Category Archives: conversations

Logistics in conversation…

 I have decided to drop the turmeric – 1. because this is fresh and exciting for me personally 2. I was already struggling with the idea that turmeric was ‘old’ – something I’d done before, 4. logistically its a nightmare with install time 5. it would be too much to do both:
– the daily ‘performances/activities/situation/task/workshop’ (can’t work out what to call them) – between 1-2 on all four days. Oliver  has agreed to film on fri, sat and sun. And I’ll doing audio recordings on all four days.
– i thought with the paper documentation I could either do a wall installation where the originals get pinned up so you can see them all- see if there is a rhythm/pattern that emerges, or if it deteriorates etc. I had a good squiz at some Fluxus things as well and its seems publications, programs and paper traces were pretty important and thats something possibly to consider. I thought I should do up a little program flyer anyway, but this wall installation could be structured a little like that as well ie day 1: …. day 2:…. etc. Alternatively I thought it would be cool to compile each days paper documents into like a hand made ‘zine’…
– audio documentation (once I master audacity…) – part of this idea was influenced by Wooster Group, with their production ‘Brace Up!’ they filmed rehearsals, and all the performances (sometimes 10yrs apart) – with their video production all this footage is compiled together which I guess (apart from making it really hard to tell whats going on live and recorded, and whats going on in general) compresses the time/space frames  – transposes each experience on top of each other. It was kind of what gave me the idea of to have everyone performing tasks at the same time. But I thought the audio – sound installation – could operate in a similar way. At the end of each day I could add in the new audio to the existing track. That way the repeated audience of (like that of the repeated participant) would also experience the accumulation and growth that this situations produces (which in a way also masks out other things causes a loss…).
– the final thing that I though might be cool to do as well – is after the last ‘performance’ on the sunday – to hold a post-performance de-brief. It worked really well last time – and the other participants always bring new questions and considerations to the floor. It would in a way be a group artist talk.
oh! I thought it would also be a good idea to have an ‘instruction’ panel – so if people walk in late they can just join in the performance without me having to stop and explain what to do.


next step?

So this recent exhibition I did created a lot of things to think about. A lot of stuff to process. Which is good – productive. Uncomfortable as well. Luckily I’ve been reading lots of John Dewey (Art as Experience) so I’m assured by the fact that all this achievement and struggle, doing and reflecting and so on is all part of the ‘experience’.

After the exhibition it felt like I had to very distinctive strains developing simultaneously but completely inderpendent of each other. Not that it is a problem to have different things on the go at once but I felt I needed to make a conscious decision – was I going to keep going with both, if so would I bring them together somehow and how would I do this, was I going to ditch one and so on. What follows is an excerpt from an email explaining the point I’m at and what direction I’m thinking of taking next…


I spent most of last week/the weekend trying to work out what I wanted to achieve with both the performance piece and the turmeric mapping. And if there were any intersections or places that might cross over.

All this stuff with the stats originally stemmed from last year’s grad show piece I guess – were the patterns and material was a way of evoking our (australia’s) relationship with the middle east. In this sense the physical push and pull of the aroma mirrored the socio-political relationship between ‘us’ and ‘them’. At the beginning of this year I was really interested in exploring that further. To me, and I’m generallising, it seemed that Australia isn’t comfortable with its ‘multi-cultural’ status creating tensions within our society between people. Sometimes these can more overt such as the Cronulla Riots, sometimes not.

I think I started working with the stats as a way to find ‘hard evidence’ for certain things I had a hunch on – like that John Howard’s citizenship test operates in a way to keep certain people out. The stats do reflect a ‘white australia’ policy – in that the total population of people born overseas drops drastically when you take those born in northern europe out of the figure. 

And then there was a point where exploring such a complex and huge political issue did my head in (so to speak) and I was slightly uncomfortable with it. Hence the push away from it with the performance experiment. But I 
think I’ve come back around to feeling comfortable exploring this complex issue. I don’t particularly want to take a hard line on it and ‘dictate’ that to my audience through my art – but rather explore the complexities and nuances within the issue which broadly covers things like nationality, racism, population debates, migration (including refugees) etc. I mean its massive. And its overwhelming trying to find a place to start. And there is heaps of material out there. 

But because it kind of stemmed from this idea of popular thought/feeling – what I thought I would do is take it back to the audience as the source. That is use material sourced from everyday audiences as the basis for the transcript used in the performance (probably mixed in with other material)

So what I thought I could do is create a series of posters/facebook event pages with simple statements such as ‘we grew here. You flew here’ accompanied with a direction such as ‘debate’ or ‘argue’ (I’m not sure if this will work – maybe it needs to be really provocative or have more direction?). These would then I guess be a form of research that maps current social feeling about the topics I want to explore. Then I can use this material as the basis for my script for the performance. I can use theoretical quotes and stats as well to give a more rounded basis. And its a way of tying the performance and installation together – as well as giving it a solid grounding in exploring an idea.

And also if I’m using poster in the local area, as well as facebook (largely my friends or locals as well) it brings it back to being a site-specific work which I quite like the idea of…

notes: post performance discussion

J: Its surprising how many different ways there are to say one sentence – which is all I had. And you could just

B: yeah, keep going

J: … emphasis one word or a bunch of phrases, put a pause in … for twenty minutes – I wasn’t bored.  … there were different ways that you could repeat one sentence over and over…

B: And I found depending on the way you guys were playing with the phrases would depend on what I was focusing in on to write. ‘Cause when you were speeding up I was like ‘oh my god’

A: I notice there was a speed thing going on sometimes when I would take a breath and I don’t if it was me locking onto you or you locking onto me but it would be roughly when you where like, like moving the thing [typewriter thing across]

B: Whenever you [A] took a pause thought I’d pick up on one of you two guys [T and J] cause I guess you’re closer. But it seemed to be the same phrases over and over again – like ‘the site is evading you’ and I only ever got ‘the here and now’ from you I.

Be: Yeah – I got heaps of ‘here and now’

B: Did you get any of the rest of what Iz was saying though because you were closer? 

Be: Yeah I think so, but I can’t even… cause it all kind of overloads, like and you just get all the little pockets of words …  But I think you kind of tend to pick up on the same words as you’re going. And then you find a new word and you’re like ‘oh I didn’t hear that before’ 

B: It does your head in, cause you’re like ‘how do you spell that?’

Be: And yeah you kind of go in and out of flows, but yeah there is heaps where I didn’t even hear the click… I think

B: yeah and then it stops working

Be: and then it stops and … it kind of stops the momentum of it




T: I was really surprised that I didn’t learn yours all the way through as well 

B: I noticed you dropped your sheet, like you’d just learnt it enough to not…

 T: wasn’t sure if I was supposed to… yeah I really thought I’d pick up on somebody elses or something of theirs but it was impossible to

B: because you had to focus on what you were doing?

T: yeah. Even though you know it off by heart…




E: Well at the beginning… it was really soothing. … I found it really soothing because there was heaps of people talking. And then you had the rhythm of the type writers which is quite mechanical and you felt like you where transported back to the 1920s… And then one of you [typers] was faster. You [BO] had a lower pitch and you [B] were higher … and you [BO] had more of a drudge like yours kept going a bit more. And then everyone kind of hand their own things so I got ‘route’, I got ‘here and now’ – lots of ‘here and now’, something ‘in space’. But it wasn’t like… I tried to get everyone elses but I didn’t really think it was that important. It was just to get it all holistically. Then maybe halfway through everyone kind a bit [lethargic] and you could hear the typewriter a lot more clearly. And then people started changing it up a bit. So you started to repeat your phrases…. Condense them and so that changed the rhythm. Like it was still a buzz but it was different.




EM: Yeah it was interesting because at the start you can’t hear anything – its just a big mess of noise. And then the longer you sit in it the more you pick up what people are actually saying




El: You guys kind of got a bit weary… like you guys started to change your body positions. And I don’t know if it was just me and I was waiting for the end, when Chris checked the time – it was like everyone perked up and went ‘lets go in for the hard yards’. 

B: I didn’t even see you check the timer though. I was really stressing out…

Be: Yeah I was just watching the keys the whole time.

B: I kept rolling my shoulders because I’d get to a pint where I just couldn’t handle all the noise and then I’d freak out and go ‘ehh’.

Be: But if you do some small thing that distracts you – you know like moving the thing across or something – I find after that starting the next line you have to concentrate a bit more to kind of find a word again sometimes.

B: Do you reckon it would be easier to do it by hand – writing instead of on the typewriter?

A: No – that would get really messy…

Em: yeah and the sound of it…

El: I felt like I actually wanted to write things down… but it didn’t know if I was allowed to

Em: yeah you could have other people writing by hand…

El: yeah like a conscious stream of thought

Em: it’s a soundscape and the typewriter kind of make that

B: And what do you reckon it would be like doing it for a longer period of time?

Em: yeah… as an observer – I think watching the deterioration of the people was half of it

Be: Yeah because  – if you did it for an hour you’d get quite tired by the end of it and…

K: I think you would start giggling as well… cause like I started giggling a bit because … the phrase just started sounding so unusual to me. Like I had to restrain myself…

A: I was more giggly – more smiley at the start. As I went through I kind of got used to it. As soon as the camera goes round I couldn’t help but smile




Em: The build up of the paper to is something too that can’t really happen unless it is for a really long time.

T: It is a beautiful image…

B: I was just chucking the paper…

T: It looks good as it just falls down the side…




El: If you did do it for a really long period of time – you maybe need to swap

B: It is really stressful being on the typewriter.

Be: But even if you wanted more paper – because I was just doing it like regular type with the spacing

B: I think I was getting… like I was trying to mix it up a bit by just twisting it through a bit more and tabbing through a bit – because I couldn’t pick a word! Just having a bit of a meltdown…

Be: Even that as well – like when you can’t concentrate and find a word – say press ‘tab’ or keep pressing ‘space’ until you hear something so that the sound is constant – your not pausing [in the typing] …

B: so structuring what the typers do a little bit more…


Its interesting  how different Be and I interpreted the recording of the words – given no direction. There was already going to be a vast difference because of he difference in the typewriters but its quite obvious from the way we were writing that it was two different people.



J: If you wanted it to go for longer could you have it like ‘tag’ where you jump up and take over the typewriter and so on…?

B: I think part of the thing about this is the repetition and the monotonous aspect of it and the words just become really bizarre and – its almost a trance thing. 

Em: for me its much more interesting if people just have to keep repeating it.

Be: I think the longer you go its like a real kind of endurance test…

A: At the end of it you wouldn’t be able to put two words together…

Em: … something like 4 hours where it becomes completely difficult to talk straight for four hours – or type for four hours. I mean obviously that would…

B: I think I would struggle to type for that long…

El: You were kind of tense Boni – but I think you would get over it. Like you would go ‘I’ve already typed that word’ and then maybe you would have 10minutes of not typing…

B: See I was like ‘but I’ve got to get everything down’

El: yeah you could tell because – you were like ‘rahrhahrah’ and you (bec) were like ‘eh’… but it was nice because it had different tones.

K: I that the progression is harder whereas at the start you’re like ‘ok I’m saying this right, I’m saying this right’ and then eventually you stop caring about the task and it just becomes about the…

B: … the ‘doing’ it

K: yeah

Em: also your trying really hard and its getting it to a point where you can’t do it anymore and that’s really interesting.

B: And if you guys had to talk for a long period of time without a glass of water… you know raspy voices by the end

A: depending on what you wanted to do with the people typing – could actually plan someone to leave halfway through and it would be interesting to see how everyone reacts to that. Like if everyone stops or if everyone tries to keep on going…




El: … the influence of time. Like the concentration levels  – because you guys don’t actually have watches on… I felt like because I didn’t know what the time was I felt like I didn’t know where we were. So its quite stressful – like you didn’t know how long you’d been going for … it would really change it if you did have watches on because it might change the way you talk.

I: I think its really interesting because time is a really personal thing – you can have an hour – it’s the same amount of time but for someone it can go really quickly and for someone else it might drag on…


I think finding your own rhythm is part of it instead of tracing it against a clock.

There was also a suggestion in the de-brief that perhaps as the paper drops someone picks it up and starts reading that. So instead of doing separate performances you could just do the one really long one that deteriorates continuously and all the information overloads at once. And I think Tobey mention that it was interesting that the documentation informs the script for the performance – its cyclical.