Kinhin in Wollongong

This is a video I took using my iPhone whilst meandering along the beach in Wollongong, Australia, yesterday morning. There are no thoughts. Just a soft, rhythmic pull of the tide’s intrinsic motion. The sand sank and crumbled ‘neath my feet. The sea soaked them, pulling back the crunchy pink and beige crystals, leaving my toes wet, cool and salty. The salt in the sea tinged two of my toes (which had been rubbed raw with blisters from walking around all day in heels). This pungent pique–not quite pain, but sharp, stinging perception–disinfected them. There was a purity of touch in the euphonious fluctuation between the sea, the sand, and my feet. I tried (but failed) to walk in time to this.

I was here to do a performance at a conference called ‘Provocations’ in Wollongong. The subject matter pontificated here was provocative in a theoretical sense: sex, pornography, the volatility of normality, doing and undoing our bodies, vibrant and vibrating materialities, all sorts of genders, technologies and politics, class, narcissism and fat (my own as well as activists’), migration, nomadic rhizomes of thought (and action), pathological wound cultures, social and structural injustice, and the rest (which circulated like a drone around the delegates, arousing and questioning).

My own part of this Happening was to provoke in a literal sense, by performing in a TRANCE in front of these pontificating intellectuals. They raved about their Queer and queerer theories. Then I did my pseudo-dance. Not really dancing at all, but responding to my own heartbeat, enveloped by the rhythmic sound, I splodged around the foyer, quasi-elastically. Listening to my core, which was retching emotions of anger, fear, impatience, but also joy, shame, elation, I wrenched the corpuscular molecules of muscle and (mostly) fat that comprised my massive corpus, and moved across the floor and up and down the walls. Not particularly delicately. No where near grace.

And yet. Yes. There were moments of connection between myself and my body which fulfilled the said intentions I had proceeded with. Some of the voyeurs found it hard to articulate what they had seen. Others found it titillating. More still (at least) provocative.

Performance complete (see https://lornacollins.com/trance-⬇%EF%B8%8F-under/ for documentation), I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of my flying visit to Australia. At the conference, I was particularly impressed and stimulated by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi’s interventions with the Sense Lab. Erin and Brian are superstars in the world of creative theory and cultural studies. At the conference they elevated thought into play, by encouraging delegates to use their imagination and creativity to contribute their own interpretations of texts, problems or suggestions. I got going on this, particularly on the last day of the conference, and started delicately ripping up bits of cardboard (my intention being to make a fractal snowflake) and declaring suggestions and questions (written in fragments, printed on pieces of paper, flung around the room) to other participants. Hampered by an immediate and hypocritical restraint by a member of the Sense Lab, I retreated. A few minutes later, I played cat’s cradle with Erin, and elastics with someone else. At a serious conference this was novel. I wondered what kind of knowledge these activities were disseminating, what was the point (or telos), and without it, what was going on? We use these sorts of activities to teach Foundation art students at Cambridge Regional College. With much fun and games. Pure, unrestrained creativity. Except at Wollongong I was restrained, which spiked my sensitivity.

I had to leave to return to Sydney before this session was finished, so I did not see what happened. I wish I had done. I am a major fan of Erin and Brian’s work with the Sense Lab, and I wish I had the chance to really engage with their work, make things, critique them, and construct decisions that pertain to understand the world from a Sensual point of view.

On the way back to Blighty I had the fortune to stay with my brother Edward’s oldest friend, Sam, in Sydney. He took my to Bondi Beach for dinner, where I ate the most exquisite piece of salmon I have ever eaten. This morning we went to Manley to say hi to his parents and I fell in love with their gorgeous sausage dog Daphne. Now I’m at the airport waiting for my plane. I miss the horses and can’t wait to get back home.

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The Pulse of Prāṇāyāma

Pulse Poster

 

Those who wish to practice will need to pay a nominal fee of a regular drop-in class at £15 (or free for ETHOS members):
http://goo.gl/Bm1xRT

The exhibition in the other studio is free for all but pre-booking by Thursday 8th May is required to provision for drinks and nibbles:
http://goo.gl/s5e0Gx

 

 

The pulse of prāṇāyāma

LPC posterHere is the plan:

Prāṇāyāma is a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the life force”. The pulse of prāṇāyāma is a performance-installation artwork which intends to capture this life force. It takes place in the hot room at the renowned ETHOS Hot Yoga Sports Studios in central Cambridge. The soundtrack of the installation is a recording of artist Lorna Collins’s heartbeat pounding with a constantly changing speed and volume, obtained from her own performance of practicing Bikram yoga. As each posture changes, so does the velocity and pitch of the heartbeat. The narrative of the whole recording follows the 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises of Bikram yoga.

Mats are laid out in the studio. Participants can practice yoga during the installation, knowing when to change pose by following the change in tempo or volume of the heartbeat in the recording. The lights in the studio will change colour as each posture ends and the next one starts. Participants who do not wish to practice can still have an equally powerful experience, amplified in the heat of the room, by sinking into the mats and allowing their own heartbeat to synchronise with the recording. They have a beautiful chance to pause, lie down and absorb the vibrating force of the heartbeat. All participants then together create a very new kind of installation art, as the performance happens.

This performance-installation is a provocative piece of sound art. At times the noises on the recording of the heartbeat jar and are unrecognisable. Sometimes we hear Collins groan, as she pushes her body to the limit. The sound of (‘pranayama’) breathing in the beginning involves a warbling, as Collins sucks the air in and out of her throat. These sounds are strange and compelling. And then the heartbeat kicks in. It bangs on and on as the artist strains towards each posture, becoming so loud that it sounds as though the speakers are being spanked. This continues, and changes as she recovers and the postures advance. By the end the heartbeat has returned to its normal, steady rate. The whole piece is then a symphony, with 26 acts.

Making the link between hot yoga and performance art is an aesthetic innovation, whilst it confirms and advocates the medical benefits of practicing yoga and the meditative benefits of using this practice to make art. The recording could also be utilized to provide evidence of the cardiovascular benefits of Bikram yoga practice. This work also breaks new curatorial ground since it becomes an interactive installation which opens a new space for participants to feel their own bodies, whilst becoming saturated by the sound, rhythm and vibration of this artwork. Participants meet on the pulsating plane of prāṇāyāma that trembles and yet grasps us in this artwork – as the ineffable but here made sensual force of life.

All the Fantasies of the People

Plastique Fantastique All the Fantasies of the People 

Performance at Wysing Arts Centre, 31 August, 2013.

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I went to Wysing Arts Centre’s festival ‘Space-Time: Convention T’ yesterday, keen to schmooze and network with some arty people from the East of England (such as Aid&Abet  and OUTPOST) and in particular because I wanted to see Simon O’Sullivan and David Burrows’s performance as Plastique Fantastique. I wasn’t the only groupie, and there were plenty of PF’s followers present at Wysing.

Before the performance we gathered by the door of the ‘Black Box’ space, lured by the smell and smoke of incense sticks burning in the drain outside. The background noise was equally enticing: a pseudo-spiritual intonation which, I saw as I entered, came from the PF accomplices, who made up a cross between the percussion section of an orchestra and a pop group, twanging sound and making rhythm fill the box-like room. Visitors walked in and seeped up the different senses: this ritualized sound, the dim lighting in the room (which added to the atmosphere), the smell of incense, the taste (of viscous air solidified with incense, ingested by breathing it down the oesophagus. It’s rather like swallowing massage oil) and touch (this malleable thickness in the air, which chafed the skin).

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Suddenly Simon, who was sitting down in the corner, stood up. He positioned himself in a prominent but lop-sided position in the performing area. Upright, a firm plank amidst the groovy air-molecules that wavered with the smoke, and dressed in black, Simon gave the impression of a sage who was about to speak his aphoristic opus. Of course, this was partially comical, and yet highly serious. And we were not disappointed.

David, his accomplice, immediately began to coat Simon’s embodied clothing and any revealing bits of skin with flour, followed by sticky dollops of honey, and then black glitter. Soon Simon’s entire body, his head, and his limbs were simultaneously blackened, coated with powder and thick swashes of honey, and also shimmering as the minimal lighting (set by John Cussans a collaborator who was carefully holding a torch) reflected on the glitter.

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Thus warmed up, Simon began to speak. I did not understand everything he said, until he said There is not now and never has been anything to understand. Up to this point, I had missed that point. Here were All the Fantasies of the People. Simon pronounced (slowly) ideas that seemed to play and rejig the sense of capitalist consumer conventions with a schizophrenic, dare I even say (and remember, there isn’t anything to understand) polymorphic vision of reality. His speech was set alongside the backdrop of a video projection with images, characters and words that danced and moved in synchronicity (and, obviously, divergence) with Simon’s persuasive enunciation.

So what was it about? Clearly there was a scientific theoretical hypothesis occurring (rather than being represented) in this performance. Something to do with anti-signification and the gap between signs and things. But it would be boring and imperceptive to think that PF are primarily concerned with rupturing thought à la Deleuze et Guattari (or not). Indeed, as the heat was rising in the space, the air turned into a hazy fog (that was almost a smog) of burning, choky odour. Amidst the dim there was the occasional spark of light, which glistened off the crystals of glitter that David had plastered onto Simon’s skin (particularly on his face).

Although I was not quite sure what to make of this sensuous, visionary, experimental performance, it was deeply affective, serious and amusing. Towards the end the orchestra had transposed their spiritual intonation into very loud bangs. Soon the space was throbbing. Meanwhile, Simon stood as still and stiff as a post, continuing his mantra.

All The Fantasies of the People[!]

Subkast Koffke (or Starbucks)

Altzar pop

By now Simon was shouting, even yelling. With all the banging, I could hardly hear what he was trying to say. I looked at his hands, holding his script – he was shaking. Such intensity.

Starbucks fucking

I could see wrinkles on his forehead, from cracks in the black glitter and his tight grimace (frowning) as he spoke.

Faked up crystal energy for the coffee table

Kitsch

Gabagabagaba!!

All hail to the great gobbah!!

Immense intensity – I began to have deeply tactile sensations as the sound, aura, smell, and smoke reached a crescendo and pummelled my sense organs. These were quasi-synaesthetic and palpable multi-sensuous experiences.

Simon by now was practically hyperventilating, although so calmly. He was in a trance. We were all in a trance. It was epic.

Then he reached the end of his speech. Two of his accomplices put a mask with wooden branches mask on Simon’s face, covering it entirely. We couldn’t see his face. In fact, we couldn’t see anyone’s face, since they were all wearing masks. This was clearly a theoretical position, on the one hand, in relation to Deleuze’s ideas about faciality and the probe-head. In brief, faciality is all about the signifiance, subjectification, coding and totalitarianism. It’s not a good thing. But a probe-head is ‘a living block’ that dismantles nasty faciality and opens ‘a rhizomatic realm of possibility effecting the potentialization of possible.’ I think the masks of PF, and particularly Simon’s one at the end, were all probe-heads, and they were supposed to set us all free (although, Simon’s had tree branches, which is an arborial (thus teleological) rather than rhyzomatic logic, surely)…

So, did they set us free?

The video then stopped and it said on the screen:

Communiqué end

Someone opened the door, and we all went out to get some clean air, which was a relief, but also a disappointment. I wanted to see (and sense) more…

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‘Plastique Fantastique is a mythopoetic fiction – an investigation of aesthetics, the sacred and politics – produced through comics, performances, text, installations and shrines and assemblages.’

http://www.plastiquefantastique.org

Wysing Arts Centre provides alternative environments and structures for artistic research, experimentation, discovery and production, out of which emerges an ongoing programme of exhibitions, public events, family and schools activity.

Our large rural site near Cambridge includes a gallery, education and new media facilities, artists’ studios, project spaces and a 17th century farmhouse.

http://www.wysingartscentre.org

Life (Bildung)

I have been invited to submit a proposal for a transgressive-sounding interactive conference, organised by the artist/curatorial group ‘Life-Agency’ (established by Anna Clifford, Ciarán Wood and Miloslav Vorlíček). This conference will be held at the Barbican Centre, London, in August. It follows the theme of Life (Bildung) and aims to amplify multidisciplinary collaboration , creating experiments that encourage dialogue between otherwise disparate practices.

Life (Bildung) is a project composed of a series of 3 minute events – trailers – followed by 3 minutes of critical feedback. Artists, experts and practitioners will engage in a continuous dialogue, presenting a wide range of practices in quick succession. The project brings experts from multiple disciplines and specializations into contact not only with one another, but also into involved conversation with the audience, creating a non-hierarchical environment of exchange.

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Here is my proposal:

About me:

I am a painter, poet and arts educator based in Cambridge, where I completed my PhD in French philosophy, as a Foundation scholar at Jesus College. My philosophical and artistic journey strives to ‘Make Sense’ of my existence, and source my embodied place in the world. This notion of ‘Making Sense’ is a vocation, activated and fuelled by art practice. By creating artworks (using colours, words, moving meditation, and experimental media) I find a method of sharing an essence of life with others and I build a community. Thence my solitary ‘I’ becomes a ‘We’, building into a group of artistic activists who gather to effect social change to source and express the zeitgeist of life itself. ‘Making Sense’ is a profound artistic movement, which is instigated through direct collaborations with individuals who come from diverse fields: artists, architects, psychologists, neurologists, people working in prisons, patients who have been detained in mental hospitals, farmers, and all those who use art as a proactive, sensuous discipline of reform. We meet, create and perform at annual colloquia, to produce a language and knowledge that is sensuous, invigorating, accessible and politically active. The events provide international, interdisciplinary and experimental moments of mutual creativity, empathy and meaning, during the sensuous activity of creating art and debating timely issues about the present. This aesthetic process reaches beyond the gatherings of each colloquium, and stretches into the working, daily lives of our participants. Making Sense becomes a way to live by using art to heal, connect with others, and find a meditative harmony that both makes life more possible and reveals its inherent beauty.

Proposal:

In this presentation I propose to introduce participants to my project of ‘Making Sense’ and conduct an experimental, collaborative dialogue that generates an unexpected, but inherently creative and multidisciplinary vocabulary of outcomes. I would instigate a spontaneous poetry performance, where each member of the audience invents either one word or one phrase each, and together we create a communal piece of literature and, in doing so, build a new fraternity of working together. As a lively form of collective psychography, a hyper-accelerated game of Surrealist automatic writing, an ‘Exquisite corpse’ poetry performance, individuals must spontaneously continue the poem and invent their own phrase to continue the stanza. We go around the lecture hall so that everyone has a turn, whilst I keep track of time. The locomotion of this exercise is impetuous and swift. The resultant poem, which we all compose and perform together, is surprising. It may be nonsensical, or at the edges of sense, whilst its creative process of manufacture provides a powerful agency that brings participants together and expresses a new mode of Making Sense. This 3-minute poetry performance will be impulsive and fast-paced. It will build into a discussion about what the unexpected outcomes of this conceptual and sensory exchange reveal about life in the present, and defining what form of zeitgeist we can all make and take from this collaborative experience.