It's interesting looking over all the footage again and again, each time with new ideas which link all the pieces together. Things are taking shape...some just as planned, other juxtapositions and configurations arise by 'accident' or 'luck'. The outcome will be a variant or a 'projection' of that which what I had imagined and hoped for- something which, I've come to realize, I really enjoy about filmmaking as it keeps me on my toes and shows how creation is a process rather than a product.
And this process is new to me. Sepehr S.(camera/lighting) pointed out, though, that the dancers' choreography (under Henry Daniel) can be compared to a script which then needs to be framed for the screen. This way of looking at it gave me more clarity on what my role entailed, and how to work in such a manner that the ownership of the choreography is respected throughout its adaptation for the projections.
So far, Nancy, Rheanna and I have been working separately: Nancy is creating a surround sound-scape composed of all the recordings she has done throughout the shoot in combination with her own sound (music) compositions. As she was present on set most of the time, she has a clear understanding of what images and structures we have been mapping out along the way. After hearing some of her compositions she brought along to the set as well as her sound installation (part of 'Moulting'...which by the way, blew me away) I can only say that I am waiting like a kid on Xmas eve to see/ hear how things will combine.
Rheanna is currently editing the timeline for the projection of the 'shadows' (Janelle, Milton and Luciana) which will work as a complementary film to the one I am putting together. The first 2 days we were editing in separate suites and meeting up for coffee breaks to talk things over. However, yesterday evening we decided that even though the films work as individual entities on opposing walls, it would only be logic to work on our edits in the same room if we want the installation to make sense as a whole. Also, I haven't been editing this much in last 6 years so have really enjoyed Rheanna's technical skills and input.
It's time for dinner and to give my overworked goggles a rest.
I come from a world of city lights, high-rises, and the pig bellies served on green plates. There were eight flats on each floor and we lived on the 27th of 40 floors in a complex of nine buildings. Within two blocks, there are 3 complexes by the same developers. The sky is a tiny slither of blue inserted between buildings.
It was September 1990.
I come from a mass exodus of the inevitable. They keep dumping more earth into the sea, narrowing the deep and prosperous Victoria Harbour. We had no way to know whether our city of dreams, tourists, and trade will continue to flow or halt like the streets in Beijing.
It was May 1995.
I come from a townhouse in Markham, Ontario. I went to a gifted elementary school but I was not in the gifted program. I was placed there not because of who I am, but simply due to where I lived. I went to an arts high school but I was not in the arts program. I was placed there not because of who I am, but simply due to where I lived.
It was June 2004.
I come from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, a tri city that does not celebrate its industrious third in its name. While some deny living in Kitchener, others embrace its association to labour and suffers. I moved 11 times over the 7 years I lived there.
It was August 2011
I arrived in Vancouver to pursue further education. I live on a hill beside a quaint little yellow house with green siding and a nice garden. “Where are you from?”, new faces ask. There isn’t a quick answer to this question, and no matter what I decide to say, I know that I will always be caught somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between here and home.
It is May 2012.
The performer-team is now building the Haikai piece that we will be presenting alongside the Gamelan orchestra; we have video footage of their general structure and sound. I'm interested in the negative spaces of the instruments and the possibilities that can be found in the architecture; of particular mention is the gong situated upstage. It holds opportunities for reveals or incomplete gestures, even the shape itself (along with many of the other instruments) suggests a cyclical/round nature. Henry has already made an offer of taking gestures from one of the Gamelan players (we think he's the one giving all the cues) and it has since become part of my movement score. We're on the lookout for whatever else we can source from this chance encounter with Gamelan. On a personal note: my lineage comes from Southeast Asia (Singapore), tracing back to Malaysia and China. Out of everyone, I think my ancestry is most close to Indonesia and thus, the origins of Gamelan -- I've been researching and discovering more Malay dance forms to sneak into my own movement vocabulary. Perhaps digging more into my roots with reveal more about my relation to this music.
In our voice warmups, we've been working presence and challenging each other with singing. Beyond the technical growth, I'm seeing a very clear ensemble building here; for a piece based on such a journey, it seems almost inevitable that we need to come together...and it feels good. Voices are becoming more released, text more clear, and bodies more connected. Next, I think we'll continue on to intentions and perhaps more bookwork with text.
We're at the halfway point and things will be moving faster from here on in.
Originally with the shadows, I had a hard time engaging with this idea of cynicism as the entry point into this entire piece: the notions of “we don’t want you here” and “it’s all your fault”. I was wondering about the consequences of beginning a piece with no context for this hatred: if perhaps these characters could be too-easily categorized into the evil and spiteful shell-of-a-once-human-being archetypes, which for me, is not as interesting if we don’t push through this expectation. For a few days, I feel that we weren’t able to play against this concrete and all-consuming mold. The addition of the shadows began to feel abrasive and abusive, bordering on the edge of telling the others (and perhaps potential audience) that they were not-wanted and unnecessary in this place and time.
You are not needed here.
While this is a provoking place to be, it seemed counter to the concepts we were working with: the idea that we are from their future, coming full circle and trying to tell them what happened. What (at the time) was unclear, was why we were trying to stop the very events that defined our ancestors and made us who we are. More and more, I’m seeing this piece as a delving into our past to arrive at today (knowing the place for the first time): where does our history take us in our never-ending, cyclical search for definition? The people of our past are not only necessary, but should be seduced and invited step-by-step to where they belong, walking to the future with us, hand in hand. To this degree, I feel a desire from a place of being incomplete. We need and want them to succeed.
I’ve been thinking about ‘home’, especially after hearing all these personal stories of trying to retrace our lineage. A musician I follow, Gavin Castleton, once sang in a song: “Home is not the place you dwell. Home is where you see yourself”. Home is a tricky concept for Canadian society.
Where do you see yourself?
It wasn’t until Thursday when Eloi was reading his text, where his sensitivity resonated so strongly that we conceptualized the idea that maybe the shadows are not pushing the others away, but instead, inviting them to join the next part of the journey. This seems to frame things in a much more sensitive way, one that is conducive to sharing these personal stories. With this in mind, I would like to find small moments of that hurt and shame to play against any arising cathartic sentimentality. I believe there to be layers of access into this work; and I am continually trying to see where Henry’s idea of the herald fits in.
Regardless, us three ‘shadows’ have to solidify text and movement for next week. Speaking of which, I have also been doing vocal-warmups and as the main theatre research assistant, and I’m glad to be able to help with text production and speech; this week we concentrated on breath and awareness of the mechanisms for articulation. Some great voice work is happening and I look forward to facilitating more exploration. As always: ‘Let’s...go!”
Henry is currently exploring the idea of transferring cinematic practices and techniques to live performance. In rehearsals, terminology such as “action” and “cut” are being used to allude to the relationship between the rehearsal space, and the film set. The intricate composition of the filmic frame can be paralleled with the accuracy and detail in the choreographic composition—both focus on the aesthetic placement of shapes in relation to one another. One goal of the filmmaker is to give the illusion that the 2-dimensional space is 3-dimensional, which is achieved by creating depth. In rehearsal today the dancers also played with the idea of depth, utilizing the length of the rehearsal space in their solos.
Another aspect of filmmaking that is incredibly relevant to Here be dragons is editing, and the manipulation of time. Although Columbus’s 1492 journey took months to complete, when represented on film this timeframe would be condensed immensely to encapsulate only moments and scenes essential to the plot. Here be dragons chronicles aspects of this journey, but only shares moments inherent to the “thesis” of the piece.
Here is an early silent picture about Christopher Columbus that reminds me of George Melies's work. Although ideas about editing and cinematic composition have evolved since the early days of film, it is a good watch, and certainly relevant.
This is the third day of the intersession period and a lot has already happened. Many inspiring things have been brought by the individual participants to the production circle. Editing all this material will be a fascinating and challenging task for all of us. I would personally like to share this song from a famous Brazillian composer songwriter that many of you may know. His name is Caetano Veloso and the song is
, inspired by the work of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. (a quick translation below).
heart can not handle
heart is not
is necessary /precise
Living is not necessary
, the arc
in the morning
Living is not
The car is
Daily scheduleMovement warm-up – 11.30-12.30 Voice warm-up - 12.30-1.00 Team assignments/break - 1.00-1.30 Workshop 1.30-3.30 Showings 3.30-4.30
SpacesSee online Google Calendar for updated studio assignments https://www.google.com/calendar/render?pli=1
Gamelan rehearsals for May 20th PerformanceVancouver Community College (Fraser & E. Broadway) Sunday May 13 6:30pm - 9:30pm Monday May14 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Gamelan Concert (haikai)Sunday, May 20th 7.30pm performance in the Wong Experimental Theatre 4:00 Sound check (Wong Theatre with dancers) 6:00 meal break 8:00 show begins 8:45 intermission 9:15 show resumes (haikai) 10:00 strike
Continuing Intersession RehearsalsSee online Google Calendar for updated studio assignments https://www.google.com/calendar/render?pli=1
Performance sharinghere be dragons (workshop showing) Week of June 4th. Showing in the Audain Gallery @ The Woodward’s.
I will be holding auditions for a diverse group of four to six dancers/performers for Haikai. The work requires a strong movement technique, individuality, and a willingness to explore a range of themes circumscribed by and/or encompassed within the phrase "Going West to find the East/Going East to find the West". For an overview of the project and more specific details on its objectives please also visit the website.
If the work interests you and you can commit to an extensive and prolonged rehearsal period please show up at:
Place: 149 West Hastings Street, SFU Contemporary Arts, Woodward’s Dance Studio – Rm. 4750.
Time: January 14th 2012. 10.00 – 4.00pm
All attendees must sign in at the desk opposite the security booth on the ground floor of the Woodward’s building.
Blog entry by Nancy Tam
December 14th, 2011
In my musical analysis of John Cage’s Haikai, I very quickly found that I could not apply a traditional western approach, i.e. looking for a leading motif and charting its development throughout the piece. I soon found that each movement of the piece has seventeen sound events, which coincides with the seventeen syllables found in the traditional Japanese poetic form: haikai.
I then assumed that Cage did not arbitrarily choose to name this piece Haikai, since the organization of sound events indicates meticulous attention to formal structure, and haiku also has the same syllabic form. Thus, my further research concentrated on the title haikai in an effort to discover Cage’s intention in using this particular name, haikai. The Haiku Society of America defines haikai as:
"Haikai" is short for haikai no renga, the popular style of Japanese linked verse originating in the sixteenth century, as opposed to the earlier aristocratic renga. In both Japanese and English, the word haikai can also refer to all haiku-related literature (haiku, renku, senryu, haibun, the diaries and travel writings of haiku poets).
Although this brief definition suffices as a guide for contemporary haikai poets to participate in the multilingual compositional discourse, I was interested in a more in-depth study of the poetic form and its philosophical implications in relation to Cage’s work.
In Japanese literary scholar William Richie Wilson’s book The Truth of Haikai, he discusses the philosophical implications of composing a haikai. Wilson suggests that, “the important thing is what the poet perceives with his own, no[t] other’s, eyes and ears—what moves him becomes a poem—and it is a poem immediately. This is the truth of haikai.” (Wilson, 50) Perhaps Cage realized this candid fact of documenting phenomenological experiences and wished to capture the “truth” of haikai through the language that he best converses through, i.e., music. (Ibid) Also pertinent in the construction of haikai is the genuineness of objectivity, that in order to express true insights with regard to an object, the “poet [must] first identify with his material”. (Ibid, 51) I feel that this holistic, objective approach to expression is the other that Cage sought to capture in his Haikai. Furthermore, Wilson suggests that haikai implies “pliancy”, which connotes flexibility and sadness. (Ibid) As the haikai poet Basho wrote, “Don’t try for what men of old left behind; try for what they were trying to achieve.” (Ibid, 50) I relate this quote to Cage’s treatment of musical convention; that instead of following the conventional treatment of gamelan sounds, Cage sought new sonic possibilities with traditional instruments.
In 1987, Jon Siddall (the then artistic director of the Evergreen Gamelan Orchestra) describes Cage’s fascination with finding new sounds with the “kettled shaped pots” in Robert Everett-Green’s interview article for the Globe and Mail. (Everett-Green, 1) Cage created these by turning the gongs upside down, and by bowing them with a violin bow. I personally interviewed Siddall in November 2011 and he was clear to point out that Cage’s continual search for new sonic possibilities was not to consciously appropriate Eastern cultures, but to simply think about sounds and silences, to create movement and stillness. Through exploring these sonic possibilities, particular interactions between instruments and very special relationships between participating musicians could occur.
Siddall also mentioned that Haikai is heavily based on reactions. When I looked more closely at the score of Haikai I discovered this to be true. The score punctiliously maps out what sound events should happen though there is minimal use of notated rhythms. I find this freedom from strictly notated rhythm requires performers to hone their listening and musical sensibility as individuals and also as an ensemble, and in doing so, to pay more attention to structure within their interactions.
It is difficult to know with any degree of certainty whether Cage deliberately used these insights from 16th century haikai composition as inspiration for Haikai, even though there are striking similarities between Cage’s philosophy of listening and the ‘philosophy’ of perception in 16th century haikai poetry. Perhaps in the 21st century listeners can utilize these insights not only in speculating on Cage’s intentions, but also as a means to perceive Haikai as a way to understand our contemporary world.
Everett-Green, Robert. "Gamelan a Different Kettle of Music." The Globe and Mail: E.11. Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies. Apr 04 1987. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.
Handerson, Harold G., William J. Higginson, and Anita Virgil. "Definition of Haikai." Haiku Society of America. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.
Wilson, William Ritchie. "The Truth of Haikai." Monumenta Nipponica 2nd ser. 26.1 (1971): 49-53. Jstor. Web. 5 Dec. 2011.
Henry plans to begin initial choreographic investigations for John Cage’s ‘Haikai’ (1986) in January 2012. As research assistants, Nancy Tam and I have begun our own research on the use of the I-Ching and chance methods by Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham.
Our work will involve looking at influences and correlations between these two men; how audiences interpreted their ideas in the 1950’s and 60’s; why they were looking for alternative means to create work; and especially how religious/philosophical ideas inherent in the Buddhist tradition became relevant to art practices at that time. What is most exciting for Nancy and myself is the fact that we feel as if we are actually in conversation with both Cage and Cunningham, engaging in lively debate about the direction of their ideas and artistic choices.
These two men, and many others at the time, were trying things that challenged the ‘norm’ in their respective disciplines. Cunningham sought to overcome strong tendencies toward narratives or stories in dance, as well as emotionally expressive movement that seemed burdensome to some audiences, and an overly dependent relationship between music and dance. Under the influence of Cage, Cunningham used the I-Ching to ‘produce something that his own experience might not’, allowing an ‘otherness’ to make compositional decisions about the order of movement phrases and spatial arrangements. He also worked with visual artists such as John Jaspers and Robert Rauschenberg (among others) who were also challenging established methods and approaches within their medium.
Nancy and I also talked about our own pursuit of ‘otherness’ in our work, in the sense that we are interested in methods and approaches that lead us away from the ‘normative’, which of course leads me to ask the following questions. What precisely do we see as normative in this second decade of the 21st century? How is my own work as a young choreographer and performer categorised or viewed by others? Am I as a graduate student circling back on ideas already formed and tested by history? And if so, what can I add to the discourse on dance and music that is different?
The musical context for this work is John Cage’s “Haikai”, a piece initially written for the Si Pawit Gamelan Degung of the Evergreen Club of Toronto in 1986.
This work is partly in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Cage’s birth. However, like every one of the prototypes we plan to stage, “Haikai” engages with different ‘constructions’ of ‘East’ and ‘West’. In doing so, the choreography will explore the structure of the Japanese poetic form haiku as well as engage with ‘Korean Unison’ rhythms, all within the context of a Javanese gamelan ensemble.
John Cage was known for his mischievous, irreverent, and provocative questioning of some of music's most sacred canons, a penchant for experimentation with different cultural forms, as well as his enormous contribution to dance via collaborations with life-partner Merce Cunningham. An important aspect of this work was his ‘chance procedures’ and his insistence on these two disciplines (dance and music) working independently, but at the same time in collaboration with one another. This new aesthetic was known for its persistence in breaking down the chain of cohesion between the two.
Project Barca will engage with some of these ideas as it seeks to deconstruct the old as well as re-construct a new path out of its remains. Studio work begins in January 2012 for an estimated premiere in mid April. The research team plans to offer its second InfoShop sometime between these two dates.
“Road to Ubud” - Haikai
Participants in this contest are strongly advised to attend the InfoShop on October 15th 2011 at the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU Woodward’s (see details on Project Barca’s website). http://www.sfu.ca/~hdaniel/
Project Barca Logo Contest Guidelines
Saturday, October 15, 2011: Submission Site Opens at 9:00 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time)
Saturday, November 19, 2011: Site Closes at 11:30 pm (Pacific Standard Time)
Saturday, November 26, 2011: Project Barca Jury members decide on top 3 finalists
Submit comments on Project Barca’s blog site in support of one of the top three designs
Monday, December 5, 2011: Winner announced on Project Barca website
Submissions should be made no later than 11:30 pm (Pacific Standard Time) on Friday, November 19, 2011.
The logo should be recognizable whether it’s small or large, black and white or in colour, both in positive and negative form.
Keep it simple. Maximum of two colours can be used (not including black). The logo will be used in conjunction with the Project Barca website colours, the SSHRC Funding logo, and the SFU logo and wordmark.
It is absolutely necessary to design a graphic and/or wordmark that captures the complex set of ideas embedded in the phrase - Going ‘West’ to find the ‘East’!
Up to three submissions per participant will be accepted.
Participants must be 18 and older and have a valid SFU Computing ID.
The logo must be original work of the submitter and must not contain copyrighted or trademarked material.
The creator grants exclusive rights for the design to Project Barca.
Submissions will be judged by the Project Barca Design Committee.
Project Barca blog users will be invited to vote for their favorite design from the top 3 finalists chosen by the Logo Design Committee.
The logo adjudged by the committee to encompass the concepts embedded in Project Barca will win the contest and will be announced on or before December 5th, 2011.
If no winner is selected, the competition is considered void and no prize will be awarded.
Submissions must have a transparent background.
Please submit your logo as a JPG, PNG, or GIF image with a minimum resolution of 640 x 640 px at 72 dpi.
Include both colour and black & white version.
Avoid the use of gradients (including elements such as drop shadows) unless created inside a vector program.
Include a short design concept description and list PANTONE and RGB colours used, as well as fonts.
Include your full name and email address in your design description.
Upon submission of an entry, Project Barca acquires ownership of the logo by assignment of copyright, and the submitting designer disclaims any trademarks and without limitation all other rights related to the design.
By submitting a logo for entry in the competition, the designer acknowledges that he/she is the person that made the logo and is its rightful owner.
The designer also certifies that the logo does not infringe upon the rights of any third party and that it does not violate any copyright.
The prize of a $300 for the winning designer covers ownership rights. All other designs submitted shall remain the intellectual property of Project Barca.
Due credit will be given to top three logo-finalists on the Project Barca website.
The prize for the winning Project Barca logo will be a $300.
Return of Designs
Participants are advised to retain personal records of their designs, as the designs submitted will not be returned to them.
Project Barca will not confirm receipt of any entry.
No responsibility can be accepted for entries that are lost, delayed, or damaged.
Any submissions which do not satisfy the above rules will be ignored without any warning.
Validity of the Rules
By participating in the competition, the participants unreservedly accept these rules.
Where Will the Logo Be Used?
The logo may be used on the web site, online videos, in presentations, on printed documentation and on merchandise for Project Barca.
How to Submit an Entry
Please click here, login with your SFU ID and submit your logo.
Welcome to my blog. Please drop by occasionally to see what we're up to. This project promises to take us all on a very exciting journey!