This coming Saturday I'm writing in a project called Long Relay that Adrian Heathfield and I have set up for the Serpentine Gallery in London as part of their Experiment Marathon.
Long Relay is a kind of real-time call-and-response writing project conducted over the internet in which an initial text (written by me and frequently updated online as I write) is then re-worked, re-written or entirely re-invented by the next writer, and whose work in-turn in re-written by the next and so on, continuously over a 24 hour period. I start writing at 1pm Saturday 13th October and the project closes at the same time on Sunday 14th with a final piece by Adrian. In between (and working three hour shifts) are Tom McCarthy, Deborah Levy, Mike Harrison and Fiona Templeton (plus two more in final process of confirmation!). You'll be able to follow the whole project, live on the internet as well as being able to access the individual parts/chapters as they are completed. I'll publish the URL here as soon as I have it.
I'm looking forward to the project and nervous about it in a way, although, it being a live thing and something I want to approach very much as live there's nothing I can really do to prepare. I plan to sit down with no plan and simply see where I go. If things work out I will have one thing to guide or inspire me me - a question provided by Olafur Eliasson whose Pavilion with architect Kjetil Thorsen is the physical base for Experiment Marathon.
It's great to be joined in Long Relay by Tom McCarthy who I've met just a couple of times and whose Remainder I liked a lot and wrote about here. As well as Fiona Templeton whose You - The City was a huge inspiration when I saw it maybe 20 years ago, I'm also really happy to have writers whose contributions to Barabra Campbell's ongoing 1001 Nights Cast have been so great. Long Relay definitely wouldn't have been in my mind as a concept without the inspiring introduction to live writing, and text as call and response that Barbara's project has been. I'll be writing again for 1001 in a month or so.
More details on Experiment Marathon which also features work and presentations by Marina Abramović; Simon Baron-Cohen; John Brockman; Peter Cook; Sophie Fiennes; Armand Leroi; Gustav Metzger; Steven Pinker; Pedro Reyes; Matthew Ritchie; Israel Rosenfield; Tomas Saraceno; Angela Sirigu; Andreas Slominski; Luc Steels; and Lewis Wolpert, at the link above.
And finally if anyone happens to be in London for Frieze my video show One Hundred and Three People is still running at Sketch until 3 November. More details here.
OK. Better late than never. The Long Relay 24 hour serial writing project can be followed continuously online from 1pm Uk time on Sat 13th to 1pm UK time on Sun 14th at this site. Don't go there before tomorrow lunchtime as its still rather under construction!
Timetable for the writers is below. Looking forward to it. Big thanks to Ben and Eva at Serpentine for helping to pull the whole thing together this last ten days.
Saturday 13 October
13.00-16.00: Tim Etchells in Bergen, Norway
16.00-19.00: Tom McCarthy in London
19.00-22.00: Deborah Levy in London
Sunday 14 October
22.00 (Sat)-01.00: M. John Harrison in London
01.00-04.00: Shelley Jackson in New York
04.00-07.00: Fiona Templeton in New York
07.00-10.00: Simon Bayly in London
10.00-13.00: Adrian Heathfield in London
"a story that didn't go back or forward but went in."
Slowly processing Saturday's Long Relay internet writing event (described here), though I think it may take some time to untangle in my head. I was really pleased with the rich mix and inventiveness of the work, and with the strange drift of the text through the 24 hours.
One thing I liked very much, was the sense of fiction more or less blossoming (not quite the right word) as different writers turned their attention in different directions. Like Tom's intensive magnification of the first part of the story, or Deborah's conjuring up a fragment of plot about the girl, who'd been more or less 'undeveloped' prior to that. It reminded me of that old Phillip K. Dick (?) /paranoid idea of a world in which nothing exists unless you decide to go look at it; that some mysterious 'they' are busy constructing building bits of the world in time for you to go see them.. An idea that crops up explicitly in Peter Weir's The Truman Show. I somehow had a similar feeling watching the original text expand, contract and transform through the long hours.
What I liked most though was the liveness, the unfolding of it all. There was something very beautiful watching the document change each time the page reloaded as different writers were working. Shame it wasn't changing keystroke by keystroke as we had originally hoped, but the jumps - a sentence here, a few words there, the occasional paragraph here - were always great to see; incomplete moves, signs of another person working on the text, a person starting to move things around. Also a strong sense at times of the text as a living thing; growing, shifting as an object on the screen.
Connected to this, in watching from long distance as other people worked on the project in the stuttering real-time of its updates, there was always for me a sense of working-out, guessing or anticipating which way they were headed. These were moments of 'oh I see where she is going' or 'I get it, I see what this is going to be' - predictions that were sometimes right, sometimes not. I guess in that sense the project succeeded for me - in showing writing as a process, as an unfolding set of decisions. I loved the sense of something materialising (a view, a take on things), and of seeing someone else (via their emerging take on it) slowly made manifest. A kind of dramaturgical staging of sensibility. I'm still struck by the act of Tom slowly adding his initial notes, annotating/commenting on my text, flagging things he'd use, things he'd want to get rid of - musing to himself about it, how it might work, or what it all might want to be. It reminded me a lot of notes I've written to myself whilst working on things. And I also remember watching mesmerised as Shelley was working; pasting in new paragraphs from previous versions of the text and then slowly scalpeling into them, shifting the words, adding things and taking away to make something new. There was something really sculptural about that.. And the results were beautiful.
Perhaps most frustrating to me was the feeling of the fiction in the end trapped in itself, in its own exoskeleton or in its own initial footprint, a feeling of growing confinement, an inability (somehow) in the system or game of it to make new space, to expand, to breathe or walk in some other direction. Tom's focus on the start, Mike's story - a very smart and delicate shifting the timeframe and looking back on a transformed version of the supposed incidents, or Deborah's shift to the female character - were all useful attempts to do this, as was Adrian's great final move of writing the 'protagonist' as a ghost. Shelley, Simon and Fiona, in their inventive and assertive foldings back on the writing and on its process, also opened the text of course, finding new things in its tangled tracks and traces. There is perhaps a limit to the amount of energy in the system though. As if the serial/relay calls essentially for an integrity of relation; for a certain level of continuity. And as though the time frame in the project, of both individual and collective duration, is maybe too small for it to travel to a radically different place without threatening total disconnection. Even knowing this though, (wanting my cake and wanting to eat it too) I could have taken more change somehow, or more space and more air, and would be interested to find a structure that encouraged this.
I'm certainly left curious about what the project might be like with a different balance or emphasis in the rules. And I'm wondering now if starting from a complete narrative by me was such a smart idea. Perhaps something more open or skeletal might have been better, or something that (somehow) more invited difference by way of response. I'm not sure for the moment what this would mean - but I'm guessing that Adrian and I will go back around the project several times in discussions now, trying to figure what the next move or incarnation of it might be.
Heading to TQW (Vienna) tomorrow for this Dialogues series put together by Adrian Heathfield and I. It runs Thur. 22nd – Sat. 24th Nov.
The Dialogues series.. is the continuation of their intensive analysis of the ambivalent tension between creativity and critical analysis. In Dialogues they explore the importance of the lecture performance for knowledge production in performance art. Paradigmatically, they not only present two lecture performances, but in a ten-hour marathon they also create direct encounters between artists, thinkers and curators, which is at the same time intended to be serious and playful, organised yet uncontrolled. Variants of public discourse are rehearsed around art and performance, with games and rules of relationships being explored on the basis of the most penetrating and productive questions. Dialogues produces the emotions of a live encounter within the boundaries of experience and thought.
Or something like that.
There will be a lecture/performance from Adrian and I called In So Many Words, and a lecture from Matthew Goulish and Lin Hixson of Goat Island, titled Every House Has a Door. Most exciting perhaps will be Saturday's epic discussion event The Frequently Asked for which Adrian and I are joined by: Jonathan Burrows, Matthew Goulish, Lin Hixson, Janez Janša, Joe Kelleher, Bojana Kunst, Alastair MacLennan, La Ribot, Boyan Manchev, William Pope.L, Goran Sergej Pristaš, Alan Read, Irit Rogoff and Rebecca Schneider as well as by Hugo Glendinning (on the video cameras).
What has performance got to do with survival? What place do feelings have in art? Sixteen frequently asked experts from performance and other branches pose frequently asked questions on contemporary art. The spectrum of these questions includes the experimental and metaphysical, the practical and the hypothetical, the mundane and the absurd. The total playing time of The Frequently Asked is ten hours – a marathon in the formation of dialogue pairs each followed by discussion. The audience can join in the discussion and come and go at any time. Etchells' and Heathfield’s play of questions makes good what Vilém Flusser already noted 20 years ago: “And no longer discourse but dialogue will structure future culture; that is, no longer ‘progress’ but mutual encounter.”
Full details here.Permalink
When I say that presence is a kind of a problem, I'm speaking also about the limitations of the body as object that is bound by physicality, by laws of physics, by time, etc. Rooted in performance, my photo works, which are basically events/encounters staged for the camera, will be limited by what an actual body in actual space can do. ‘What is possible’ to depict in an image will be limited/guided/affected by what is possible for a body to do or enact. Doubling as the image-maker and the protagonist, one of the obvious, concrete limitations is that I am unable to simultaneously occupy the space in front of the camera and behind it.
There is a very nice long interview here with Vlatka at the great blog This is That, including a lot of visuals of her work.
In that sense it's not even *about* gaming.. it's about worlds and how we make them, how we understand or creative narrative and narrative possibllity as readers. I mean - I'm really struck by the fact that if you say "In the next level of the game you will need a compass, a rope and a bottle of surgical alcohol" your mind is already starting to construct a narrative - already grasping for what might happen using those things, grasping for connections.
Two more blog reviews for The Broken World one here and one here, plus an interview I did about the book (quoted above) here at Subba-Cultcha.
My friend David Williams started blogging at Skywritings which for the moment is a collection of his occasional writings on and around performance. The sute includes programme-note pieces on recent Lone Twin performances and David's contributions titled Light and Listening for the Marathon Lexicon project which I co-curated with Adrian Heathfield and produced with Forced Entertainment.
Finally my opening address for last years Spill Symposium is included in a new publication/collection Live Art UK/LADA's Live Art Almanac. The Almanac also includes essays by Lyn Gardner, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Daniel Gosling, Leslie Hill and Rebecca Schneider amongst others. Copies from LADA's bookshop Unbound.
A Stitch in Time (2013)
From More or Less
the continuing drama of untied ends
Neons New (and one 'old') - BAC
Will Be (Frankfurt) 2012
Geukens & De Vil (Knokke)
From More or Less / You Know
Alphabet of Festivals