Blogs mnartists.blog Laura Robards

Machine on the Field: Not Even a Super Target Could Have Saved Us

If our artists in residence Machine Project did one thing well, it was keep us busy: busy herding sheep for sonic experiments, busy recruiting reel lawn mowers for a choreographed dance on the field, busy making daily trips to the grocery store for a cornucopia  of edible goods. I was one member of a the crew […]

If our artists in residence Machine Project did one thing well, it was keep us busy: busy herding sheep for sonic experiments, busy recruiting reel lawn mowers for a choreographed dance on the field, busy making daily trips to the grocery store for a cornucopia  of edible goods. I was one member of a the crew dedicated to finding everything they needed to make sheep amplification, communal bell ringing, and operas for dogs possible. Not even a Super Target could have saved us.

 

Over the last few months, I have helped prepare for these two weeks of program pandemonium; I am now a bonafide expert in research of the weird. Are you in need of a polygraphist for a public event? Would you like to hire a multiplicity of bagpipe ensembles in full Scottish Regalia (how else?) for an afternoon of dueling pipers? Or perhaps you need a dairy goat with film experience? Guess what? I know where to find all of these things and more.

Vo 2.4 of the Machine Project Source List: 40-50 small watermelons, 7 battery powered soldering irons, 100 push mowers, 2-3 sheep, 4'x8' plywood and sawhorses, 50 lbs of flour, 20 Apple II computers, fake plastic rock from Home Depot, 100 CDs and jewel cases, tomato sauce, cheese pizza toppings???, 4 Eiderol recorders (+1 from Scott), 2 ride mowers, 1 car (pre-1994 make), 10 adult sized bean bag chairs

 

Looking at the source list we compiled and recompiled, wrote and rewrote the final edition is relatively tame. 2 ride mowers? tackled in the blink of an eye. 50 lbs of bread flour? Child’s play. 100 push mowers with bells? Well, 100 was an optimistic goal. Ultimately we were pleased with the turnout. It was quite beautiful to watch the three teams of ten parade across the field after an overture of ride mowers had finished their whirling dervish dance of large scale circles on the field.

 

Is it possible to program a successful series of events with such an odd assortment of goods and services? I am here to tell you that it is! in fact, for the most part, things went off without a hitch and we were fully able to supply everything our artist friends needed. Not to say that mistakes weren’t made. For example, the 10 adult-sized beanbag chairs I ordered for Chris Kallemeyer’s piece Music for Parking Garages arrived just in the nick of time. Unfortunately, said chairs arrived sans stuffing. Why anyone would choose to sell un-stuffed beanbag chairs is beyond me. It must be to dupe people like me into buying said stuffing.

 

 

The most exciting part about reviewing this list to me is that the most benign articles were often those used in the most interesting ways. One would assume that the 40-50 small watermelons listed at the top are for congenial community consumption. They were indeed consumed, but not until after they had been used for sound amplification in an electric melon amplification workshop. The rinds were then commemoratively pickled in The World of Pickling workshop. What better way to remember the events of those two weeks than with edible fair to take home and share? It seems like there’s a metaphor in there somewhere but I think I’m done with locating for much of anything for a while.

Machine on the Field: Opera Listens to You

  Last Friday, the usually vacant staircase outside of Gallery 4 was activated, perhaps for the first time ever, by Juliana Snapper’s work in progress “Opera Listens to You”. It was the first ever performance of the piece and I was lucky enough to witness the rehearsal process of Juliana Snapper and the Twin Cities […]

Opera luxuriates on the steps in a moment of repose during rehearsal.

 

Last Friday, the usually vacant staircase outside of Gallery 4 was activated, perhaps for the first time ever, by Juliana Snapper’s work in progress “Opera Listens to You”. It was the first ever performance of the piece and I was lucky enough to witness the rehearsal process of Juliana Snapper and the Twin Cities vocal ensemble Deviated Septet and observe the work’s development. I even had the privilege of being the test subject. The ensemble started knowing that they were to listen to the subject’s feelings and respond to them musically. In its fledgling stages, the chorus oscillated between responding to people through formal song structure that mutated based on mood, and a more abstract and guttural response. Through pragmatic experimentation, they eventually chose the latter and after a thorough listening session, the Operatic chorus would vocally reflect the subject’s feelings and problems, in what was for many, a moment of catharsis.

 

The chorus empathized not only sonically, but also physically. Members of the chorus were united beneath an airy, white parachute, a costume choice that evoked a less structured version of Merce Cunningham’s parachute dresses. The parachute-clad ensemble literally opened its arms to the participant, bending to let him/her into the center of the parachute where s/he was then enveloped by the walls that materialized as the chorus raised all 14 of its arms. This gesture created a visual and sonic barrier between the subject and the rest of the audience so that as the subject shared his/her/their thoughts and feelings with Opera, audience members could barely decipher the subject’s words. Indeed, we were not entirely sure whether or not we were supposed to hear the person’s musings, which created an intriguing voyeuristic tension. After the listening session was through, the chorus morphed to physically embody the subject’s feelings. Their theatrical gestures took on a sculptural quality when performed underneath the white parachute. The performance was at once able to blur the line between sculpture and performance as well as private and public.

Opera raises its arms and envelops me like a cocoon.

But these underlying tensions are only the technical aspects of what made the piece so compelling. I, for one, was touched by the piece’s sincerity and in admiration of the willingness of the subjects and the ensemble to make themselves vulnerable. Everyone involved was pure in intent and galvanized by the opportunity to create. At times, the interaction between the ensemble and the participant seemed to verge on the spiritual. The wonderful acoustics in the space created overtones, which evoked the acoustics of a place of worship, and the intense emotional reactions, ranging from laughter to tears, imbued the space with a kind of mysticism. These tenuous moments of transcendence were what gave the piece its true power.

 

At one point, after what appeared to be two particularly emotional sessions, the ensemble proposed a listening and vocalizing exercise with audience members. In an ethereal sweep of swooshing white parachute, the human sculpture floated down the steps and perched themselves at the bottom. Juliana introduced us to an exercise called “Teach Yourself to Fly” by the musician and composer Pauline Oliveros. In this exercise, everyone closes their eyes, finds their breath’s natural rhythm, and lets out a sustained note of their choosing, for the duration of their choosing. We sat on the stairs, breathing out of sync together, sometimes singing, sometimes listening, and slowly, we made music. It was void of traditional rhythmic structure, atonal and amorphous. And that is why it was so beautiful. We were able to listen and to sing however we felt like and, for one suspended moment, this united us. As the noise slowly tapered off, I opened my eyes feeling refreshed and centered. My boss leaned over and whispered to me, “I think we need to do more therapeutic art”.  And as usual, she’s right.

Machine on the Field: Echo Park Film Collective and the Green-Energy Filmmobile!

As part of Machine Project’s Artists in Residence Summer Jubilee, the LA based artists Collective invited their friends and neighbors the Echo Park Film Collective to stop by the Walker. EPFC is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to making film/video an equal and affordable resource for the community. They do this via five channels: a […]

As part of Machine Project’s Artists in Residence Summer Jubilee, the LA based artists Collective invited their friends and neighbors the Echo Park Film Collective to stop by the Walker. EPFC is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to making film/video an equal and affordable resource for the community. They do this via five channels:

  • a community microcinema and meeting space
  • free and nominal cost media arts education programs
  • a comprehensive small format film equipment and service department
  • a green-energy mobile cinema/film school
  • an international touring festival showcasing local established and emerging filmmakers

Their visit is just one stop on their cross-country tour in their green-energy mobile cinema and film school the Filmmobile! They will be hosting a workshop in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden Flatpack House from 3-6 on Thursday, July 28th followed by a film screening at 9PM that evening.

EPFC is stopping by Minneapolis on their tour across the vast and varried American landscape.

EPFC is stopping by Minneapolis on their tour across the vast and varried American landscape.

For More information check out  www.filmmobile.org  and www.echoparkfilmcenter.org
For exact show times and locations, follow us on Twitter @EPFCFilmmobile
Contact Paolo Davanzo and Lisa Marr by sending a message on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/echoparkfilmcenter
https://www.facebook.com/filmmobile

You can follow their trip across the US of A on their blog http://www.epfcfilmmobile.blogspot.com/.