monadologie days 1, 2, & 3

I am at Swinburne. I have an office. It’s half way to the first floor (or second if you’re counting that way). Out the window that doesn’t open but would like to are trees and old red brick buildings. It feels Academic. Below me is a café with good coffee and bad food (I think I saw an organic shop near the train station (That would be Glenferrie if you would care to stalk me)). Above me are two floors of people whose names start with Dr and Prof, and who say things like, “Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics … cool!”. I feel remarkable stupid.

And, I have a new laptop for the duration, a special little MacBook that seems to like omitting letters, I think I’m not used to the keyboard yet. And! Playtime with fun stuff. And! 1Gb ethernet line.

So, amidst currently chatting with Daniel who is in KL airport on an 13 hour stopover, and Gala who is in Adelaide, I’m trying to make some kind of sense of all this, both intellectually and practically. The practicalities for the duration of the residency are doing class each day, rehearsing with Bonnie and Luke, and being at the Centre. Which means 12 hour days are likely, and working out a schedule that allows for minimal amounts of pain is going to be very important.

I started with Bonnie yesterday in Napier St, lots of memories of playing in the upstairs studio, and a slow process of remembering the tools of improvisation. I have I think an feeling of what the piece could be. Usually a work has a colour, an ambience, something I grope my way towards, and this is … well, yeah, black.

Yesterday and today I was reading Modeling Formation of the Solar System, an introduction to the equations that describe ellipses, orbital elements, eccentricity, and on to 2- and 3- body problems. It’s nice to be thinking in this way, to have to make myself understand, and what I was saying to someone in Adelaide, for my brain to feel like it’s not cruising but is, like a muscle aching from exertion, experiencing pain.

This came about from one of the papers that grabbed my attention when I was doing some pre-residency research a few weeks ago. Dr Sarah Maddison’s Gap Formation in the Dust Layers of 3D Protoplanetary Disks. I suppose I can see a similarity in methodology in how such astrophysical modeling occurs, compared to how I consider assembling rules and so on in the formation of tasks or choreography. (Interesting how language has failed me lately, as if I no longer have the words to describe what I’m thinking). This in turn, at the limit of my understanding led to the above introductory modeling, and a bunch of questions.

What is: Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics? Shakura & Sunyaev Viscosity Parameter? Epstein drag regime? And so today to a late afternoon conversation with Dr Sarah Maddison on her work. She was very coherent in explaining these and other aspects of her research to me, and obviously really passionate about it too, and I’ve come away with several books that are going to keep me occupied for ideally years but probably can be thought of as rather lascivious summer reading.

So what else am I thinking of?

My reason for dancing was seeing the Frankfurt Ballet, and also too my reason for choreographing. My earliest works were simply derived from reading interviews with him, harvesting his references to collaborators, eating like a carnivore on any elaboration of processes, wallowing in all of this and trying to make something from that. As an aside, it’s an interesting approach to read a description of how a work was made and from these artifacts alone make a new piece.

When I was working with Gala and Bonnie on temperance last year I started thinking again about this approach to making what could be described as pure movement (in reality, I’ve found that the approaches to making anything from abstract movement to utter theatre are fundamentally the same, but for the moment I’m thinking of what is dance in a recognisable sense), and amidst references to Leibniz, the Age of Reason and other things, again went back to William Forsythe.

This time, it was a work I’ve never seen, but through descriptions of and imagining I have, like Roland Barthes’ Japan in Empire of Signs, a conjured memory of ALIE/N A(C)TION that is more real than the real thing. I think rather than explain my continued attraction to this work, reading Dana Caspersen’s piece on working with Bill does much better.

There is then multiple strands that are far from having commonality living here, how to make literal representations of research that exists on scales far outside those of human senses, the history of astronomy and science since the Age of Reason both as events within themselves and as manifestations of the insatiable human curiosity to know things for the sake of knowing, evolving a system of choreographing that is not shackled to steps and counts, then also perhaps a very abstract response to the research here that is so impenetrable, and …

The cycle of works of extermination, hell, pestilence all coming from Jean Baudrillard’s text Symbolic Exchange and Death is concerned specifically with the dehumanising of individuals, the diminishment of human rights. While I was making all the people i can remember sleeping with… it occurred to me that is it very easy to criticise existing norms, but much harder to imagine new ones, and then to live them. In being especially obtuse here, and also feeling as if in a void, one of the things that attracts me to science is this imagining of a world bigger than this, to go beyond what is already here, and perhaps in doing so to in a very real sense cause a new world to evolve.