Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 64: identify (or draw) structure, part 4

#61-67: Identify and define for yourself (or draw) what you perceive the structures are in 4, 17, 19, 36, 39, 44, 60

The midway point of the week of drawing structure. This is the geometric version of a soft, slouchy costumes. The left side is the front, the right is the back. The background is pink for no reason.

I'm getting curious about what is to become all of these. Seven days of improvising with the structures?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 63: identify (or draw) structure, part 3

#61-67: Identify and define for yourself (or draw) what you perceive the structures are in 4, 17, 19, 36, 39, 44, 60

Day 19 seems like it was just yesterday. Remember? I watched Rugby on youtube for about 10 minutes. Here is the structure of my rugby experience:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 62: identify (or draw) structure, part 2

#61-67: Identify and define for yourself (or draw) what you perceive the structures are in 4, 17, 19, 36, 39, 44, 60

I am very much enjoying doing things that are not the things I do. If you know what I mean.

Perceived structure of Day 17:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 61: identify (or draw) structure, part 1

#61-67: Identify and define for yourself (or draw) what you perceive the structures are in 4, 17, 19, 36, 39, 44, 60

Drawing of perceived structure of Day 4

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 60: listen to music

#60 Listen to music without doing anything else

It's not that I never just sit and listen to music without doing anything else, but it is rare. Way back in my olden married days, I remember regularly sitting around with my brother-in-law, who lived with us, and just listening to The Mountain Goats or Wilco, maybe with a glass of whisky in hand. Who knows how often it actually happened, but I remember that fondly.

More recently, N spontaneously suggested we go hear a gospel singer who was playing at the Rite Spot that night. Quinn Deveaux did not turn out to be a gospel singer, but was excellent, and listening to him play guitar and sing something like blues while we had a glass of wine made for a near-perfect and surprising San Francisco night.

But mostly, music is the background soundtrack to working or walking around the city or hanging out with folks. Chores are more often accompanied by podcasts these days. Of course there is also the occasional bedroom improvisation or dance party where music plays an important role. But just sitting or lying and listening? Pretty rare.

Turns out listening to Sleater Kinney's new album while doing nothing else is a great way to start a Sunday morning. (Full disclosure: I did ice my neck while I listened). It's my third time listening, but the first time listening with full attention, which is, really, the attention it deserves. Sleater Kinney really isn't background music. I read once in an interview that Neko Case calls herself "the horn section", and that makes me wonder what Corin Tucker is. An ambulance siren? Almost every song bursts into the room and grabs you immediately, then suddenly drops you and leaves and it's gone. I appreciated again the overlapping vocal lines I have always loved in their music, and Janet Weiss' fierce uncompromising drumming, and all the sounds and textures they can make with 2 guitars, drumset, and their voices.

Plus also there was the permission to take the time to just sit and listen. I have to do this! The feeling of needing to get things done is relentless lately. This prompt snuck in some time to do nothing but listen to music disguised as a thing that needs to get done.

A great way to start a Sunday morning.

Day 59: evolving repetition

#59: Practice "evolving" repetition for 5 minutes

 This one feels organic and hypnotic. Hypnorganic?

Another practice I wouldn't mind revisiting. Perhaps not at midnight next time.

Side note: I came close to doing this at the music concourse at Golden Gate park. I was there for a Segway tour, of all things (which, side note to a side note, is an interesting way to find out where your weight is). I was early for the Segway thing, so I walked around, stood on the stage awhile, walked around through the benches and weird stubby trees, watched the birds, listened to people talk. It seemed like a great place to dance, but there were all of these PEOPLE people around. Normal people doing normal things. I got shy. This thing, this feeling of needing to be legitimized by a space or or an event or a group, is so strong. 

The entire time I was wandering around suppressing the urge to dance, there was this old guy, this maybe Chinese, maybe Filipino, maybe whatever old guy with a boombox dancing at the top of the steps. Dancing. His dance was just stepping from foot to foot, elbows swinging back, but he was going for it. When YMCA came on, he sang along. He did not require permission. Someone dropped some coins in his upturned hat. I, on the other hand, do most of my dancing lately in my bedroom. It's weird.

I started a couple of acting classes this week, and I'm put in mind of something one of the teachers asked. Did you put yourself in an acting class to be seen? Or did you put yourself in an acting class to hide? I am considering whether this is an interesting question to apply to art/performance making practices more generally, and mine more specifically.

Okay, enough side note. Here's evolving repetition:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 58: True Repetition

#58 Practice "true repetition" for 5 minutes

Put on Io by Dawn of Midi to help track the time and inspire repetition.

Try out a couple of movements and then settle quickly on this sequence:

Begin in turnout, feet just slightly apart, left foot slightly ahead of the right.
Sweep right found around on floor.
Send tailbone back, dragging right foot back through parallel to end behind left foot.
Turn out right leg.
Lift left heel and pivot left leg in to parallel while arcing out to the side then around to the front.
Place left heel down as arm arc finishes.
Turn out left leg to return to starting position.


As you repeat, think about how to talk about this. Try to stop thinking. Remember doing the same task with R during her 100 days. Note how it is different this time. Wonder if you should have been filming. Decide it doesn't matter. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Be reminded of running. Worry about everything you need to get done today. Just do the movement. Repeat.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 57: Go down a rabbit hole

#57 Go down a rabbit hole with something from (56)

If I keep going down rabbit holes, it may start to look like The Shining over here.

All art and no play makes Erin a dull girl.
All art and no play makes Erin a dull girl.
All art and no play makes Erin a dull girl.

Just kidding! Art is all about play lately.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 56: move it, write it, save it, or shed it

#56 Consider 53 & 55: move it, write it, save it, or shed it

I am not thinking about my neck. I am not anxious about my neck. I am not thinking about how I cross my legs a lot and whether that is affecting my neck. I am not crossing my legs. I am not my legs. I am not my neck. I am not anxious. I am not thinking.  I am not thinking about why I'm always trying to get things done. I am not always trying to get things done. I am not now, nor have I ever been trying to get things done. I am not getting things done. I am not done. I am not.I am not thinking about my looking through the non-protection of my new glasses at strangers at the street and forgetting that they can see me looking at them. I am not thinking about them looking at me looking at them. I am not thinking about how dependent I am on my computer especially considering that I am ostensibly a body based artist. I am not thinking about how I am dependent. I am not dependent. I am not thinking about my computer. I am not my computer. I am not thinking about whether I am a body based artist.  I am not thinking I am a body based artist. I am not thinking I'm an artist. I'm not thinking I'm a body.  I am not thinking about whether I am possibly trying to do too many daily practices. I am not possibly trying to do too many daily practices.  I am not thinking about doing daily practices. I am not doing too many daily practices. I am not doing. I am not thinking. I am not thinking or doing.

I am doing some shedding:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 55: Improvise from the list

Day 55: Improvise from 54 (make a list of stuff that is on your mind)

Day 54: Make a list of stuff that is on your mind

  1. I cross my legs A LOT. Is this affecting my neck?
  2. I'm afraid that everyone I like or love is going to leave the bay area because it is TOO EXPENSIVE
  4. Why am I always trying to get things done?
  5. When I wear my new glasses outside, I forget that they are not sunglasses, and I stare at people more blatantly than I otherwise would. I have looked more strangers on the street in the face/eyes with no ill effect.
  6. Possibly I am trying to do too many daily practices
  7. Lynda Barry's Syllabus
  8. I am very dependent on my computer for my artistic projects, considering that I am ostensibly a body-based artist.
  9. Anxiety about neck
  10. Doing a thing is totally different from thinking about a thing
  11. What would it mean to really not try to IMPROVE MYSELF?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 53: Play with movement you noticed

#53 Play with any movement you noticed from (52)

Hooray for notes!

On day 52, which you might think was yesterday, since today is day 53, but which was in fact Friday, I went to a cafe to observe movement for (about) an hour. Mostly to avoid seeming too creepy while I stared at people, I brought my notebook and jotted down notes about what I saw (see day 52). This morning, I recited and acted out those notes, thinking all the while of my friend N who's resolution for 2014 is to be sillier. I'm right there with you, N.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 52: observe movement

#52 Go to a cafe or taqueria and observe movement for 1 hour

At Borderlands, a.k.a. the cafe around the corner, a.k.a. the sci-fi cafe, a.k.a. my favorite cafe, a.k.a. the nerdiest cafe in San Francisco, from approximately 6:25-7:18pm, the following movements occurred:

Youngish guy pulls his hair up into a ponytail

Older guy digs into the front pocket of his sagging jeans. He turns away from the counter to walk away, then turns back and says something to the barrista

Young woman working at the cafe walks briskly and efficiently across the room to clear dishes from a table. Her narrow hips swish very slightly.

A guy carries something long and heavy in a custom bag. He has a bounce in his step, but his upper body is a little slumped and his chin is tilted slightly up.

Two women shift their things on the table top minutely to indicate making room as another woman approaches

Man opens door, quickly backs up and closes it again. Then, satisfied, re-opens the door and enters. Inside, he leans casually against the counter on one elbow. Later, two elbows on the counter and right knee popped.

Cafe worker guy crooks his elbow and points with inflated chest

Man sidesteps to sit in archair

Guy comes out of bathroom and subtly checks fly/belt

Owner makes 2 tentative thumbs ups

Cafe worker makes arm waving gestures as he recounts his failure to explain something properly

Owner takes a swooping step on his left foot to answer a question after he has started to leave

Guy sitting reading pulls at his sideburn with a thumb and 2 fingers

Counter leaning guy returns to counter, not leaning, but rubbing his lower back under his belt line, inside pants, pulling his shirt up a little in back in the process

Ponytail guy, seated, leans forward to scratch his ankle, and drops his head for a moment

Guy browses magazines, hands in pockets up to the knuckles and one foot in front with just heel touching the ground

Cafe worker guy moves mugs from a higher shelf to a lower shelf, 2 by 2.

Woman pulls scarf up over her face briefly, while listening

Man makes slight shoulder shimmy and repeated palms up gesture while talking

Woman walks with her arms by her sides, hands slightly flexed at the wrist

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 51: Meditate

#51 Meditate or sit and be simple/still for 30 minutes

I've had an on-again-off-again meditation practice for the last seven or so years. More off than on at some points, as I have a tendency to abandon it in the times when things get busy or difficult and when I probably need it the most. At the beginning of this year, on the suggestion of a Zen priest, I decided to take daily choice out of the equation. For the month of January, I am sitting 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Short, but regular. Seems to be working. I'll reassess in February.

So this was bonus meditation time. 30 more minutes of letting my mind wander away and then fetching it back again. I heard recently someone compare the ego to a very enthusiastic puppy. You don't want to kill the puppy, but you also don't want it running the show.

I'm enjoying the spaciousness built into the last few prompts, this chance to catch my breath.

Day 50: celebrate

#50 Celebrate 50 by cooking and eating with a friend or several. Make it a holiday.

Halfway! I celebrated by making soup and salad and enjoying it (along with a bottle of wine) with a beautiful and talented friend. Happy holiday!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 49: Revisit or burn

#49 Revisit all material if you are saving any of it. Or burn something.

Probably should have gone with burning.

I'm not saving any of the material in my body, but gosh, there is all of this documentation. I started from the beginning and so far have read and watched through day 15. That took awhile. The overall impression is that it is A LOT OF STUFF. For the most part I view all that stuff more kindly with a little distance. And I see why R, when she did her 100 days, started to wonder what was going to happen with all of the stuff. Where was it leading? Christy suggested the possibility of giving the whole pile to another artist to do with as they please. That has a certain appeal.

Day 49 was actually yesterday, but I'm going to extend it and continue to look back through stuff today. And I'm going to light a candle on my alter. Maybe I'll even burn something.

Day 46-48: three days of rabbit holes, third day

#48 (third day of rabbit holes)

UPDATE 1/18/14: Computer more or less fixed! Hooray! In celebration, I watched all of the footage of me tiptoeing around the studio. That was such a surprisingly fun task. Here are some of the moments I like:

Original Post:
My computer died. A nice young man at the Apple store tells me it's just the video card. It should be back by the weekend. For now, this means no video documentation is going to be posted.

Day 48 was a couple of days ago. I had an hour of studio time and flared up neck injury. I decided to play with the funny tiptoe walk that Parker did for about 15 seconds in our second improvisation on day 42. I walked around on my tiptoes for about 45 minutes, which ended up being a lot more fun than I thought it would. It felt a little silly. I felt freed from trying to be interesting - I'm just walking around on tiptoe after all - and yet, I felt a little theatrical at the same time. Strange characters started to emerge.

Video to come. I promise to edit it down from the full 45 minutes.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 46-48: three days of rabbit holes, second day

#47 (second day of rabbit holes)

Rabbit hole based on bed making in #41 "Repeat while cleaning".

I am choosing not to be embarrassed about the silliness of this. PLAY IS SERIOUS!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 46-48: three days of rabbit holes, first day

#46 - first of three days of rabbit holes

There is that definition of insanity as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. But on the flip side of that coin, you can't do the same thing and expect to have the same experience. I repeated the inkblot painting exercise (my apologies to Bruce Conner). What I had experienced the first time - a pleasantly engaged and open state, perhaps - this time was laced with frustration with my materials and distraction. I was experimenting with working on printed paper. I repurposed a page of "In Dance", which fittingly enough, was an interview with Christy about her piece This is the Girl. The folds that were already in the paper made the folding to copy ink over difficult, and the images I had scattered around the table from the paper were distracting). The process was still fairly enjoyable overall, and I like the product well enough. But this was a reminder about the way that expectations can diminish in the moment experience.

Distractions and frustrations and expectations aside, here's the thought I came away with:
The inkblot process marries choice and chance
The product of the inkblot process is a sort of a repository of moments

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 45: potential rabbit holes

#45 Locate events/moments for potential rabbit holes from (38-44)

I started reading / looking at / experiencing Lynda Barry's Syllabus yesterday. Inspiring stuff. It makes me want to switch to "by hand" documentation in a notebook, but I will persevere with what I have begun here...

From #40 
  • Falling, especially jumping-falling and turning-falling (starting around :30). 
  • Wiggly walking bit (around 3:21)and the jumpy wiggly bit after. 
  • Generally. the buoyancy of dancing in sneakers and the difference between shoes/no shoes
From #41
  • Arranging small objects
  • Billowing sheets
From #42
  • Parker's tiptoe walk from the 2nd improvisation (starting at :32)
  • Shifting bodies on the floor from the 2nd improvisation (1:54)
  • Traveling through space with someone in a crawl with a lot of resistance from the 3rd improvisation
From #43
  • I do not think it is wise to go into a rabbit hole with whiskey
From #44
  • Painting inkblots!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Day 44: Paint


Confronted with another not-my-medium task, I turned to theft. I've been entranced by Bruce Connor's inkblot drawing since I first saw them in an exhibit at SF MOMA in 2000.  I loved looking at them, and loved them even more when I read that they were meant to be meditative for both the maker and the viewer. I shamelessly lifted the idea. Call it an homage. The process, even for a totally unskilled artist like me, was indeed meditative. Plus it saved me from trying to paint something figurative.

Day 42: Involve someone

#42: Involve someone or something else in an improvisation, a repeat of an earlier one or a brand new one.

The video footage of this prompt starts with two of us walking away from the camera and into the studio space. The sight of TWO of us walking into the space brought a smile immediately to my face. I think there is a reason that I'm not a solo artist. I suspect that my best - or better anyway - creative self emerges in working with other people (provided that I've done some solo contemplation and prep work in advance).

Parker was my special guest. We did a version of some of the earlier prompts, improvising for 10 minutes with each of three senses (sight, hearing, touch). We chose which sense we'd work with individually for each round, and didn't tell each other, but it became apparent pretty quickly. We went through all three rounds with a small pause, but no discussion, between each. Afterwards, we talked about it a bit. Later, when we talked again, we agreed that it would have felt more complete if we had done a 4th round in which we incorporated all 3 of the senses that we had activated in the first 3 rounds.

Round 1
Erin: sight
Parker: touch

Sight can be a tricky sense to work with. It's at once primary and overwhelming. On the one hand, you could just open your eyes and receive. On the other, there is too much to respond to and it can be hard to focus. Once Parker was in my field of vision, I looked at him, and sometimes this led to being influenced by his movement, and sometimes it was just fascination with his ear or the texture of his pants. We ended up standing close and making very direct eye contact at one point. A nice moment in an improvisation in which it often it felt like we, or the senses we were working with were at odds.

Parker started with touch because it was the sense he was most comfortable improvising with. Makes sense for a movement improvisation. We're used to feeling our weight in the floor, points of contact with other people, tracking the kinesthetic sense of our bodies. When we talked afterwards, he mentioned it taking a little while to drop into this first round and let go of worrying whether he was doing the prompt right, whether he understood what I meant be sense of touch (as if I knew), etc.

Round 2
Erin: hearing
Parker: sight

Nothing stays the same.

I found the hearing prompt so rich the first time I did it, in the very same studio where we were improvising today. And this time it was different. There was less ambient sound. Or maybe I was less attuned to it. I found that I was expecting to drop into the same kind of experience I had before, but unsurprisingly, that didn't happen. This improvisation became less about hearing and responding and more about noticing the sounds I created while I was dancing: the squeak of skin dragging on marley, the boom of a hollow box, the familiar sounds of feet on the floor.

We didn't discuss this one in particular much after, but in the video, I notice Parker using a similar tactic to one that I found in the sight improvisation: responding to the movement of the other person. It looks a little more spatially and compositionally crafted, I think because of that.

Round 3
Erin: touch
Parker: hearing

We both found this one the most interesting to do. Parker thought touch and hearing were complimentary. We ended up in a lot of contact. Towards the end, there was a moment where we were pushing along the floor, and we talked about how it was oddly satisfying. I think it had to do with the amount of physical resistance we gave each other.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 43: Whiskey with a friend

#43 Have a whiskey with a friend

This one is out of order. #42 requires involving another person in an improvisation, and that didn't come together so I skipped ahead.

This prompt is how I know that Christy tailored 100 days for me. I had an old fashioned on New Years Day with friends who were passing through town. We talked and laughed and ate and ran down the street with our arms flailing.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Day 41: Repeat 40 while cleaning

#41 Repeat (40) while cooking or cleaning

I had a hard time getting into this one while I was doing it, but it did result in a tidier room, and it was fun to cut together a little video from the footage.

Day 40: "function" and "expression"

#40 Improvise "function" and "expression" to your song(s)

I didn't know if I would find a good place to dance at Green Gulch. The public spaces are often in use, and I didn't want to be intrusive (a good impulse as it turns out that musical instruments are not allowed, so dancing is probably not encouraged either). I settled on the deck outside the yurt, which I had forgotten about at first. It's at the far end of things, so relatively private, and had nice echoes of Anna Halprin's dance deck to inspire me. It was perfect (aside from some splinters). There was a breeze, a creek flowing past, and the sounds of eucalyptus pods thudding down on the the deck periodically to punctuate my dancing.

The prompt itself was a bit of a puzzle. I wanted to ask clarifying questions, but that's not really part of this process. I interpreted "function" as a sort of straightforward, direct interpretation of the songs, and "expression" as capturing more of the general emotional feeling. I liked the "expression" versions much better, both in the doing and the re-watching. I didn't have a good way to play music, and it didn't seem suitable anyway, so I just ran the songs through again and again in my head as I danced.

It was wonderful to dance in that environment. I was inspired to follow this prompt up with revisiting the improvisation with sense of hearing, and then a walking meditation. I hope some of that will stay with me in the midst of city life.

Day 39: Write a song

#39 Write a song.

I was away at a zen retreat for a few days, but managed to do a few prompts while I was there. I'm posting them after the fact. Those who are following along closely will notice that day 39 is the same prompt as day 38. Another song!

I am, in general, a fan of repeating exercises or tasks or prompts, with no change to the instruction. When I was given the opportunity to do some artistic exploration and experimentation through the Sandbox Series at ODC, one of the most fruitful exercises was having the dancers create phrases from a piece of text, then having them do that exact same task three more times in a row.

Here is the fruit of my second foray into songwriting:


When the days get too short
And your life is so long
And your sitting alone in the dark
Sing the Solstice Song
to yourself
It's a solstice song

It's the longest night of the year
The day flew right by
And I don't want to hear it
I know the light's coming back
Tell me do you think that dawn's gonna crack
before i do

The Solstice Song
Sing yourself a solstice song