Michael & Gala: One Final Evolutionary Note

A couple of days ago we were looking at Michael’s website and saw a new video in the progression of One Final Evolutionary Note. Michael and Gala dancing. Two of my favourite people and I love seeing them dance together. Yesterday I chatted with both of them, (and had dinner with Michael’s family, doing the Grande Tour of Europe), so with little else to say, other than I’ve watched it a few times already.


Icarus Tree Suspension Shoot

One of the three suspensions for which my climbing skills have been useful, the cliff-top tree above the gouged out bay where waves hit tide-line caves like the sound of distant artillery. Tree-climbing though isn’t one of my skills. It feels treacherous and slippery, especially with the apparently un-Majorca-like rain we’ve had every day but the first.

So I make myself useful with clambering around the boughs, covering Dasniya with clay, variously organising things like a good assistant on set, and taking what photos I can. I particularly liked the silhouetted trees and Dasniya forward of the grey clouds, and also found something funny – in a Dutch Masters or some such style – of the composition of Bernard and Eric talking together, with Antonie on obscured on camera and Dasniya grappling with the tree.

Later I enjoyed myself setting up anchors around a tree and then hanging over the side above still-turbulent waves and killingly sharp rocks.


Last Day, & at Caló des Moro

The last day of Majorca, (written when I’m back in Berlin). More rain. It’s highly improbable to have so many days of greyness and rain in a row, and still more so a storm of the size we had, of which the effects linger. We went to Cala Mondragó (I think), to shoot Dasniya coming out of the ocean. Arriving, the beach was destroyed, detritus strewn up well past the sand, and where once was a beach was now a pile of seaweed and other decomposing things.

Back to Caló des Moro then, the beautiful cove we were in on the first day. Post-storm, the beach is also missing, which perhaps is the natural state, as the limestone is cut by the tides all the way to the end of the bay, well above where the sand was, suggesting any sandiness is of the ‘dumped by dredgers’ kind.

Setting up the anchor was a lot quicker today, with all the changes in how it would be shot – these were basically test shoots, as there are plans to return later in the year to get them when the ocean has returned to its pristine clarity. I spent most of the afternoon squatting far above the water, enjoying the view, while Dasniya and François the diver slogged through the cold water. It was a little like Parsifal: most of a day of setting up for 20 minutes of action.

The evening was eating the remainders in the fridge – Majorcan cheese is delectable, and the wine also – the usual night viewing of the day’s rushes, accompanied by a friend of Bernard who is a real estater in Santanyí. The last night in that beautiful studio bedroom, and then 5am darkness arising for the homeward-bound leg.


Night Pool Shoot

We have a pool also, which I have yet to dip more than fingers in. Dasniya has been swimming around in it most nights, with François the scuba-diving cameraman. Last night the blanketing grey cleared around an almost-full moon, which lit the ocean as bright as a false dawn. Sufficient lack of light to make it possible to do long exposures without them burning out. Dasniya thinks it looks like kitch-y postcards. Rather impressed with new camera discoveries, I made a 60 second exposure pointing directly up, kind of my Hubble Deep Field attempt. Expecting blackness, I was well-pleased to see a sprinkling of stars. Some chroma noise to remove (and one minute arc of motion blur I have no idea how to compensate), and also not an especially interesting part of the sky, just to one side of the Big Dipper, but still, my first attempt as astrophotography.

Abjection Rehearsal 8

I’d planned to return to rehearsing a lot earlier than this, but laziness, other work, got in the way. So, return. A different studio this time. I’m still in Theaterhaus Mitte, which means a meandering bike ride there and back, attempting on the latter to find streets and ways I haven’t passed before; surprisingly easy.

Today and tomorrow are easy rehearsals, five hours of working methodically through ideas that have come up in the previous month, no bashing out and going crazy when my body is not used to it. And I haven’t been cycling either, the past month, so I’m pretty slovenly and slothful. Four hours then, of bits of yoga, Klein, Pilates, working on movement, watching it snow, generally just keeping going somehow for those hours; the last hour reserved for something new.

I saw Isabelle perform Der Bau last week (and Das Helmi’s Magnet der Affen), a very intense solo, and from that seem to have found a way to think about the rope work in abjection. After the last rehearsal, I was starting to think that the piece was going to become something very different from what i’d been working on (working on for far too long), but now perhaps I think I know what’s going on again.

And other excitement for abjection and me, Valquire – whom I choreographed for a music video he was filming last year – and I are going to see what might become of those ten minutes or so of movement which has been the subject of rehearsals ’til now. In the meantime, back there tomorrow for more gentleness and lack of terror (should probably listen to a Black Sabbath ballad or something).


jute disintegration video

There were three — no, four cameras around me on Sunday. One video camera which I forgot to push ‘record’ on, my own beloved LX3 (and having seen the LX7 seriously thinking of upgrading because I can’t yet afford a GX1), a Canon EOS 600D (I think), and the quite sublime Panasonic G5 with the power zoom lens, which I ended up using the most, and shot the video on. There was 15 minutes or so of video on my camera, but I didn’t want to deal with either rendering it to fit in with the G5 video, or doing any colour grading to get it to match, so from a bit over an hour of footage of a 3 hour 15 minute performance installation, I spent two days reducing it to 20 minutes.

I almost want to write separately about the camera, but shall avoid as I have enough to write and do already, though … It does suffer from the usual low-light problems, which could be somewhat ameliorated with a faster lens, though for video this wasn’t an issue. Slightly more irritating is that in quiet spaces, the stereo microphones pick up even light breathing if you’re using the viewfinder — and the lack of an external mic jack, especially as there is a TASCAM to play with is peinlich.

So, twenty minutes of rope anarchy, unshibari, proto-baroque, H.P. Lawrence recitaling, sleeping bags, and other things of the jute disintegration, attempt 2 kind.

A rope was needed

Having turned my black clothes white yesterday, today was a treat visit to a rope wholesaler in Schöneberg. It seems after all this time in Berlin schlepping around the stuff, we’d completely missed Günther Lusche Hanf- und Drahtseile. Much rope? Yes!

The distinct piggy horsey barn-y whiff of hemp arrived with the opening of the door, and there lay all variations on rope one could desire. 3- and 4mm hemp up to 30mm or larger. Devices for hanging, wire rope plaited, with or without rings, and about a third the price of Jute rope from Japan, though nonetheless having a nice enough feeling to know it will work well. And 300kg breaking strain for the 6mm stuff makes for happiness.

We drew up a list of quite a lot. As with Parsifal, a lot isn’t so much once it’s binding a body, and even less when it’s in a messy style. But with four or five people needing to be tied, it’s self-evident that the number of metres approaches the thousand mark. Which would be a very nice amount to play with.

After a short discussion with the wholesaler (and much salivating over the contents of the catalogue – circular ropes! Imagine tying with a Moebius rope…), we visited the workshop – mainly I wanted to look around the ropewalk, though a tour of the warehouse with, and the discovery of pre-oiled rope for use by chimney sweeps was a delight (as was the naked ladies on the wall calendar).

I could easily imagine making use of all the ropes here and coming back for more. It’s a little gluttonous, no?

Quite damaged ropes

This is a story about a ladder. One which we borrow on occasion, when we need to hang the rings in the Alte Kantine from the beams we once drilled through to. We borrow this ladder from the sculpture studio in the centre of Uferhallen, behind the café. One day, a couple of weeks ago, while walking it to the Kantine, we were told of someone coming shortly to Berlin who was planning to suspend 60 or more people for a film in the biggest hall.

We’d been meaning since then to ask again for the person’s name, as the only Swiss photographer with that name seemed to not have made a history of hanging up large masses of people in dirty machine halls. And as we’ve been slowly working on mass suspensions in such places, it seemed unseemly for such a thing to happen in Uferhallen without us. Sunday though, the ladder was required once more.

Dasniya returned with ladder and with someone I thought might be a extra for our rehearsal.

Actually, he was that Swiss photographer, and the ladder had neatly intervened to arrange our meeting precisely as we began our own rope installation. We talked briefly, and perhaps twice during the rehearsal (once amidst ‘responsible/unhelpful 30 second shibari’) he returned to watch.

Some talking, some phone calls made to Dasniya. Leading to this afternoon in Matthias’ studio with a score of people here to film Michel Comte’s Madame Butterfly – The little girl from Nagasaki, and some buckets of clay. Massive sculptures and friezes fill the space, into which dancers shall be dressed in gauze kimonos, tied (yes, in our beloved anarchic unshibari), and suspended.

An attempt was made on Dasniya after lunch, using our dear Parsifal ropes, and the vats of clay, draped across a work-block and more than smothered in the slippery sticky goo. Embedded in handfuls rubbed and squeezed into the ropes until hands, feet, torso were rough, unshaped clumps. The ropes have never been so surprised, and for the first time no amount of delicacy could extract them – if they could even be found in the benthic geology – and so scissors were resorted to.

Which is to say, Dasniya and I have found ourselves working with Michel and a large group on his film for the next week or so. So much for going to Paris, and all because of a ladder.

(I have photos and even video, but perhaps I am becoming responsible, and shall confer before uploading.)

temperance at cinedans

On a whim in May, because it landed in my maiming lists inbox, I decided to send temperance to Cinedans, promptly forgetting all about it in the whirl between then and a month or so ago. Then I find out it’s been accepted into the Festival and promptly forget to blog about it. So: temperance will be at the 2011 Cinedans Festival in Amsterdam from December 1st-4th. I’ll be in Brussels then, and shall try to find one of those €14.50 tickets from there to (the other) there, for a day/weekend of dance film, visiting Lewis if he’s in town, and canals.