January 9, 2016 § 2 Comments
I decided to capture an experience I am becoming aware of as an expression of my neurodivergence. It is my love of people watching. A sense of connection is forged through observation.
Very different from my usual video work. For the Sake of Nostalgia takes it’s title from a snippet of overheard conversation which is recorded in the video but is somewhat lost in the soundtrack. It’s an attempt to explore different forms of relatedness and alternative storytelling with the absence of character or protagonist the story becomes abstract, fleeting and without clear focus. It becomes truer to life in this sense.
However the sound track and the decision to use a filter manipulate the viewer. The footage is random and with the exception of the first segment which was shortened at the beginning it is unedited. Even this slight touch of hand created a vastly different atmosphere.
I find people so fascinating I could watch them for hours. I can watch this video many times over and savour the extraordinary micro moments in all these players lives. It prompts me to think about multiple narratives and the beauty of human movement and gesture. I derive such pleasure from the overheard phrase caught in passing and to note the tread of feet on a pavement. Each shoe is interesting, intriguing and significant. The boot with a missing patch at the toe, the clunky patent t-bar shoes and the casual pumps worn on bare feet – they draw me in and delight me.
Each bag or backpack, every gait and fragment of sound seems important and yet fleeting. That is their beauty. They wash over me creating waves of delight and sometimes hilarity. The things people say to one another in casual conversation as they walk together from A to B are often funny, perhaps because they are without context but also because they are so revealing.
For me people watch is probably as good as reading poetry or listening to a symphony. I’m astonished at how rarely people in motion collide. They move quickly and with infinite variety. Viewed abstractly and en masse it is extraordinarily graceful. You can tell a lot about emotional tone and emotional states from people watch and this too is endlessly fascinating.
I feel engaged, connected and energised.
January 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Marie Lund, Loads 2014, concrete and polyester. Photo by Andy Keate
This is blog post about making changes that enable. Sometimes the changes are forced or counterintuitive. I’m enjoying thinking about how transformative some changes can be in enhancing our ability to function and in altering negative self-image. I’m inspired to write it by reading Ysette Guevara’s blog From job crafting to life crafting.
Something new is happening in my life – I have become backpack woman. This is a direct result of losing the family car just before the holidays and deciding not to replace it just yet. We’re trying out car-free living in a city which is accessible on foot and by bus.
It took a little while to work out how to manage my day and still be able to get to the pool for a swim before heading to work at my studio. I need to swim to stay regulated. Without it my sleep patterns quickly slide impacting seriously on my ability to function.
Thus I need to be able to carry both swim gear, laptop and other essentials efficiently and without creating neck and back pain.
A bus key and a well designed backpack are proving to be two revolutionary purchases. Seemingly trivial they are actually transformational. For the first time in decades I’m feeling more connected to my environment and freer.
The car was undoubtedly freeing in other ways but also a trap. Hugely comforting in winter and essential for some journeys and for the period in our lives when our children we small and we needed to accommodate some serious sensory issues. The car was our comfort blanket but also the creator of bad habit and a boon to disorganisation.
I am coming to realise that without the car I am a better planner. No longer able to throw my kit into the boot or simply run the car to the shops when things run out I think my options out more carefully. I’m arriving at alternative solutions, which are different and seem to work well.
Ordering groceries online is a major boon. I can check what we need against the cupboards and fridge as I click. It’s hugely relieving not to have to supermarket shop anymore. I order mainly cupboard goods and top up fresh items as I need them on passing through town.
Travelling by bus means I now move in straight lines – the bus routes are all direct creating a triangle with points south, north and east of the city. Car journey’s were meandering circuits of one way systems and a constant chasing of the clear route avoiding traffic and roadworks. The difference is extraordinary in terms of sensory load. Driving and being passenger also can’t compare on this score.
Of course you give up certain agency with buses – you have to wait and sometimes in the rain but you don’t have to worry about parking, refuelling or traffic restrictions.
The backpack is also proving to be a revelation. I’m probably as ever late to the party here. What have I been doing all these years with a cumbersome collection of handbags and totes?! A well designed backpack in which to carry all the vitals you will need for you day may not be fashionable or too stylish – though mine is inoffensive and compact – but it’s effect on the body is too good to miss.
Walking is entirely different when you have a well distributed load sitting on the right part of your back. Arms are free to swing and there’s no constant hitching of straps. More importantly still no cricked neck or aching arms. The small of my back isn’t complaining either.
There’ll probably come a moment when I miss the car – circumstances may change and we may find we need to reconsider our decision – but I hope I’ll hold onto the positives nonetheless. This period is about pausing and observing what happens when you make a shift in lifestyle habits.
I’m not as hopelessly disorganised as I feared. Organisation happens differently for me and I’m good with online, with less baggage, with straight lines and greatly benefit from the physical connection with my environment that walking and bussing bring.
I summarise it thus. Simplify and connect. Interesting to consider that sometimes what we think of as conveniences aren’t.
January 4, 2016 § 3 Comments
Objects found today which speak…With all the forms I use as an artist I sometimes forget that the principle source of my inspiration is object work. No matter what I do it all springs from the objects around me and, of course, the ghosts of the past echoing through them.
Today was an important reminder. For the first time in a while I found myself with the opportunity to browse in a charity shop. I have a big submission to write and its skeleton (a sketchy draft) lies buried under a pile of papers – I know what I must write but I’m still feeling my way to nailing it down. Something stops me from committing to the format. My work doesn’t really fit into an online form but I’ll have to squeeze it into shape somehow.
The charity shop took me one step further. Towards the end of a reasonably pleasant rummage (no vintage suitcases alack!) I happened on a basket of scarves on the counter. I usually like to run my hands through them for silk. I rarely buy but sometimes the right one fishes up. Today it did – though at first I was ready to walk away despite it’s powerful call.
It said Abuela (grandma) – the woman responsible for my entire project and the deepest font of all my inspirations. I picked it up and admired it and immediately considered it for the performance I’m working on. Sometimes an object is the cornerstone of a piece providing a way in and anchoring it – making it tangible and real rather than a mere figment of my imagination. Only the other night I realised I would have to call on Abuela for my performance idea. Now here she was!
Yet I put it back. I turned away. A sensible voice told me that I collect too much stuff, that I’ll forget the scarf, that if I even get the gig I will have moved on by then and I won’t need this scarf despite the powerful jolt of recognition it’s bold colours and flowing florals bring.
But Abuela calls again. She’s in the room now, standing next to me urging me to turn back and so I do. I’ll take the scarf I say, and suddenly notice a small leather-bound dictionary nestling on the counter behind the basket. It hasn’t yet been placed out in the store. Spanish-English English -Spanish. My two tongues.
As the woman takes the scarf and wraps it in a paper bag I reach for the dictionary. Inside a dedication, with love and best wishes from Mummy Xmas 1954.
It couldn’t be more perfect an object – reeking of the times (my father’s fertile playwriting years), of family bonds, of bilingual bi-cultural lives, of journey back and forth. Reeking even of my mother’s own hand and her endless dedications to us over the years. It reeks of my father, his library, his life’s work. It reeks of grandma and grandpa and every single object in their flat in Barcelona, every detail of their clothing, their routines, their foibles. Their enveloping love.
From this tiny book you can learn that exile is destierro. There is no mention however of homesickness – añoranza.
Abuela’s scarf was right to pull me back. She knew I needed this book for my performance. She just knew.