Photographs are by Heidrun Löhr unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Apple Intermediate Codec

Today I have finished logging and capturing footage, or perhaps it should be called timeage or something as digital tape is not really measured in feet which relates to the length of film - the 'real' kind. I video, log, capture, edit and produce something serious like this not more than every few years. It's not quite like learning it all again, but can be frustrating as things change.

Now the new Final Cut, iMovie and Quicktime are using a codec called Apple Intermediate Code, which doesn't appear to be backwards compatible with the versions of Final Cut and Quicktime I am using on the ppc machine. So, I've captured HD with the new codec and DVCam with the old... (for those who don't understand this, it doesn't matter - more of a rant than anything else).

I have a few options to make it possible to continue to edit after leaving the country. The first is to get some new RAM for this poor old MacBook to make it compatible with Final Cut Express (which will cost me about $450 all up); struggle through using iMovie (I've already lost all the useful timecodes for the HD anyway); or purchase a new MacBook Pro (now under $2000 or cheaper still if I get it in the UK on a good AUD day).

In any case, I need to make a decision to go with something or other so I can at least move forward over the next few days. Lots to do. Leaving the country in less than a week now. Managed to get superglue on my fingers, but thankfully not on anything else at the same time.

In the meantime, it is interval at the concert at Fremantle Arts Centre. I decided to take up the free ticket tonight as it's a good program of 20th Century classical music. As a former musician I appreciate it and it also gives me a little time out of my own head.

Hire car goes back tomorrow. I'll be back to the laptop on the train gig...

Tonight - final shoot

I decided we needed some longer shots, so took some from the road outside during the late afternoon and into the evening. It looked enticing, so I jumped in...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Support Material Structure

During our first few days here we filled twelve boxes on a large sheet of paper with things we thought we needed to demonstrate or explain through the support material. This initially helped us decide what we needed to do (in such a short time). It also helped me make the sort of plans that constantly change. It is still difficult to know how far things might go, given they are things we haven't necessarily done before (and certainly not as a group).

Time was our main constraint which meant we could not wallow in the fun stuff - getting mucky in doing and thinking. We had to make quick decisions and constantly (and almost literally) be ahead of ourselves. The sun only goes down once a day after all and we had decided to mostly work with the facades of the buildings in the evenings (when the projections are visible). It's been rather fast and furious - though we did get into the good habit of stopping for a meal at sunset (a beautiful time of day to be eating outdoors overlooking the docks).

Today I have gone back to the sheet of paper with the twelve boxes and done some thinking about all the things people have said over the past few weeks and have come up with a little bit more of a plan (I inch closer to the goal).

The below list is something I hope you might comment on from your own perspective. For those who were here, please let me know if there are holes or things you think should be included (or not).

  1. Voiceover of how I came to be working with archival materials. A 'story' illustrated by slides of prior works.
  2. Voiceover - Introduction to the PNG Work. Text to be transcribed and edited from my explanation of the project to Mia Halton. Unsure about what visual material I should use here.
  3. Example of process. Simon has suggested I put the following together to demonstrate the process. This may work with a voiceover which includes point 4. a) Hayley Bahr being introduced to the 'stuck' score; b) Adelina enacting a more complex score in Jo Harrison's studio (with projections); c) Both Adelina and Hayley enacting scores within a projection environment on the grass.
  4. Voiceover explanation of what improvisation is in this context and why it is important.
  5. Example of a group score highlighting how we can use these methods to work with historic buildings and film footage. Video footage from both Thursday and Saturday nights will be used. There are a few strong examples. This footage could also be combined with point 6.
  6. Where to from here - an explanation of how the research will proceed and why a research process is necessary.
As you can see, this is possible a more linear structure than I had first imagined. It almost feels like a very short documentary. I'm not sure though if it's going to be possible to show that much in five minutes. I'd be happy to have your opinion on this and if you think it's too long, what I could cut out or curtail.

Run Rabbit Run

Photograph of 'running rabbit' in Simon's hand.

For those of you who haven't been here at the Fremantle Arts Centre over the past ten days you may be wondering what rabbits have to do with anything.

Look closely at the photograph.

Yes, that is a rabbit running on the palm of Simon's hand.

But why?

You may recall my intention not to use the PNG material in order to focus the support material on the development of methodology rather than the creation of a work? Well, the running bunny was once a thirty-second third-year student film - and a relatively random addition to the project.

I wasn't completely convinced by the material at first. I like that it was simple and clear, however, I was worried we wouldn't be able to link it content-wise to the performance and architecture aspects of the exploration.

After racking my brain between Sunday and Tuesday last week I realised our running rabbit was stuck. Going nowhere. Stuck inside a frame. Camera travels, rabbit does not. Generally speaking.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), in Canberra (December) Adelina, Dan and I had been working with 'stuck' as a 'score'. We found that placing ourselves in an every-day 'pose' or position and then negotiating how to more ourselves 'stuck' led not to the person doing the score looking stuck but instead having an increased human-ness. 

The detail of movements became more apparent as did the architecture of the building we were doing the research. The senses of both the 'performer' and 'witness' became heightened.

Reintroducing the 'stuck' score into the process worked on a number of levels. While I still think the rabbit material remains fairly arbitrary (and not very meaningful), when we worked with some local artists (dancers, performers and visual artists) here at the Arts Centre we were able to integrate everyone into the process and the architectural/projection environments as well as conceptually link their improvisations through working with this score.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Hi Adelina and Dan

I've been thinking about the sorts of clothes that would be useful for you to bring. It's okay if you don't have (or can't bring) a lot of stuff, but easier and also more comfortable for you in some ways to work in clothes you already know. Be prepared to change clothes regularly as we work through things.

Please bring a range things that might be:

  • 'every day';
  • slightly formal or 'heightened';
  • a range of colours and tones;
  • dresses/skirts/shirts/t-shirts/trousers/jeans/pants; and/or
  • accessories such as scarves if you are comfortable wearing such things.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The following information is from the Bureau of meteorology:

This is the forecast for Perth and Fremantle is likely to be a little cooler, so it's not going to be as hot as it has been the past few weeks. Although, the seven-day forecast is never very accurate.

Don't hold your breath on the 'possible shower' - we've seen 0.2mm of rain since mid-November!

Friday: Partly cloudy.          Min 24 Max 39
Saturday: Cloudy periods.   Min 21 Max 30
Sunday: Sunny.                    Min 18 Max 30
Monday: Mostly sunny.        Min 18 Max 29
Tuesday: Possible shower.   Min 17 Max 25
Wednesday: Partly cloudy.   Min 15 Max 24

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fremantle Arts Centre

Here you see the front of the FAC building (distorted by the macro on my point and click). Behind the archways is a space that performers could inhabit or come out from. It will be possible to project footage from around about where I am standing taking the photo, so the images might hit the sides of the columns which could be interesting. I will try it out next week when I have projectors on site.
Here's some history
Here are the plans:
I'm currently in a small room on the ground floor labelled 7. This is a sort of office that we will also be using as a store room and editing studio. There are plenty of other bits of the building to play in. We may need to do some work on carpet, just so you know. The wing I am in was, until January, a museum so everything is in transition regarding fixtures and fittings etc.

'Demonstration Work' Score

The interconnection between improvised dance and film/sound installation can be explored though enacting and reflecting on scores. Scoring is a practical technique that can be used to conceptually combine a range of diverse elements. The following example is the score used to create the 'Demonstration Work'. Please note the audience is not included as an element in this exploration. It is also a very brief description of something far more complex (it's come straight out of the latest grant application).
Film Environment (distant past) – project a 16mm film loop (archival footage of George Street, Sydney) onto a wall or screen; film this on digital camera and feed it back through a data projector. The video operator changes the aperture, focus etc to distort the image and create 'movement'.
Audio Environment (present) – create a feedback loop using four speakers and two lapel mics worn by the dancer. Control the sound through use of digital audio filters. The dancer also controls the feedback through spatial positioning. Add a very recent recording of George Street to the mix.
Dancer Instructions (memory or lived past) – remember walking down George Street (which is a place that holds significance for the dancer) and respond physically using change in tension and direction. Be aware you are 'playing' the film and audio environments.

5 minutes of support material

Just want to make sure we all understand that this time at Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC) will be focussed on creating five-minutes of 'support material'. Please feel free to feed in or feed back. I think you will all be able to post, but let me know if you have any difficulties.

Timeline for support material creation

  • March 1 to 28 - Michelle in residence
  • March 12 to 21 - with Adelina and Daniel (more about this configuration later)
  • Unfortunately Heidrun is unable to make it this time as her sister is ill in Germany.
Main questions that will help us complete this task:
  • What is (audiovisual) support material - what parameters do we have to work in?
  • How can the value and processes of a work at research stage be communicated?
  • How can we create examples that do not indicate a necessary aesthetic (which could warp expectations)?
  • How can we frame it to look 'professional', rather than looking like a bunch of people messing around in a studio? This has been a concern of the STRUT committee. 
Documentation I have so far that may be useful:

A 'demonstration work' that Dan and I created out of a research process as part of the Butcher/Lane lab in Sydney, November 2009. This example would need to be contextualised through titling, voiceover etc.
Not the Sound Bite! - an example of working with archival materials (audio element). This documentation would also need to be contextualised as last time I used it the feedback was that the panel didn't understand that there was archival material involved which indicates they may have been watching the dvd with the sound down!
Remixing the Aftermath - an example of working in an installation environment with performance installation group Shagging Julie (2001-2004 - Michelle Outram, Teik Kim Pok, Gavin Sladen & Luke Waterlow). This was early 2003, so it's getting a bit old now. Useful for the feel though. These stills have been captured from video by Peter Oldham - I haven't had the chance yet to scan in Heidrun's beautiful photos!

Better than a Blow-Up Doll - another example of an installation environment created by Shagging Julie (in a caravan for an audience of six at a time). I don't have good video of this one unfortunately. Also quite old (2004).
Untitled - this example is from an untitled solo work from 2002. The video version (by Sam James) shows my interaction with the audience. While I entertain them by playing the recorder, they make a fruit salad literally on me. You can see that Harley Stumm has most kindly dumped a banana peel on my head. I think it was either him or Steve from Erth who poured the custard on my head. In any case it was the middle of July and COLD!

Ideas for creating support material
I would be happy if we were able to capture four different examples of work or working. Each could be edited to around one minute. They could then be used as a collection or with other of the above examples depending on the context of the submission.
  1. Example of process: It would be possible to document me explaining a 'score' to a performer or group. The exploration of this score could then be captured along with some of the review/feedback after the session.
  2. Example of working with audience: Show short clips of the audience entering the environment; the audience and performers in 'conversation'; exploration of the environment; private conversation etc.
  3. Example of a performer working with a projector/projection: Demonstrates a range of possibilities and gives a concrete example of something many people find difficult to imagine.
  4. Example of group work - choreography: A description of and documentation from a complex iteration of a 'spiral' score. (Don't worry if you don't know what this means yet.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My own questions and thoughts coming back at me thick and fast

I basically want to keep you all posted about where my head is at. It is about trying to communicate better about the project. The below thoughts have been influenced by a couple of articles I have just read by Susan A. Crane - a historian thinking about history and memory.
1. Politics of group memory. Enforcing [normalising] of a dominant view without debate. Relocation of the experience of historical thought in the individual.

I feel that these groups are often driven by the 'stronger' thoughts of a dominant individual. Someone is often in denial of the construction of a sense of centrality - group memory. That person may not see it as political as they may not see it at all. Lack of reflexivity by default or desire. I don't know which.

2. Why history? Why look at the past? Because it can not be known? Because it creates our experience of the present? Because the small pictures can make a big picture? I don't know whether these thoughts are interesting or banal.

I have just started capturing a time-lapse film of the wall and the tree. We are getting toward late afternoon now. School is out, yet there is much more of the 'day' left. I wonder what the time lapse will do to the dappled light? And what has it to do with this?

I'm interested in commemoration. Actually, I'm interested in what it means rather than practicing it. My panel at the conference [in London] has something to do with commemoration and I feel I need to get to grips with how my work relates to this. My work seems to have encompass many of these memory/history concepts - thinking about the booth now, but also relating to my current work. These concepts are layers of possibility rather formations of dichotomy. I do not pit collective memory against historic memory, but rather encourage the analysis of one with the other - or at least try to create some sort of triggering effect. Why? Well, I suppose to to give others a moment of reflexivity, of reflection (which again relates back to the glass of the booth - the materiality of the installation object). To give others a point for reflection. And maybe they go home and talk and maybe that reflection snowballs into another collective memory. Or maybe it resides only within that person and within me. To be triggered by?...

Luca. Luca Giuliani. You were my reflective surface. I started thinking about the nature of reflection around that time. In a personal way. In that it helped me. As a person. As an artist. Now, thinking these thoughts, maybe there's more to it. Maybe I have always been working with reflection. Maybe this is the connection between the sunlight/glass structure and conversation. Transparency or reflection. Never opacity. The inside and outside. Creating a multitude of entry points. Do we see each other better through reflection? Or do we only see ourselves?

3. How can reflection be created with the PNG Work? What are the possibilities for use of mirrors? Where does looping or spiralling come into it? And conversation? Looping/spiralling makes the details and frame 'visible' through repetition and change. Transforming expectations. Transforming experience. Then letting go of meaning and 'the edges' to experience the kinaesthetic texture. To be touched.

4. Do you have letters from Margaret? Where is her voice? What did she think? Do I want to leave behind what I think? Will anyone ever want to read my thoughts? There are lots of them. Dozens of books. Hundreds of computer files. Some of those are already  lost. The time of my Fellowship. The time of reflection with Luca. Luca Giuliani. A small pang of loss. Those were prolific times, expansive times. A small pang. Small.

I suppose he is tied up in my experience of this project. Or the fictional him I barely even know any more. Three years ago seems like an eternity. Life has changed so many times since then.

Distortion. Feedback. Creation. Destruction.


5. Why Australia? Because I am Australian. It is a position I can speak from. Why PNG? PNG is the closest Australia has come to being the coloniser. To speak of colonisation with an Australian voice is to speak of PNG.

a) Why not go there? Because I want to see it from the position of collective memory and then question the nature of collective memory and how it is created.

b) Why go there? To experience the extreme foreignness in a place which is so close in so many ways - geographically, economically. Possibly not socially. I want to look at the distorted view and reveal the distortion. What does an experience in the 'present' do to collective memory of 'the past'?

6. It seems I need to go to Brisbane to interview the nuns who were there with Margaret. I need to speak with Kaye Lane and look at how the artifacts in the Sisters of Mercy Archive are contextualised. Brisbane is important. Also possibly the memories of Brisbane from my own childhood. Visiting All Hallows and the pictures of it. Of mum. More and more I realise this is about women. The experiences of women. Maybe that will change again. I see no problem having men involved on whatever level.
I was disappointed with Margaret's pictures. The obligatory humans standing in a line and smiling. Palm tree in the background. This is so typical of my family. Marking the occasion (not the palm tree). What occasions these are/were I don't know. It doesn't matter.

Why do I take photographs of buildings? Why not of people, except sometimes with a sense of portraiture. Perhaps my environment is more important to me than the people I am with who become relegated to fiction sometimes. Sometimes not. I don't take many photos anyway. I have some sort of fear or anxiety about creating yet more stuff to be sorted and managed.

[Actually, not taking photographs of people probably has more to do with preferring to allow people to keep changing in real life and in my memory. I find 'capturing' a moment tends to solidify it into something particular, with fewer options for renegotiation.]

The PNG Work at FAC

I am currently sitting at my desk in room 7 at Fremantle Arts Centre. I am here to create some support material - funded by STRUT Dance - in the hope I will soon be able to get my teeth into the research that is so necessary to create what will eventually be seen by the public.

This blog is currently for my collaborators. I hope it will be a mode I can relatively easily keep you all informed about everything.