Letâ€™s Not Make A Song And Dance About It Experiences of space,
in isolation from
in relation to, time (& vice versa).
Invested in creating chance and change through the multiplicity of experience, this zine is an assemblage of visual and written collage. It offers readers layers of information to choose from through two unique formats: a 'dialogue collage' collated from interview material, and 'photographic collage' compiled from magazine cutouts and digital media. It has been a conscious decision to present information in a manner which captures and responds to the artistic spirit which it documents.
Table of Contents
Letâ€™s Not Make A Song And Dance About It Second Quarter, 2012
Editor Elysheva Elsass Artists Dan Weinstein Musician Eugenia Lim Visual Artist Yumi Umiumare Dancer
Gideon Sigfried Space, Time and Architecture, excerpt, 1941
Introduction Meet the artists Time as phrase. Dialogue collage with Dan Weinstein & Yumi Umiumare
The Sublime. A photographic observation by Elysheva Elsass
Space as subject. Dialogue collage with Dan Weinstein & Yumi Umiumare
The City Seed House by Max Szental
An Interview with Eugenia Lim about her Stay Home Sakoku art performance
Stay Home Sakoku screen grab mix
Gideon Sigfried Space, Time and Architecture â€œThe essence of space as it is conceived today is its many sidedness, the infinite potentiality for relations within it. Exhaustive description of an area from one point of reference is, accordingly, impossible; its character changes with the point from which it is viewed. In order to grasp the true nature of space the observer must project himself through it.â€?
Issuu Zero of 'Let’s Not Make A Song And Dance About It' features a "dialogue collage", made up of individual interviews with three artists from varying art practices – music, performance and visual art. While the three artist interviews were conducted separately, they have been fused together to form a response to experiences of space, in isolation from and in relation to, time – and vice versa. Hence, the "dialogue collage".
Let’s Not Make A Song And Dance About It
As Artists Eugenia Lim, Dan Weinstein and Yumi Umiumare recount their methodologies and discuss notions of their practice in response to the proposition of space-time and time-space structures, the reader is asked to consider the obvious and not-so-obvious links between art, space and time. According to Günter Nitschke the large western country follows a ‘time philosophy’, in which speed is an aspect of the time structured experience of space. He notes “since one is compelled to ‘waste’ time moving from A to B, one tries to shorten the lapses of ‘empty’ time, by compressing experiential space through speed and ease of movement.” Without obstruction to movement one can experience a controlled focus of time. Therefore time is gained by compressing space. Conversely space is created by the slowing down of time.
Nitschke also talks of the ‘eternity philosophy’, which focuses on rest as an aspect of the space structured experience of time. He states that since Japanese places tend to be very close to each other, the tendency is to expand space by increasing experiential time through the reduction of speed and the obstruction of movement. This publication investigates the different ways movement links space to time and time to space, in art practice. From soundscape to cyberspace and the built environment, the artists-in-dialogue position themselves within varying situations, and ultimately produce differing outcomes. What threads the three practices together is that they all remain within a framework of either a ‘space-time’ or ‘time-space’ structure. What sets them apart is their movement philosophy.
is a Tel-Aviv based, classically trained Musician who explores modern aspects of music, sound art and performance.
In our discussion Dan talks about the forming and fragmenting of his music. I remember visiting Dan one late afternoon after a swim in the salty Mediterranean Sea in Jaffa, Tel Aviv. As I near approached his apartment building I could hear the sounds of his cello playing. The warm music seeped through the French louver windows of his third floor apartment and penetrated the air, meeting the sounds of traffic and neighbors going about their business before darkness set in for the night. It seemed there were no boundaries to his music. It was difficult to distinguish where the sounds of the cello began and where they ended, as they thrummed through the air, colliding with the sounds of the street.
Yumi Umiumare is a Melbourne based dancer, choreographer and creator of Butoh cabaret and visceral dance theatre works. Yumi sheds light on the Butoh practice and explains the meaning of the relationship between internal and external landscapes shaped by time. I interviewed Yumi during a rehersal lunch break of DasSHOKU SHAKE! A dance production she was directing and performing in, alongside the Japanese theatre Group, GUMBO. She was gearing up for the opening of the show. We sat in the next room on a brown velvet couch. The space felt electric. Yumi ate her lunch and explained the meaning of the relationship between internal and external landscapes shaped by time. She started witht the example of expressing the internal feeling of digesting food that was eaten in a hurry.
Eugenia Lim is a Melbourne based Visual Artist who works across video, photo-media, installation and cross-disciplinary practice. Eugeniaâ€™s Stay Home Sakoku project sets an example for the theories and methodologies Yumi and Dan discuss. I had the pleasure of hearing about many of Eugeniaâ€™s experimental art projects, when I assisted her in her role as Editor of Assemble Papers. What struck me the most was the project in which she led an introverted performance-based inquiry into the extreme mindset of Hikikiomori; a Japanese phenomenon of people putting themselves in voluntary confinement after social trauma. For the duration of one week, Eugenia experienced opposing forces of space and time. As she remained physically confined to one 5mx5m room in West Space gallery, Melbourne, her only communication with the outside world was through the limitless web porthole. www.eugenialim.com
Dan, I am interested to know how time comes into play in your music. Do you think time forms music?
This goes without saying. The definition of music (and not just by me, by more important people; philosophers and musicians) is organising pictures or sounds in time. You have theoretical sounds and you put them in organised timeframes. This is called writing music. Then when you play it, you actually interpret the organisation. For example, if we are playing music by Bach, you have the organisation that he made already and the second element in this organisation, is time. You play with time. You decide how long or short the note will be and how long you are going to play. You question what the relationship will be between notes. You decide about spaces; about silences. Silences are also time. Silences have time directions.
Yumi, how is time affected by movement in Butoh?
time as phrase
In Butoh we do a lot of stillness where stillness is set in slow motion. We hold intensity inside like a holding of breath. The slow motion is not just a matter of stretching time but an intensification and deepening of timing. So Butoh stretches the time frame in a way. That’s why some people think Butoh is so slow and that nothing is happening.
Dan, I heard the Australian Art Orchestra play in an emerging improvisors series. I have to admit listening to them play was one of the strangest collisions of music I have ever heard. Do you think that they were considering time in their music?
I am sure they were. As the audience, you think that you are entering a pool of sound and you are just swimming and trying to understand what is happening and you see the relationships emerge but the musicians are actually thinking about time. Even in the subconscious when you improvise you try to converse with another instrument. For example, if he plays the piano and you play the cello and you want to have a conversation while improvising without the musical notes being predetermined before playing, you actually converse and when you converse you are always think about time. For example when I am talking with you, I have this contour – I am stopping and continuing. I am talking softly and loudly. I am phrasing. Phrasing is time. So when you improvise, actually, you do think a lot about time. You are surprised by the world of sounds that you discovered suddenly. Suddenly everything sounds very unexpected and it will never repeat itself again. Yumi, is the ‘space between’ an important part of Butoh?
Yes, in a way. The result is not the important aim but rather the between something. For example the space between thinking about what you are going to do, and doing it. The ending is also important. Sometimes in Butoh we say that the hands should finish in an open position. If you twist and hold the tension, the suspention and the gravity, this has more of a story of space going on.
The intangible only appears between light and darkness, space and time. It lacks a physical presence and is unable to be touched. It is only visible to the discerning viewer. Therefore it is left to them to decide what is real and what is imagined.
Yumi, can you recall an expreience of becoming aware of time and space?
space as subject
A good example is of the Melbourne University students that I was working with. We were moving quite freely and a month before their performance they became quite nervous because they didn’t have a script to learn yet. I realised then that creating work from structure is different to starting from an organic space. So one day I said to them, let’s just do a ten-minute improvisation. So we did it and they were totally organically moving and I was watching and then we stopped the music and I asked them, how long do you think you were dancing for? Everyone agreed on around fifteen minutes but it was actually a forty minute performance. They didn’t know that, that sense of time existed in their performance practice world. Time and space is very subjective but students do have to deal with structure. So I said see this is half of the show lengthwise but then if we are in it, sometimes the space inside is melted down. Again, this can be in a bad way – like if the performance is carried on for too long but this way concentrates the time so that you feel like it’s fifteen minutes but it’s actually forty minutes. Dan, what method do you use to improvise?
Dan, how do you think someone who is listening to your music might engage with the layers of sound? Do you think you give them opportunity to decide what sounds they hear? I do. I think that layering helps us find ourselves in the geography of music. When you hear one voice, especially in western civilisation’s ears – you have to remember that we are coming from a tradition of music that is different. The western music has a lot of polyphony – a lot of voices – it is very rich. There are many examples in the history of music in how music developed through the richness. So when you have many layers of sound that is playing at the same time the ear is more satisfied.
When I improvise, the method I use is the relationship between colour and time. Not colour like you know it. It is a musical colour. You have the musical term timbre. You have your sound of timbre and you have your friend’s sound of timbre, which is their particular sound. When you improvise you actually try to design a communal timbre, which I call colour. You have to design it and to move into it; to have it alive. You have to move inside it during some time for a while. The timbre is the technical definition of the character of sound.
The person is put into the pool of sound and in that way he can find himself in the geography – in the space, he can find himself better. So by using the technique of layering you actually help the listener, you give him more and you feel he is more into you then when you just play one note or one line.
Because I try to avoid this academic conversation, I use the word colour. I think that this word writes itself in our minds better. The difference between colour in eyes and sound in the ears is not that far apart. If we are saying colour to other people, I think people know what I mean. Everyone can relate to it. Colour is the sense of the sound. Sound has many senses. It has physical senses and theoretical senses.
I think Butoh has a lot of different philosophies and ways of exercising but if you talk about space, I think of the internal or external landscapes. In that sense the internal landscape could be quite subjective emotion.
I can design with musical phrase and colour. If you phrase it then you put this extra character into it. This character is according to my definitions, is the colour. So the timber is technical and colour is abstract. I use colour to put essence into music. For example you can say, ‘I like this yogurt’. Now convey a different meaning to this sentence. [I close my eyes, think of the sea and say, “I like this yogurt”]. Voilà. When you said this, I understood two meanings. This second meaning that you put into the sentence is the colour. Words don’t always have meaning so you put colour into the sounds so that you are meaning. So again sound changes every time you use it.
Yumi, in what ways do you think the Butoh practice facilitates expression in space?
Movement itself is not the purpose but the something inside that is changing. A lot of dancer’s movements are based on how to craft that shell of movement first but in the sense of space and time – the shell doesn’t matter. Ultimately it’s about what you have put from inside. For example, If you do the action of standing and lying down, standing and lying down, standing and lying down in a healthy environment, the movement itself doesn’t have a very strong significance but, if you are in your room for one month and you are doing these actions, then these movement will be transforming. Your internal landscape will change.
â€˜The City Seed Houseâ€™ is an exploration into the possibilities of parametric design. People flow data from the Tokyo cityscape determines the colour of the house. As the flow of people through the site changes over time, the house responds with changes in colour, The green orbs represents a person while the colour gradient ranges from red in close proximity to the person to blue for distance.
Stay Home Sakoku Project
Eugenia, what was your sense of time like in your week of confinement?
Eugenia, do you have any moments in mind when you had a sense of space and time through movement?
Having done the seven days my sense of time really shifted. Time was measured and fragmented according to chats and YouTube clips. So I had 3 minute or 30 second periods of time. I found my attention span was even shorter than it is now. If I was chatting online or watching a documentary, I would still be moving around or checking stuff. So it was totally fragmented.
I had moments when time did drag. Especially when there were repetitions in the movement. I would really notice it. I would kind of be hesitant or fight against it but the great thing about repetition is that it becomes meditative. When you keep on doing it, you eventually get over that frustration and you get into the mindset. I had that quite a lot.
Then I would have moments when I would literally have been up talking to people online from 10am till 2am, which for me is quite a different body clock to what I would usually do but I was allowing myself to go there. I wanted to experience it. So time was very elastic. Overall the week went really fast. The middle period was slow but then weirdly it passed quickly.
Then there were other times when I would get quite into a movement. Like I had this milk crate that evolved into a sculptural piece with all the wrappers from the items that people brought into me. I also made these embroidered plats of coloured thread that I tied to this milk crate. So then I would walk the crate and bounce the bouncy ball someone brought me. I did that quite a lot. I found that it helped me pass the time quickly and it kept me sane because I was moving and doing things.
Eugenia, did you feel your space was being imprinted by your movement? The space was changing everyday because of me being in it. Because I was moving things around and I had food and wrappers and my every day things with me. The exercises were definitely impacting on the space too. That was something I think I might have not been so conscious of while I was going in there but it became quite important. It was certainly very interesting once I left the space because I left it open for people to come in and look at it as an installation. On one level I was worried that they wouldn’t get much out of it but then on the second thought – and by talking to people who went in there as well – I realized there was a sense of presence and a sense that something happened there and I didn’t need to necessarily be there anymore. Maybe you can’t create that unless something has actually happened in there. Maybe you can. I don’t know but I wonder how it would have felt if I had never actually inhabited that space and then just installed it as if someone had. I just wonder how it would feel.
We [Yumi & Eugenia] did this exercise where we would just face the corner and all the movements would be about ‘hiki’ movements – like very confined and introverted. That was really interesting to go in there with a certain language of movements. It also made me think spatially about the cameras always being there, so I was aware of the physical space and also the virtual one at the same time. It was a very uncanny experience always knowing that the cameras are there and having to negotiate that as well as the movement. So Yumi would set me tasks where I would have to do specific movements and also navigate corners and return to one spot but by going around the boundary of the room so that I was always working with that. It would change everyday. Some were about very little movements while others were really physical – like running as fast as you can and putting something down, then talking to it. I guess I got to know that space really well in that sense; through those exercises.
Yumi, do you think Eugeniaâ€™s confinement might have affected her understanding of time and space? It depends what she felt. I intentionally gave her tasks to counterbalance her confinement; that were opposed to the melting of elusive time.
I gave her the 100 series, where she would have to do an action 100 times. Like she would have to knock on the door 100 times or go from one point to another 100 times.
We live in a society of timing and counting and where everything is punctuated of course so my intention for bringing that exercise to her was so that she could at least define space in time by counting things. It was to contrast her surrounding.
References stayhomesakoku.tumblr.com/page/2 Eugenia Lim Space, Time and Architecture, Gideon Sigfried 1941 Rites Of Passage To Places Of Stillness
An essay by GĂźnter Nitschke.
Special thanks to Freya Robinson.
Letâ€™s Not Make A Song And Dance About It