the chandeliers and crystal wall lights of Brown’s Alumnae Hall, where we tried to reconstruct somewhere else – somewhere specific that we know, and have been trying to unpick.

From a bag containing thirty pocket dictaphones, three polaroids and a piece of chalk, we built a meeting place under the title Natural is how you found things when you checked-in – a line taken from a lecture by the late Buckinster Fuller – for a crowd gathered within the otherwise cleared room.

The polaroids imperfectly detailed two chairs and a radio. The chalk simply allowed me to locate those objects at scale. The dictaphones carried fragments and details of captured sound, and one archive recording from Buckminster Fuller’s epic forty-two hour lecture – recorded over two weeks of January 1975 – which he called Everything I know.

 

dictaphone #2

 

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unnecessary activity in a room

unnecessary activity in a room

Over this past week it has become increasingly clear that the work we are trying to propose here is simply a visible public attempt to construct one place, from collected fragments and details, within another place, where it wouldn’t otherwise be present – and the use of that attempt to allow the possible meeting place that then becomes at least apparent in that act. There are other things that we enjoy doing at the same time, and other things that we would like to be able to do there – but in reality, none of them are helpful.

The more I explore drawing to locate those otherwise absent details, for example, the more minimal the ‘pictorial’ elements of the place I am trying construct demand to be – however engaging the hastily drawn forms and the act of their drawing might be.

 

flower #2

dictophone #1

 

So I am focusing on what I can directly construct from a bag full of fragments of captured sound. And limiting the pictures simply to a few objects that are useful for us to have with us, but which aren’t present. In this instance, what I can build directly with placed sound is both more tangible and more complex. And retains enough of the ambivalence and indifference – and reality – of both places.

If that is where this work sits, that is where we will work with it.

 

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an act of representation

an act of representation

Today I am packing for a month long residency in the States – an invitation split between New York and Rhode Island, culminating in an event at Brown University. The invitation, and our intention, is to find form for a new performance project we are calling What if everything we know is wrong?.

Creatively, all I am packing is twenty pocket dictaphones (each containing a separate fragment of ambient sound), a handful of Polaroids (partial reminders of a selection of visual details), and some chalk.

At the heart of What if everything we know is wrong?  there was always going to be a direct act of representation. Overt representation, devoid of metaphor. I find myself increasingly irritated by assumptions of metaphor. There was always going to be an open public space, in which we might try to reveal where we are through our attempts to construct a tangible representation of somewhere else – and hopefully realise a meeting place in the process.

I have decided to build that place using only drawing, fragments of captured sound, and a handful of blurred snapshots for reference…

 

Polaroid #1

Polaroid #2

Polaroid #4

Polaroid #6

 

…what that act of construction might propose and enable is yet to be seen.

 

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a title recycled for works containing nothing new

a title recycled for works containing nothing new

As I head off to Bilbao to meet ex-workers from the Euskalduna shipyards, who have kindly agreed to work with Rosa and I on the next work from our just a little bit of history repeating project – commissioned for this coming autumn – I have been revisiting some of the project’s previous thoughts and proposals, revealed through our attempts to return found sounds or descriptions of past places and events to the sites that they describe.

As usual, these works are manifest mainly in the meeting. Or at least, in having happened nearby. But for those who missed it at the time, here is a trace from one of the first two manifestation last summer – Alexandra Gardens Bandstand – sound placed in public space, broadcast via FM radio amongst the amusements of Weymouth’s seafront promenade, accessible to anyone with a radio who chose to engage with it:

 

 

More about the Bilbao commission when it develops…

 

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one thing leads to another

one thing leads to another

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…a small detail from mine and Rosa’s intervention in Olot last weekend. A small cement town of 1500 individual little cement houses, some of them burning.

 

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enactment + autopsy

enactment + autopsy

THE ASSASSINATION OF LLWYD AP IWAN BY THE OUTLAWS WILSON AND EVANS

 

A couple of months ago, picking up threads from our recent conversations, Mike and I proposed a performance event sustained by the attempt to realise a screenplay live, visibly and with specifically limited resources, within a crowded room. In collaboration with nine post-graduate performance students from Aberystwyth University, we proposed to readdress an unmade screenplay from the Brith Gof archive.

The screenplay, developed by the late Cliff McLucas in 1993, describes a television film narrating the shooting of Llwyd ap Iwan by two outlaws at Nant-y-Pysgod in the foothills of the Andes in 1909, within the context of Welsh emigration to Patagonia from 1865, and drawing on elements from the performance work Patagonia created by Brith Gof in 1992. McLucas’s script combines a complete storyboard of 228 frames, with unfinished texts, soundtrack details, instructions to actors and information on camera movements – and unfolds around the making of a silent film.

The script was never filmed.

On the evening of May 20th 2011, as the culmination of a month long exploration, we made our final attempt to realise the visuals and soundtrack detailed within the script, as faithfully as possible, frame for frame, live and in real time, amongst a crowd of spectators – armed only with four live cameras, an old analogue vision mixer, found and drawn images, printed texts, a selection of objects and models, six live microphones, a loop station guitar peddle, a handful of acoustic instruments, and some fancy dress.

Here is an unedited inline recording of the on-screen material generated in that attempt:

 

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Realised by Holly Dacre-Davis, Melissa Donaldson, Karoline Grushka, Dafydd Hall Williams, Alec Hughes, Lisa Morris, Tilly Phillips, Fraser Stevens and Nik Wakefield; in collaboration with Mike Brookes and Mike Pearson.

 

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welcome

welcome

Following the success of our located production of The Persians, within the landscape of an MOD range in the Brecon Beacons, for the 2010 inaugural session of National Theatre Wales; Mike Pearson and I have been asked to develop a new large scale theatre event based on Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, in collaboration with National Theatre Wales and the Royal Shakespeare Company, to be performed within the World Shakespeare Festival as part of the Cultural Olympiad 2012.

In its origins, this new work, which we are calling Coriolan/us, draws on Shakespeare’s original text, Brecht’s unfinished adaptation Coriolan, and The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising by Günter Grass.

I am opening this exploratory blog project as an ongoing attempt to see what might build here in parallel to my other processes – and initially to see what might collect here, over the period of this coming year, as we develop Coriolan/us.

As much as possible, I intend to limit myself to simple descriptions, recordings and drawings – as traces and fragments of the things that I remember or do. And to post these fragments as I consider them – their chronology reflecting a progression across the work, rather than its history, or daily life.

There will be many things that I choose to keep to myself – most things probably. I have never been very interested in process for its own sake. Not even when the process is mine.

My hope is simply that, as time and the work progress, my periodic posts here might accumulate – and that their accumulation might reveal something useful. They may, of course, remain merely a pile of fragments. In which case, I will be able to throw them away.