Friday, July 17, 2009

Inna Pilipenko

ph: Natalya Arefieva

Vignettes #32

Working for the customer service of a large online retail store is just monotonous most of the time. You rarely get unusual requests or weird mishaps. But there is the occasional amusing story.

One customer mail I got was an interesting case. Just by reading his query you could sense that he was very upset. He said he had received a very disturbing package from our company, which he had never had ordered. He had opened it in his wife's presence, and ever since has trouble at home. His wife refused to believe him that he had not placed the order himself.

Luckily he could give me the order number. It was true that he had not placed the order himself. Someone else had done so, paid for it (80 bucks!) and had sent it to his address as a gift. The content of the present was: an artificial vagina (also known under many other names like pocket pussy, sailor's darling, etc)!

Since it's not against the law to send someone a gift I only wrote back that it indeed was not an order he had placed, but for security reasons it was not possible for me to reveal who the donor was.

I wonder whether his wife believed him after seeing my response...

Dioni Tabbers

Indeterminacy 5

One evening I was walking along Hollywood
Boulevard, nothing much to
do. I stopped and
looked in the window of a stationery
shop. A mechanized pen
was suspended in space in such a
way that, as a mechanized roll of paper
passed by it, the pen went
through the motions of the same
penmanship exercises I had learned
as a child in the third grade.
Centrally placed in the
window was an advertisement explaining
the mechanical reasons for the
perfection of the operation of
the suspended mechanical pen.
I was fascinated,
for everything was going wrong.
The pen was
tearing the paper to shreds and
splattering ink all over the window
and on the advertisement,
nevertheless, remained legible.

- John Cage

Catherine McNeil

ph: Patrick Demarchelier

The Ape Man (1943)

Conducting weird scientific experiments a crazed scientist has managed to transform himself into a hairy, stooped-over ape-man and now needs to turn himself back into a human being.

Pretty bad low-budget horror fair, the cast lost at sea for most of the time.

Who's That Girl?

New stuff

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Polina Barbasova

Vignettes # 31

I take the bus to work every day, and there's always this older distinguished gentleman who sits behind me each time and also gets off at the same stop as I do.

Recently another same-age gentleman met up with him and sat himself to him on the bench. They started up a conversation (unfortunately in perfect Bavarian dialect which is untranslatable) about the virtues of going to the pub in the evening with a meal and some pints and meeting friends.

Soon the discussion aroused on what the perfect amount of pints was, my regular fellow stating that 3 was grand, but then the other said another 1-2 pints are just as fine and makes you feel even better.

I could literally feel my gentleman deliberating, obviously agreeing halfways, but not willing to give up his previous statement. It took a while till he exclaimed: "But in the morning 3 pints are the limit!" His friend agreed immediately and there was general consent not to drink more than 3 pints before noontime...

Milagros Schmoll

ph: Keiron O'Connor

A Song a Day

I'm a great fan of John Cage, you can hardly underestimate his influence on today's music. Besides posting his Indeterminacy texts on my blog I just started reading the biography Roaring Silence by David Revill. Compared to other prominent artists I've always felt that Cage was a genuinely good and honest person, somehow you could easily have been friends with.

I'm not going to go into any theorizing about his work, but I want to emphasize that his work is - despite being so experimental - it is also quite entertaining. Cage said one problem for him was that - both his musicians and his audience - took his work either too seriously or not serious enough. I think there's no problem to keep the balance.

Both clips are performances of Water music. The first one is performed by the artist himself, 1960 on a TV show! The second is a more recent performance by Brown New Music's Clara Schuhmacher & Whit Bernard at the Grant Recital Hall, Brown University.

Imme Visser

ph: Michel Zoeter

Uwe Johnson: Jahrestage 2

As I may have mentioned before I'm planning to read several monumental novels that I so far have avoided. This includes Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) and Robert Musil's Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities), but I started out with Uwe Johnson's 4-volume novel Jahrestage (Anniversaries). I just finished volume 2.

You'll find an English description of this massive novel here.

As far as I know there has been only a partial translation published in English titled Anniversaries.

The novel's main storyline depicts an exact year of Gesine Cresspahl's life with her daughter in New York City in 1968 going day by day like in a diary. However, the novel goes back to tell the story of Gesine's childhood and youth in wartime Germany and in the Sovjet zone of Germany after the war. The second volume ends with the end of WWII in the flashbacks.

Although massive the novel is actually an easy read since the daily chapters are fairly short. Johnson goes in quite minute detail retelling the German history, while the 'present day' story very much relies on everyday observations of New York and the reports of each day in the New York Times. In this way you get an kaleidoscope image of 20th century history, somehow exemplified on the fates of a few protagonists, but never losing touch with the actual historic context.

Ruby Aldridge

Indeterminacy 49

I went to a concert upstairs in
Town Hall. The
composer whose works were being
performed had provided program
notes. One of
these notes was to the effect
that there is too much pain
in the world.
After the concert I was
walking along with the composer
and he was telling me
how the performances had not been
quite up to snuff.
So I said,
“Well, I
enjoyed the music,
but I didn’t agree with that
program note about there being
too much pain in the world.”
He said, “What?
Don’t you
think there’s enough?” I
said, “I think
there’s just the right amount.”

- John Cage

Kate Moss irrégulière

Berlin Express (1948)

A multinational group of train passengers become involved in a post-World War II Nazi assassination plot.

Remarkable for some Noir photography and having been shot in the actual German post-war ruins, but otherwise the plot is quite awkward and implausible.

Who's That Girl?

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wakeema Hollis

Indeterminacy 20

Well, since Darmstadt, I’ve written two pieces. One
in the course of a fifteen-minute TV program in
Cologne. The other is Music Walk, written during two
hours in Stockholm. Neither piece uses chance
operations. The indeterminacy in the case of Music
Walk is such that I cannot predict at all what will
happen until it is performed. Chance operations are
not necessary when the actions that are made are
unknowing. Music Walk consists of nine sheets of
paper having points and one without any. A smaller
transparent plastic rectangle having five widely
spaced parallel lines is placed over this in any
position, bringing some of the points out of
potentiality into activity. The lines are ambiguous,
referring to five different categories of sound in
any order. Additional small plastic squares are
provided having five non-parallel lines, which may
or may not be used to make further determinations
regarding the nature of the sounds to be produced.
Playing positions are several: at the
keyboard, at the back of the piano, at a radio.
One moves at any time from one to another
of these positions changing thereby the
reference of the points to the parallel lines.

- John Cage

Margaryta Senchylo

Mesa of Lost Women (1953)

A mad scientist is creating giant spiders and dwarves in his lab on Zarpa Mesa in Mexico.

Yep, it's very bad, very weird and absolutely ridiculous, but quite entertainingly so.

Tanya Pilyukova

Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel.

Although the script takes a lot of liberties compared to the novel, it does wonderfully capture the spirit of the book, and the casting is perfect. By the way, Aldous Huxley was co-author of the script. A true Hollywood classic.

Who's That Girl?

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Hye Rim Park

ph: Richard Bush

Vignettes #30

Our very first performance as Lyssa humana was a multi-media show we titled Dada For Now. The program was basically the screening of several Dada and Surrealist film classics interrupted by musical performances by our group.

One of these performances was just Walter and me, no instruments, just making vocal sounds and using microphones to amplify. I was inspired by Meredith Monk, when I came up with the idea, but the result sounded more like what Mike Patton does (more professionally, of course) nowadays. So it was making weird vocal soundscapes starting slowly and a bit like a duet and then getting ever more exciting and wild and even ecstatic. It was to culminate into a wild disturbing orgasm of sound till Walter pulled out a gun, aimed into the audience and shot a blank straight at them.

This worked out very well at our first performance in Regensburg. But several months later we had a performance booked in Stuttgart, and things turned out differently. While rehearsing Walter said he'd rather use a distortion module for his microphone, but I insisted that we only use our mouths as instruments, that was a bit of my concept - no fake enhancements besides the electric amplification.

Our performance in Stuttgart was completely sold out, we had a full house, and when it was our turn, we got up on stage and slowly started with our action. That is - I did, Walter was behind me, but no sounds from him. I looked back and saw that he was fiddling with his distorter that obviously didn't want to work. I signaled him to get going, but he didn't produce a single sound.

So I had to do the whole thing all by myself which was completely out of the original concept. I worked myself into the crescendo and awaited the cathartic shot from Walter's gun, but nothing came. I looked behind me - he was not on the stage anymore!

There I stood, hundreds of people staring at me, I'm making wild sounds with my mouth, and then I saw Walter - sitting in the front row of the audience!!! In disbelief I signaled him again to shoot that darn gun. But he sat there - and slowly shook his head...

I somehow managed to bring the whole thing to an unspectacular end, I got a few amused chuckles from the audience, and then I was off the stage, and the next movie was started.

For years I had recurring dreams of being embarrassingly exposed to an unassuming audience. And I never trusted Walter again.

(the photo is from a different performance)

Adriana Cernanova

Indeterminacy 159

When David Tudor, Merce Cunningham, Carolyn
and Earle Brown, and I arrived in
Brussels a year or so ago for programs
at the World’s Fair, we
found out that Earle Brown’s Indices was
not going to be played since the
orchestra found it too difficult.
So, putting
two and two together, we
proposed that Merce Cunningham and Carolyn
Brown dance solos and duets
from Merce Cunningham’s Springweather and
People (which is his title for
Earle Brown’s Indices) and that
David Tudor play the piano
transcription as accompaniment.
With great difficulty,
arrangements were made to
realize this proposal.
At the last minute the
authorities agreed.
However, just before the
performance, the Pope died
and everything was canceled.

- John Cage

Dei Auruskeviciute