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.

MEL-ADL … again

A couple of nights staying with my wonderful friend Bonnie, eating pancakes, drinking tea, long chats into the night … a bit of last-minute self-gratification in shopping, some waxing of legs and plucking of eyebrows, downloading of sunn0))) live in Caves Lechapelais, Paris, eating chocolate, reading astrophysics, thinking autumn has arrived and not wishing to leave my bed … yes, a bed, a room, doors to close if I choose, sleep I would lie in for if I didn’t think 830am was lazy, emails from my beautiful friend 方圆 Fang Yuan in Guangzhou (or Beijing), news from my darling Anna currently in Suisse and so much of this week has been thinking of you, and tonight…

Airports again.

To Adelaide for a couple of weeks to see my wonderful friends, peas in a pod (*_*).

Missing you all so much.

monadologie – week 2

A rather crazy five days for me, dramas with friends far away and then Lily, Bonnie’s sister coming into the project. Today then was another morning of working on improvisation systems out in the black box (now with grey floor) of the Temperance Hall in South Melbourne (where apparently you can’t drink inside…).

A question of is this process of generating movement dehumanising, does it create dancers who are just interchangeable blobs, or does it lend itself to some radical apprehension of self through movement? Personally, the more I think about this approach to both generating movement and improvising, the more I find in each concept, an endless unfolding brought about by considering what a body is doing when it’s in a particular modality.

We were doing a bunch of 9-point stuff today, which is both rather basic, in the sense of being an exersise or task that intensifies specific understanding of a body or parts of a body in space, and also fiendishly complex for exactly the same reasons. I came to think the term ‘point’ is slightly misleading in that it implies an infinitesimally small dot of only one dimension and as such does not engender a intuitive visualisation of it having a front, back, sides, top, and bottom. So I described it instead as a small box that you could approach with a limb from any path or direction and then with whatever surface of that limb describe one surface of this box. This immediately lends itself to the idea of, say, describing one side of the box while approaching it from another, creating much more complex paths.

Back in Temperance Hall then, and talking about yesterday when Bonnie came out to the Centre with me to be shown around and also to see the VR Theatre. She was really quite awestruck by some of the visualisations of galaxies colliding and 3-D maps of the large scale structure of the universe, and just … I think that’s what’s important for me in this, or really in all my work, to make people feel something and want to know more, and to have that kind of reaction when seeing the visualisations in very convincing 3-D after talking about all this stuff for the past few days was really satisfying.

The previous night I’d been restless with thoughts, trying to deal with concepts that are far beyond my ability to grasp … I was thinking it’s like when you’re really fit from dancing and then go for a run for the first time in ages, and all the muscles are really strong in a particular way, but in running coordination they are so unfamiliar … the next day is pain. This is mostly my brain these two weeks. So I was thinking about Bonnie coming to the centre, and really agonising over where to start everything and the large monsters of ideas that I couldn’t reconcile when I thought it might be rather fun to try mapping the 3-D visualisations onto our bodies while in the VR Theatre.

Watching the animations with Bonnie it was so obvious this was a good idea.

So after two weeks, things are coalescing into … something. There’s a number of … ideas, things, areas, vaguely defined concepts that could become something, and simultaneously an idea of what it could look like when we get into Temperance Hall in late-February.

Firstly there is the literal data mapping, how to get various groups and clumps of data that can be represented in various 2- and 3-dimensional forms onto the rather inaccurate and prone to infirmity sack of bones and goo that is a body. This entails for me at least an endless plummet through research where one three-letter acronym like, say, SPH (that’s Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics) leads all the way back to Kepler and 2- and 3- body problems. mmm … elliptical orbits and eccentricities. That is to say, fun holiday reading.

Then simultaneous with this is the incomprehensibility of these papers and the research here. At best trying to read a paper can be an aesthetic experience where the mathematical symbols are the equivalent of calligraphy and there’s some kind of beauty in the whorls of glyphs and surrounding white space. This led me, circuitously, back to Forsythe and how ALIE/N A(C)TION was assembled. I think here, the interest lies not simply in the mechanisms invoked, but rather the process as alluding to ways to think of how choreography might be generated.

Veering off from this was a couple of days spent re-reading Leibniz’s Monadologie (the – duh – eponymous name of this piece) and being quite stunned by the logical genius necessitated in attributing a mechanical (of some description) universe to a divine creator. Which, via stalking Chris on the internet caused me to remember he also is rather fond of the history and philosophy of science. So there is this third thread that somehow manages to make sense of this, which was I suppose the original conceptual starting point of this piece.

Through this I have rather masses to read on the history of constellations, their mythology, changing cartography, and … Cartography. I suppose the fourth thread that is entwined with the third and also the first simply because in very real terms what is done here is a mapping of the universe on myriad scales, from large structure stretching over billions of light years where there is an explicit temporal duration in the map, to almost humanly apprehensible scales in mapping the barely attained structures of distant solar systems.

Finally there is something of the human in this, sort of like the anthropic principle, that is to say the universe is here because we’re here to observe it to be here. This is both something of the wonder and awe present in looking up and trying to make sense of what we see in the night sky that over millennia has led to astrophysics as it is now, and also the people who work here, who despite their interests that are so far from the mundane as to appear close to witchcraft nonetheless are human.

And with this then is trying to make all this somehow human, something that exists within the realm of what it means to be a person and … I guess this is one of my concerns in all my work.

Yesterday Bonnie was sitting here with me and I played her a video from the Hinode Observatory Satellite showing chromospheric loops on the sun, and had sunn0))) playing It took the night to remember from Black 1 and photos of them in concert …

Kinda good, no?


One big sadness at leaving Melbourne is missing Sunn0))) and boris vibrating organs and viscera at the Hi-Fi Bar on May 9th. I’m really, really not happy. And now they are doing a special performance with bits of Goatsnake, Burial Chamber Trio, Khanate and Striborg. It’s a black night of DOOOOM!!!! (Last time I screamed. This time I cried.)

0))) with Striborg!!!!!


GREG ANDERSON (of Sunn 0))), Goatsnake, Burial Chamber Trio)
STEPHEN O’MALLEY (of Sunn 0))), KTL, Khanate, Gravetemple)
OREN AMBARCHI (of Touch records, Gravetemple, Burial Chamber Trio)
ATTILA CSIHAR (of Mayhem, Tormentor, Aborym, Gravetemple, Burial Chamber Trio)

Tuesday 8th May 2007
The Toff in Town

As you will know, US doom-drone behemoth SUNN 0))) will be performing a HUGE must-see show together with Japanese monsters BORIS at the Hi-fi Bar on Wednesday 9th May. However we are pleased to announce a Melbourne-only intimate ‘improv’ show that will include collaborations with members of black metal legends Mayhem and Striborg! This show will be completely different to the Hi-fi show and strictly limited to capacity at Melbourne’s newest venue The Toff in Town on Tuesday 8th May

This ritual will feature the first public appearance of Tasmania’s Sin Nanna aka STRIBORG, making a special & rare live collaboration with Attila Csihar, (legendary vocalist of Mayhem), Aussie avant-maverick Oren Ambarchi, and Greg Anderson & Stephen O’Malley of Sunn 0))). Blackened low-end psychedelics not for the faint hearted – a one-time event not to be missed!!!

Unearthly ritual with strictly limited capacity. You can pre-purchase tickets to avoid disappointment from The Toff in Town, Metropolis Bookstore, Polyester Records and the Corner Box Office – phone: 9427 9198 or on-line: Tickets on sale Thursday 26th April. Pre-sale tickets: + bf / on the door if available.

The Toff in Town
Level 2, Curtin House
252 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9639 8770

— Southern Lord Records

sunday morning avoiding-work blogging

More stuff I’ve read in the past two weeks for your amazement and occasional pleasure, though because everyone’s taste is different, no porn links. I do have a major grant application due tomorrow that I’ve been putting off since Friday when I posted off three other big applications, and since have felt a complete resistance to answering such questions as, “Why do you want to do it?” preferring instead to have my newly opened comments spammed by a Viagra-spewing, Norfolk-dwelling transvestite.

Because it will soon be in the old media, probably as a filler story at the end of the news, dressed up as some evidence of emerging property rights and consequently democracy in China, and because it’s been all over Chinese Blogistan for weeks now, and largely because Feng37 turns it all into a story about Guangzhou, here’s the 钉子户. That’s ‘nail house’ to you, as in the sticking-up nail that tears a hole in your nice clothes, or is the house that pesky proles should but won’t leave so the to-get-rich-is-glorious capitalists-with-communist-chinese-characteristics (I think that should be the other way around) can’t get on with getting rich.

The always exceptional China Digital Times 中国数字时代 looks at the extremely photogenic Chongqing nailhouse as a fomenter of citizen journalism. 在桥下流 says, “Speaking of which of which, gz got one too, on Longjin East”, and points to Global Voices Online for the definitive coverage of the Chongqing house. All this makes me anxious for Liwan, my favourite part of old Guangzhou that for years has been eaten away at by property barons and political corruption. Liwan doesn’t need Hong Kong cash to rebuild, especially when the south-of-the-border types think historic reconstruction means pulling everything down, filling in the harbour and selling it off to their government-friendly cronies.

A bit over a month till Sunn0))) and Boris play in Melbourne, and all I’m listening to is Southern Lord, so of course I downloaded Burial Chamber Trio live at the WORM in Rotterdam, and could see Emile there smiling with un-joy.

Nicholas Pritchard, blogging intelligently on performing arts in Sydney does a quite reasonable evisceration of a recent play he saw. He accuses the director of carrying the Plague of Realism, that reminded me of a remark in Realtime by SPILL festival director Robert Pacitti in London, equally applicable to Sydney or Melbourne. “The city likes to ‘big itself up’ as a wild theatre capital, but in reality it still exists within very safe territory. This is clearly evident in the current plethora of site-specific work being made by younger artists who seemingly lack any desire to present content.”

Is pornography free speech? This is an American, as in United States question, that is beholden to a very specific set of jurisprudence born of their constitution. Any country can engage in such a question, but freedom of speech refers strictly to the First Amendment. My reasons for making such a delineation comes from my recent or on-going brushes with civil rights (and linguistics) in regard to transsexuals, that are simultaneously presented as universally representative from within America, and accepted as such by those of us outside. There is a strong lack of appreciation that circumstances are very much dependent on your geographic location, and that even countries that nominally share similar values can in fact have a wildly different appreciation of the issues. Pornography, or how American cultural hegemony determined how we get off.

No Quarter has a huge post on Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and the diaspora leaving them spread across the globe. It’s a fascinating read, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, a concise introduction to their history, culture, religions, the political machinations that led to them being dispossessed in three acrimonious nations.

Tranny stuff!!! Cool!!! That’s why you come here anyway.

Harisu, everyone’s favourite Korean tranny is performing in Beijing. And Feng37 sent me a piece about Lili, not Chen Lili though, who was in this week’s oeeee supplement of 南方都市报. The difference between the media’s depiction of transsexuals in China and my own experience, compared to the often undisguised hostility that comes out of the American culture is … If someone gave me a research grant, I’d hang out in China for a few months just writing about this.

Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus. Yeah. it’s nice to know there’s a biological basis, but … the search for explanations in this way can easily impress the notion that this is an abnormality against which a particular type of physiology is measured. Whatever it means to be normal, there is far more difference between you and the person you are currently nearest to than between any spuriously assigned categories of human.

The world of teenage trannsexuals, the ones with no family support who become the gutter of humanity, and all that it entails is one I flirted around the edges of. Salon Magazine interviewed Chris Beam, the author of Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers, that I’ve mentioned before, and if you come here because this interests you, it’s really worth a read.

Another standard story with a nice picture about a transsexual, mainly a weekend filler piece that at least isn’t sensationalism, though is it really necessary to have pieces like this done every couple of months, it’s not like someone gets interviewed because they’re gay or married, but the transsexual thing is always presented as the defining characteristic of a person’s identity.

Sex!!! Or why the Age of Reason was a better time for smut and fornication than the early 21st century.

[(δU/δL) / (δU/δC) | Sp=0] ≤ w – [(δU/δr) / (δU/δC) | S = 0], or using calculus to assess whether prostitution is your best career choice.

That’s enough for one day. no?

sunn 0))) destroy asia … with Boris!!!!!

I screamed.

sunn 0))) upcoming axtions!!!

sunn 0))) will be doing our first shows of 2007 overseas. Below are the basic details and dates. Tix for the Australia and Japan dates WITH BORIS(!!!!!) are on sale now and selling fast!

March 18th – Bergen Cathedral, Bergen
(Lineup: Anderson, SOMA, Ambarchi, Csihar, Steve Moore,TOS, Lasse Marhaug)

(Lineup: Anderson, SOMA, Ambarchi, Csihar, TOS)

May 3 – Totally Huge New Music Festival, Perth
May 5 – The Columbian, Brisbane
May 6 – Factory Theatre, Sydney
May 9 – HiFi Bar, Melbourne
May 13 – Lots, Niigata, Niigata
May 16 – Quattro, Nagoya, Aichi
May 17 – Quattro, Shinsaibashi, Osaka
May 20 – Citta, Kawasaki, Kanagaw

— Southern Lord Records