this series of articles will focus on our experience of the six viewpoints, frame by frame, as we experiment in rehearsals with material from mary overlie’s forthcoming book, “standing in space.” at her encouragement, we are picking frames at random.
frame: news of a difference
we began with a focusing pre-exercise:
listening to john luther adams's inuksuit, part i and part ii, in the dark of the apartment.
then on to the viewpoints exercise:
we chose to focus on red grapes in search of news of a difference. we gnashed. we took great graping fistfuls. we peeled with our teeth. we became benign bacchanalians.
sophia embodied the grape, composing a short piece in the studio:
rachel re-created the experience in a writing freestyle:
grape taste grate grape grope grip grape dribble crunch grape slice melon tongue grape juice junked juked jerked jam grape jelly jingle belly grape ground molar grapes squirrel stored grapes hoarde grape balls of fire grape palm grape palmed grape grimace grump grinching grape grappling garble grape garbage garrolously grape grinning purple polyp grabbing graping grape raping grendl grape dragon drank flagon grapey ade bring the aid of grade vined heard through grave vines vinyard bursting plump mellow gradual
r.b.: viewpoints are tough for me. maybe because i'm not an actor or dancer. maybe because i didn't go to art school. but definitely because i find letting go of narrative to be practically impossible. experimental narrative? sure. nonlinear narrative? sounds great. but purely observational, purely sensory writing? i just putter out. purpose, for better or worse, is essential to me, and seeing the purpose in the practice of viewpoints beyond a theoretical good is a struggle. in particular the anarchistic attitude toward potential materials. if you let it all in, is there any energy left to give out? there i go again, considering that pesky point b before attempting point a.
our first round of the news of a difference exercise in the studio was particularly rough. we picked focus at random. so i fixated on a hole in the brick wall and proceeded to drown in boredom from poking and prodding and sniffing and traipsing around. poor sophia had to deal with half an hour of me carping about the focusing excellence of hierarchy. in collaboration i am constantly reminded of my defensiveness.
s.t.: to be seeing for the first time the complexity, subtlety, infinitesimal parts of your environment. i walked outside of cave and found a cafe directly across the street that I had no idea existed. the grand street park at dusk, just the edges of the buildings across the river aglow, outlined in fuchsia. that is our decorative sunset tonight. a man taking down a camera crane for the first ever hulu tv show. this is the future of television, he says, customized. but using a huge camera crane for sky shots of what will be a ghost added in post production is not as fun because you can’t have camera movement if you want to affordably layer an image in. so not his favorite kind of shoot, no creativity in point-and-shooting anymore, he wants to move, he wants to feel the weight of his camera changing as it glides over treetops.
people aren’t so scary, at least not today. i am relieved to be giving myself the time to look, to smell, to investigate without the pressure of proving a theory correctly. i am also relieved to direct such lasting and hungry and delicate focus to something other than myself. to the inuksuit, to the grape, to the river wind against my face and the color of the sky and the east river ferry floating by, to the camera man and the once-invisible cafe.
final thoughts from r.b.:
i will admit that it got me considering boredom. i remember d.t. max speculating that david foster wallace actually died of boredom. i know my daily life in the corporate box is certainly a keyboarded matrix of boredom. what place could this have in my artwork? i like the ancients. i like big bold epics. should things of that nature be inflected by the life i really live from day to day? is the life i live from day to day really something i want to share? i'm having trouble imagining a welsh bard flourishing up on the meadhall table with the line, 'today i realized i am nearly out of butter / i will set a reminder in my cellphone to buy butter.' then again, i’m thinking product, not process. seems like i have a very long way to go.
a poem from s.t. in closing:
a grape needs to be macerated to be tasted.
otherwise, it is barely sweet water barely just barely suckable from the tissue.
and that is only after you’ve peeled it with your teeth.
if you haven’t peeled the grape with your teeth, gums get tough.
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