MEL-ADL … again … again … something like home …

A taxi driver from Punjab studying electronics with such a polite demeanor managed to persuade me that going all the way to the airport with him was not such a bad compromise than going to Southern Cross Station and getting the bus. Honestly, I was quite in the mood for swaying with whatever breeze happened by.

I have a sense of anxiety when I return to somewhere I used to live, that it will have changed, that I will have changed, and an accommodation between the two of us will be impossible. Still, to see North Terrace beneath from the usual exit row seat I occupy, I thought, “Home…”

And today, seeing my darling friends Gala, Lisa, Adam, and last night with Alison, and later today with Daniel… It’s like a short holiday, a reprieve from the madness of the past few weeks, the intense emotions, intellectualising, trying to make sense of what I wanted to do… and …

I’ll write about the showings later, when it’s settled somewhat, when I’ve looked at the footage, when it has calmed down.

So, Adelaide for a week. Festival time, shows to see, people here from Melbourne, Bonnie and Lina both, and something maybe growing in my life that has made these last couple of weeks like the sun breaking in mountains.

monadologie day 40, 41 & 42

Oh, so close now and … mmm nervousness and so on.

A peculiar week. I haven’t been too intent on planning for the showing, the idea all along was to continue playing with stuff up till today and then whatever we have, tomorrow we for once stick with. So in a way it is finished but in more ways oh very much not.

Unexpected not-happening. All the Hydrogen shell stuff, based on the absorption lines, didn’t work. I mean didn’t work in one of it’s possible manifestations as a method to shuffle us closer or further from our centre based on the size and shape of various orbital shells. To wonder what I’m talking about and sometimes pictures are good, look at these Hydrogen atom orbitals. So we thought, oh well, save that for me alone for when I return to the centre.

That is to say, will work in a different way, but it was surprising to see the complexity of the piece disturbed and broken by adding just a bit more.

Altogether, it has reached a level of complexity that is pointless to add to as there isn’t time to fold new things into it, though I do have a couple of clear ideas where it will go in the coming weeks after the showing, and need to work this out myself through my favourite rehearsal method, lying down and dozing.

Gideon came in to watch us do a run today. He won’t be here for the showings, and we were, well, ready to be seen, and certainly by the end knew what it’s going to feel like to perform in two days. I need to learn to breathe differently, but it’s far too late for anything else. And remember everything else as well as how to improvise, and the other way too.

I don’t want to get into an analysis of what the work is viz. what I imagined it could be yet, though it now has the feeling I always get around here, a bit of emptiness at what could have been. It has to, at some time collapse from all the myriad possibilities down into the one thing it will be seen as, and watching it on video, I do enjoy, like endless rain in sheets beating the surface of puddles.


monadologie day 37 & 38 & 39

This is the running order of the work. Or … it describes certain possibilities that if I’m clever enough could unfold in the weeks after the showings into something else. Yes, the phrase names are stupid. No, my notes do make sense to me, when I can read them. Yes, I have quite unnatural levels of nervousness and anxiety about this piece that I am so far unsuccessful in convincing myself is in fact excitement.

I spent Friday afternoon with Chris at the centre on what I was supposing, despite my utter fascination, was not going to make it into the piece. Well, how wrong was I? More on that later.

We were in Napier St again on Saturday, and ripped through most stuff and are vaguely coherent up to the end of phrase 37. Friday we went through the middle section that I decided for sundry reasons needed to be fast. Mostly this was because the movement is quite large and gross, and resists attempts to create fine detail like in the early stuff, and can just not be approached in the same way as those early phrases.

Rather than being a improvisation than once rendered lends itself to further unfolding, the middle section is more of a direct representation of the improvisation itself we did in the VR Theatre.

I have retired the word ‘thrash’ from contemporary dance lexicon. It’s boring after so many years that anything vigorous and slightly uncontrolled gets saddled with such a mediocre word. In response, I say, ‘thesaurus’.

I’m really too tired to type and every second word has mistakes in it so I think I’ll just go to bed and start again tomorrow.



Frances would like to invite you to a showing of the development of monadologie.

“In so far as the concatenation of their perceptions is due to the principle of memory alone, men act like the lower animals, resembling the empirical physicians, whose methods are those of mere practice without theory… For instance, when we expect that there will be daylight to-morrow, we do so empirically, because it has always so happened until now. It is only the astronomer who thinks it on rational grounds.”

— G.W. Leibniz – La Monadologie 1714

monadologie has been:

choreographed and danced by Bonnie Paskas, Frances d’Ath, Lina Limosani
an ANAT/Arts Victoria Arts Innovation Residency (AIR)
at Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
and Maximised by Chunky Move

important things:

when: Friday 22nd February, Saturday 23rd February
what time: 7:30pm
where: Napier St Theatre, cnr Napier and Church Sts, South Melbourne

what else: blogging at and and dance stuff at

contact me: frances at or 0419 586 227

Please RSVP by email or SMS

monadologie day 36

Feeling rather stunned after today. Bonnie and I worked out a couple of reiterative sequences that unfold from from the beginning and end of the group of phrases and respectively refer back towards earlier phrases and forward towards later phrases. They also occur with greater frequency at the beginning and end so cause a pile-up of repetitions that causes a rather grueling mental exertion just to remember what comes next, not even what we do with what comes next. And by strange chance, they cross over in the middle, so we can do either the ascending or descending sequences.

Much confusion and anxiety.

Which is to say, we tried to run it all today. 41 phrases unfold to nearly double that and in an instant we have almost half an hour of something that more-or-less is what it will be in another week. I realised that these unfolded phrases could serve as a basis for another set of series that operate on them which we never got to, and then thought about equations, and how through a process of eliminating, swapping around, balancing, it’s possible to make it more simple, which gave me the ghost of a sense of something further away, where pockets of emptiness would appear just from these eliminations.

I suggested this to Bonnie and immediately declared it’s something I’ll work on on my own in the final weeks of the residency.

We still have about a week of useful play time left. Lina returns tomorrow and I hope is not too horrified by what we have done. It’s all lurching into production time now, thinking about more than just making dance, and having to divide my attention elsewhere.

It’s become an extremely intense piece, something I’d imagined, after all my visual aesthetic for this was inspired by black metal and doom … ok … photographs of Sunn0))) playing live. I think also my turbulent personal life has seeped into it too. I wonder if when astrophysicists are having a bad time, they write angry and emotional equations?

monadologie – self-referentiality

Just because I’ve continually forgotten to do this…

I’m blogging the entire project and residency at Science is the New Black Metal … (I wonder who came up with that name?). It’s the same entries as here, just cross-posting, but thought you might like to know…


monadologie day 30 – 33, 34 & 35

So, has been an eventful week of much sleeplessness and then some sleep. And then some more sleeplessness.

And now another week.

Personal hysteria aside, (and dissociation, haha), last week was the hardest so far in the process. This wasn’t because Lina is away, though the dynamic in the studio of two verbose coffee drinkers trying to remove ourselves from catatonia was … mmm … amusing. Things nonetheless have been coming together.

This week, after lying in bed all weekend reading Matter, (Oh, yes, is good and gnashing of teeth and wailing that I’ll finish it in the next couple of days, provided the sleeping pills don’t banish me first), was physically gruesome. We finished learning all the phrases, 41 of them, some fifteen minutes of movement that leaves us in a rather exhausted trance. Physically it’s not very aerobic in intensity, but it’s certainly something to endure.

Last week I started thinking about series, and out of nowhere said, “Fibonacci sequence, that is, 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34…”. On the weekend, after talking with Chris who said, “ft =a0ft-2 + a1ft-1 + a2ft+1 + a3ft+2“. I thought about that for the weekend and on Sunday, decided, “n = n + n + n-1 + n-2“, more or less the same thing, really. Except mine makes sense only to me.

I was interested in a sequential recurrence of phrases that had some kind of pre-determined die-off, that is to say, rather than a single step iteration 1st, 2nd, 3rd … nth, each n that was a significant number in a sequence would refer back to a certain number of earlier steps with each successive n losing the last of the previous steps referred to. Or in our case, playing with the Fibonacci numbers, (which incidentally, while occurring in the natural world in abundance don’t seem to figure in astrophysics. Bummer.) to cause recurrent cycles of the 41 phrases.

Or to make sense of it, with my formula, each phrase that corresponds to a Fibonacci number repeats itself and then the phrases corresponding to the previous two Fibonacci numbers. Confused? Only because it’s me explaining it.

Additionally (haha, yes, additionally), we’ve tied in the less-than-1-second unfoldings, the re-improvisings to the reiterations of phrases and also somehow including a bunch of text on one of them. We tried it today and got hopelessly lost and anxious and who knows what would come next and seems like we’re caught in an endless loop of one phrase, and then we got it kind of working. The original 14 phrases, some 3 or 4 minutes with all this unfolding becomes 11 minutes. It’s quite creepy to do and has a … it’s hard to tell if we’re far too close to what we’re doing to see what it really is, but seems to be rather intense to watch.

No, I’m not finished. We did realise yesterday that all this together pretty much constitutes the piece some of you will see in two weeks, but there’s a couple more steps yet.

The original idea, I’m still working with Chris on was a correlation between the various series of Hydrogen absorption sequences and the phrases. Variously this would cause certain of the later phrases under certain conditions to collapse back to one of the first five or six phrases. This could work quite well with the Fibonacci sequence which decreases in frequency as the number becomes larger, as the Hydrogen series tend to occur further up the spectrum. Anyway, fun for me, pain for others.

11 minutes, 30 seconds of video (below) above … un0)))joy…


monadologie day 28 & 29

This week has mostly involved me being in the studio and not so much time at the Centre. It was partially because of the weird rehearsal schedule, partially tiredness, and quite a bit of needing to make some sense of what in three weeks we will be doing and someone will be watching.

Yesterday afternoon, Cobie came in and we played with the 3-D camera set-up. Lots of very particular things involved to make the eyes, which it is quite easy to reveal are remarkably lazy in accepting what they see, not do what they do when there is just too much variation between what one eye and the other see and then everything goes, “owwwww!!!! pain!!!!”.

Today with Chris we got to see the results, about 10 seconds of footage in the 3-D Theatre of Bonnie. All quite successful, really. No, you can’t see what she really looks like in 3-D, but this is what the screen looks like without the 3-D glasses.


monadologie day 27

Just me alone … and Sunn 0))) … unjoy.

I wasn’t sure how useful me being in a studio on my own would be, despite a short list of schedule that I knew would take hours to make sense from. I surprise myself. Quite fun and I feel like a despotic scientist doing something resembling computational demonology.

This was a carryover from yesterday and the slight grimness I felt from watching Bonnie and I go through the whole thing and what was missing, why was it hollow like a zombie corpse? So I decided, having no one but myself for entertainment (poor choice of companionship, no?) I’d try and not induce crying by trying to do too much.

(Also pretended I was Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker making her solo Once.)

Things to do: Watch video from start. Try to get through the first ten phrases. The word for today is deliberateness. Find all the detail that has got mushed into choreography, decide – in a purely dictatorial fashion – what is going on, what operations are happening and on what body parts. Make pages of notes (feels like work, but in fact merely a precursor to). Do it a few times and video (haha, really, yes, actually dance a bit, Frances, on your own, with deliberateness).

Bonnie and I decided the first block of five phrases were more-or-less ok, though in watching the video on my own with no real time I have to finish by, I found some stuff that just makes it more … coherent or something. It’s just being accurate about what we’re doing, even when that happens to be a decision we make for ourselves every time we do it. The aim then was to find this level of sophistication in the next lot.

Partially I don’t know the phrases too well, a residue from how we assembled them, with me watching the video and describing it, and partially it was how we learnt them, with a slipping of focus into just choreography, empty steps without the blood that interested me in the first place.

So now there are pages of descriptions, a vague and general plan on how to do this for the other fifty or sixty phrases, and the first ten as a block I feel ok-ish about. It only took four hours or so. (Oh but Bonnie and Lina have to know what I know next.)

It looks as though I’m watching myself while video-ing, like staring in the mirror. I’m actually watching a bunch of maps of the Large Magellanic Cloud and mapping all my body-parts, in a strict order to them. It’s kinda fun, that there’s a progression of movement I go through, but also these maps, what I choose to pay attention to, which ones materialise, all changes what I do on a quite subtle level. I think this is getting close to evolving movement that isn’t a corpse or shell, that has the pressure inside of something living.

Tomorrow I do this with Bonnie, and Friday then (I don’t like to predict how my life will be even that far into the future) I get to do another ten on my own. It’s like learning to dance, or something.

Anyway, a little piece of me dancing for three and a half minutes.

(And big surprise, I found a print of the first page of Leibniz’s manuscript of monadologie, so beautiful to look at and read.)

leibniz – monadologie 1714
leibniz – monadologie 1714


monadologie day 25 & 26

The twenty-fifth day being that wherein herd displays of nationalistic supremacy and mob imbecility occur across a country still insultingly and willfully ignorant and in denial of its own past and present. Well, we had a nice day in spite of that, anyway.

Today, with just me and Bonnie for the impending future, and rather yawny and feeling the absence in the studio, and worried how we could keep the same intensity without Lina saying, ‘Again … again … again…’. Somehow we got to the end and it was ok-ish.

I’m really troubled about making what I describe in relation to the other kinds of performance I make, as pure dance. I can’t quite provide a description of what that means, but to say perhaps that when I am making performance I need plenty of time to myself for research, and with this, whatever we do in the studio is the research might explain somewhat the dichotomy.

I’m also having audience anxiety. Normally I don’t care so much, of course there is a … I guess I want to ensure that irrespective of whether they like it or not they can’t deny it’s well-crafted, but as to anything else, I’m distinctly don’t care, but for this one … I actually see so little dance and care for it, the exact technique of choreographing, quite deeply, that I’m … That is to say, I know we can do some fast stuff and spectacle and people will go ‘wow!’, but what is more likely to be seen is an intense, grueling monster that is loud and relentless.

Bonnie and I did a couple of runs once filled up on coffee and banana (a distinctly unique taste combination, that does neither wondrous consumable any favours), and soft leg warmers for hurting knees, and filmed with excellent YouTube quality laptop webcam, and watched, and I became grim…

So, we talked, then watched again a couple of times (all these weeks for maybe 8 minutes, I am the slowest maker of movement in the universe), and talked some more and suddenly it became clear. I can’t say too much more just yet, it depends on what happens when we do what we decided in fact working. It could be rather doom-laden.

So here is a short clip of us wobbling small joints around, mapping various body-parts onto data visualisations (for me a wall plug), and concentrating on the deliberation in this. I think it would look rather nice with a stack of amps and a smoke machine. We are Sunn0)))’s back-up dancers.