It’s Over… (COMP)

May 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Oh dear, it’s over.

Crossing Of Movements Project turned out to be quite the success.  We had about 100 people crammed into the various spaces in the Total Art Museum, which made for an interesting time.

Stayed out late last night, having a yarn, you know.

But now, we are going to get breakfast.

Things that went wrong today:

May 29, 2009 § 1 Comment

This is the day before our performance of the Modern Dance Festival Showcase is scheduled to open.

I had to stay up till 2am to hang out my washing, because I do not know how to make the cycle less than 90 minutes.

Consequently, I overslept.

I was not organised or motivated enough to get ready to leave for rehearsal on time.

Due to the excessive amount of pork consumed last night, when I did decide to leave, I had an unexpected bout of diarrhoea, which further delayed my departure.

I realised that I had no money (due to the expensive dinner of pork), but decided that, rather than get it out on the way to the subway station, I would get it out at Gyeongbokgung station before I transferred to a bus to get ot the space.

I ate half a packet of digestive biscuits on the subway for breakfast.

The train did not stop at Gyeongbokgung.  As I am not as fluent in Korean as I would like, and I generally ignore PA announcements, I did not realise that the city centre was in lock down due to the Korean ex-president’s funeral.

I got off at the next available stop, and had no idea where I was.  I had to walk for almost 1 kilometre down the road till I came to a Family Mart that had an international ATM.

I then got a taxi to the space, and by this time was already 45 minutes late.

There were literally thousands of policemen in the city.  I counted 50 buses up one side of the street, and there were at least 10 streets the same.  But when I say policmen, I really mean young boys.  Who look 17 but are really at least 21.  Looking pretty in their unifroms, but not at all menacing.

I finally made it.

Everything was going fine until we came to rehearse with the metal scaffold that had hand-wired lights attached to it.

When the directors tried to fix the lights (which were sparking) with scizzors, I decided that I had had enough, and would stand in a dark corner until it was over.

They made me climb the scaffold, even though I am sure my travel insurance does not cover it.

We have been here for 8 hours, and done about 2.5 hours worth of work.



I accepted a lift home with the very good Korean Dancing Boys.  But it took longer than the subway.

And I had bad, bad packet pasta to wich I added bad, bad ‘Californian’ olives from a tin that tasted like bunya nuts. No joke.

I don’t want it to seem like all I do is complain, or that I hate my job, or that I am not enjoying myself.

But being a ‘professional gypsy’ can be hard.


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…getting pretty serious…

May 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

On Monday we met once again at the Total Museum of Contemporary Art.  This is the venue for our open showcase, COMP (Crossing Of Movements Project) that will premiere next Saturday.  We have had a while now to get oriented with the space, to explore Seoul, so start generating material, and to create improvised performance together.

The final showcase however will be a more meticulously curated, constructed and choreographed event.

After a series of discussions, we settled on a general plan for the use of the space, and divided the workload amongst us.  The space is on three levels, with the third, and most underground level being used as the ‘stage’ for the crowing glory – a one-hour piece of interdisciplinary performance.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Been Busy…

May 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

So, this week we have been busy refining the ideas and implementation of our showcase next Saturday.

It has gone relatively smoothly.

Have visited some more places, made more observations.

I have a long subway ride ahead of me today, so I will take that time to reflect.

But for now, Vegemite on toast is in order I think.

Transcript. Day 11.

May 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

COMP Meeting Friday, May 15, 2009 – 2.00 pm

Present:     Soonho, Kyeonghi, Fonkam, Hakima, Jeremy, Rasun, Oliver,
CJ, Akino Sauri

Absent:     Xenia

Agenda:     Discussing our ideas for the performance.

Location:    Maxwell House
Rehearsal room,
Finally basement of dormitory building.  2.45 pm

Because it will rain tomorrow, we have decided that we will go to the Korean National Museum, rather than the Korean Folk Village at Gyeonggi-do.  We will meet at 12 at the principal entrance of the museum.

Next Tuesday, CJ wants to go to traditional market (Yoran ShiJang) that is open every 5 days.  They work it out by opening on every date that ends in a 4 or 9.  Meet at Exit 3 at Yangjae Station.  Then we will go to a factory.

Monday we will go back to Total Museum at 11 am.

We will debrief about yesterday’s performance, and then discuss how to get to the next stage.

But first, more waiting. This time for SoonHo to get off the phone.

We will each talk about our ideas for the final performance, apparently further debrief is not necessary.

HAKIMA:    It will be better if we do not split off into our art groups to make work, so we make some small works that are cross disciplinary.  Also, if we swap our disciplines, it may be interesting.  One of the problems yesterday was that we were stuck in our own ways and our own art.  We can make work groups that meet during the day and bring our ideas together at night.

SOONHO:     But what do you want to make? For the final performance.  What are your ideas. (Apparently not interested in working methods).

HAKIMA:     Ok

KYOONHI:    1st Floor.  In the corner of the main room. I am thinking about putting something here.  There is a sketch I have made of a huge sack with feet, looks like a human.  It’s a stretch material bag, with just cast feet on the bottom.  Stuff it.  Just sitting like exhausted people, they lie and sit.

Can we make them like costumes?

SH:    Are they separated, so we can place them anywhere

KH:    Yes.

SH:    Do you have already?

KH:    Yes.

SH:    Is wondering what it means, what is the intention and the meaning.  So the dancer can use.

KH:    For me I have been living here for me whole life.  When I walk around I can’t see the new things, I already know everything. People look tired every time I see them. I just want to express my thoughts about that. Tired, sitting like lifeless sack.  That’s what I was thinking about.  It would be good with some nice sound, or something like the subway. It might be good.

They might be shapeless.

SAURI:        I think that the image in Seoul is very important.  I have already got some ideas, many ideas, but that is a sound image.  It is always a sound image, I cannot express, doesn’t know what the image is.  I cannot express in words what it is.  The relationship about Korea. He sees the Korean city and has an impression, but he cannot explain with words.  It is from a feeling.  It is an imagination.

SH:    I am sorry, we can discuss this later, I just want to have everyone’s ideas.

OLIVER:    In some rooms I want to use three walls to make immersive works.  I want to shoot different places, and place the dancers into the worlds.  Projection and live dancers together.  (Max MSP).  We can video dancers and insert them in the world.

SH:    What is the reason for choosing these places. You need to explain to us so we can find the connection between them.

OL:    Like Sauri, I think you need to feel the connection. Maybe we can all go there together, and you will be able to feel the impression of the place, and then dance for me.

SH:    Because you don’t need to explain the intentions, but maybe you can explain WHAT you feel so you can share it.

OL:    No. I don’t think I can.

SH:    Then why did you choose it.

OL:    Because some place I like, and some place I don’t like.

SH:    But Why.

OL:    It is foreign, and there is no small shops, I cannot buy cigarette.

SH:    Good.

Oliver showed some more work.

JERMY:    It reminded me of the rule, if you don’t buy it now, you never will.  Because the continuous panorama is relentless, you are disoriented, and always there is a new place to see, that if you don’t take a picture or take stock of where you are, then you will never go there again.  That is my feeling.

HAKIMA:    I’m confused about how the performance will work.  If we perform for an hour, or not.

SH:    Once we collect the work we will curate it as an exhibition, that includes the performance.

AKINO:    I want to dance with Oliver’s video. I can dance on the screen, and I can use the image to dance live as well.

SAURI:        I want to make the sound with the Korean city noise and talking in an immersive sound field, with noise everywhere.  Only use Korean sound and noise. For example Korean instruments.  There is existing instruments in Japan, but it is different.  Like the city noise, and all noises, they are different, there is different qualities.  I want to make just like I am in a room, it is no special music, only daily music, daily sounds, but it is music.

KY:    Maybe we can make an installation about it?

SH:    Normally video installation is fixed, and boring. But if it is possible to move the projection to different places, it will be interesting.

OLIVER:    We would need many projectors.

SH:    Oh.

We will try to sauce some more.

Big discussion about technical requirements of the piece.  A bit boring.


HAKIMA:    I don’t have a clear idea, not ambience, too, but many point. I made one video and maybe I like it, but maybe not, but I work with many different images, now I finish one, and now I work with different images, but for me I cannot choose which one to use.  One if finished, and I will make another three or four.  I would like to use Akino as a voice with Hakima’s voice, we can make something together, and Sauri can make sound, not just for my piece, I will use sound that he has used already for the work.  This is why I want to know about the timeline of the piece, if there will be too many things happening at once.

My idea is to have one place with accidents between ideas, with a collision between forms.  For me the city is like that, there is many accidents with sounds an images and bodies and architecture.

Making a space with not much information, but it’s not a clear idea.

CJ:    y idea is to make a mutil-layered fence, which we can cut windows out of, project on and have the dancers dancing around it.  It will be gradually destroyed.

Lighting and projection and shadow. Etc.

KH: We are going to put scaffolding from and there will be lighting in the middle, then create the fence around the statue or something, and it will be round and straight. We will cut out the fabric and they will drop one by one, and finally the post will appear.


SH:    As a dancer, what I think about the installation is the similar image to a city, it is quite dry, and the relationship between people is unclear. When we will use it, we will not be seen clearly – this is similar to a city. So I think that this kind of feeling is not clear, is illusion, is emptiness, dancers can develop this.

J:    Let’s be careful not to fall into the trap of being in one idea or feeling for the whole performance.

SH:     This is just one idea

J:     ok, I know, I understand.

OL:    We want to hear Fonkam’s Ideas now.

FONKAM: I am thinking I want the idea like the last performance, like a line, to see how from the entrance we can have something like a many coloured line on the floor maybe in tape, so that from the entrance we have one line on the floor that branches out in many different directions all the way down to the third floor.  So it is like the lines of the subway.  I have a drawing here of the dancer outside, wearing many different colours, giving the idea that they audience needs to go down.

So that there is a physical connection between each performance, installation, work.  I am thinking about how each dancer can move.  I would like to have interaction between the dancers and the audience. Sometimes we can dance in the audience, sometimes make them dance.  Like our last performance.

I was thinking that I liked how we performance, I like to think about how we can make the audience move between the spaces.

J:    You don’t need to be overstated. You can very simply make an audience move.  You don’t need to be obvious.

SH:    I like the lines on the floor.  It is like giving a destination to the audience.  We can use the first and second for this, and have them disappear on the third, so it maybe is some writing or something, so it has the feeling of being lost and confused.

We have good ideas about the rest of the exhibition now. Let’s focus on the 3rd floor.  We are going to do dance and installation here, here and here. There may be some empty places.

The Excitement Of Collaboration

May 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

Tomorrow I will tell you what we did today. But as for this evening…

Let’s just say that tonight’s artist laboratory bordered on the hideous.

We are preparing for a guerrilla performance tomorrow at Kookmin University, a kind-of demonstration for the dance and art faculties.  We were given the stimulus for the mostly-improvised performance on Monday.  The concept… Subway.

We were broken up into our respective art-form groups, and given two days to prepare material for tonight’s rehearsal.  Last night, Soonho, Fonkam, Akino and myself rehearsed in the studio.  As I was sick on Monday, I was underprepared (nobody told me we had a theme, or that my homework was to prepare a movement idea for the rehearsal).

Nevertheless, the other dancers shared their ideas; we improvised, discussed and rehearsed.  We came up with three simple concepts

1: The idea of the pedestrian versus the interesting.  This manifested itself as an opening image of pedestrians crossing the space, gradually building until the collide, like small atoms shooting across space, bouncing off each other and continuing on their new, altered course.

2: Second was a line of dancers, standing in normal, neutral, everyday positions, and slowly coming alive and pressing through the negative space in front of them.  Gradually, this expanded into an expressionist transformation of the simple gesture of drawing a line, or in some cases, pegging a line of string in the air.  This in turn transformed to the negotiation of a highly engaged body navigating this imaginary web of lines, almost like a commuter navigating a Subway Map.

This had a second incarnation as an open improvisation on the drawing / pegging theme.

3.  The last idea was of a woman, dreaming on the subway. Standing still, or slowly walking in a dream state.  She is encountered by a dream (and the form of one of the male dancers) that tries in vain to distract her, finally picking her up and moving her to another physical location.  This was a nice play on the idea that the train, and the dream become one, both are vehicles for the physical body and the consciousness.

We brought this to the rehearsal.

The visual artists brought three skeins of sheer white fabric, and the musicians brought a rather good soundscape / ambient piece using found sounds and live voice.

The problem came when we tried to collaborate.  There was no real established working methodology, common language (linguistic or practical), or chain of command.   We fist tried to do an open impro based on the idea of using the material as moving set pieces, and the dancers dancing with it, the music layered over the top.  This then launched us into almost one and a half hours of utterly useless, circular conversation in languages.

It may seem strange, but the fact that the conversation circled around between both bilingual participants, and appointed translators was the least of our problems.  There was a real lack of parameters, decisiveness and an abundance of ideas and ego to go along with them.

Don’t get me wrong, we have quickly formed a pretty close group in just over a week (less for some).  But everyone has clear ideas about the project, about both the nature of the collaboration, and the physical manifestation of it, and these are not necessarily mutually compatible.

I won’t dwell on the specifics.

The Korean tendency to stay silent and back away from confrontation (to the point of totally ignoring certain people) was not necessarily helpful.  Also, the abundance of professional artists who are very used to either creating their own work, or being in charge on an ensemble, or not collaborating in such an intense cross-cultural context was not helpful.

I personally chose to disengage and support, rather than pushing my own agenda.  I don’t think that this was the best choice.  For some reason, everyone seems to look to me for decisive action.  I think this is because I started off as the only native English speaker in the project.  This initially gave everyone some kind of responsibility to make sure I understood what was going on.  Kind-of an English Verification Device.  I have found that it is usually up to me to ‘translate’ English conversations to the entire group.  Apparently nobody ever has any problem understanding my English, or my intentions.

The reason I bring this up is to say that often I find myself at the receiving end of confused stares, calls for clarification, and inevitably decision.  Tonight I chose not to engage.  Both out of respect for the directors of the project, and because there were already too many cooks.  Far too many cooks.

Also, I hate being a winker.  I know how to collaborate.  I have learned, through many different means, and over several years how to collaborate efficiently and effectively.  I even have experience doing this in multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary settings.  But I did not see it as my job to set up a safe, effective working environment, to set rules, to make things happen.

I am not saying that my inaction entirely contributed to the mostly hideous time everyone seemed to have.  But we did come down to 30 minutes left of rehearsal, with mostly nothing achieved, and others scrabbling to take charge.  Suddenly, the exquisite pressure that is such a catalyst for decisiveness and creativity manifested itself all at once.  There was a flurry of commands by many different people, in many different languages.  Some wanted to start form the very beginning with the fundamental concept of the piece.  Others wanted a purely mechanical solution.  Still others decided that they would just wait and hijack the performance as it happened.

Finally, Fonkam decided to simply explain the ideas that we dancers had come up with. There was silence.  I then asked the visual artists to do the same.  And then, the musicians.  I suggested that we start with these simple, strong ideas, which already exhibited synchronicity, and put them together in a performative context.

Somehow this single moment of clarity and silence prompted Soonho and CJ, the project directors to have a discussion, which resulted in a cohesive concept for the performance.  There was still a deferment to the group, which almost resulted in more discussion, but I very rudely declared that any strong idea was a good one, that I liked their concept, and that at this stage, we will have to be happy to run with it.

And so we will.

And now, my head hurts.

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