The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

May 7, 2002


performance text improvisation - New Jersey Institute of Technology -

(not satisfied with this; it lacks the structure of the others; we've just
arrived in new york; i was following suit; i was doing my best - thanks to
Chris Funkhouser who brought me - i was trying my hardest)


we're all waiting for a sign...

these are asteroids, camera fly-byes (fly-bies?) - fly bees... across
three-dimensional spaces created in Blender -

my work's concerned with language, sexuality, the virtual body and
subjectivity - all of these elements interacting online and off -

i'm concerned with what happens beneath the surface, the coding, the
psychoanalytics, the substances

i'm concerned about messes, tangles, messiness, entanglement ...

all of this work is tangled,confused - these images are from the
everglades. we went into them about 2-4 times a wekk or so, thats week,
that's that's - not wekk... i was interested in messiness and the way that
everything was both about desire - for us, obsessiveness, and at the same
time an impenetrable ecosystem - the longer we were there, the more we
understood about the images - about what we were seeing - the intersection
of varis various biomes....

all playing into notinos on notions of language 9had too much coffee *
just got in from miami) - this is mime movie - azure (myh partner) and I
mimed for the camera - working through what were the "usual" black box -
getting out of glass, swimming, up and down stairs, that sort of thing -
so that what's present is a kind of languaging, no?

a language of mime that's otherwise silent; this was getting poretty
boring to us so we sped things up and went to hell...

it fascinates me to be able to work withdifferent rates of movement/voice
in all of this - as if there are different worlds emerging.

early on we did some work emphasizing this with foofwa d'immobilite, who
had danced with merce cunningham - arranged a piece in which myh voice
triggered his traditional ballet movement to the point of exhaustion...

i've been fascinated by dance and its relation to desire, and a way to
think through the body without spoken language or discretge symbols - you
have the same difficulties here that you do with film "language" - what
constitutes a wor d or phoneme, how do0es tradition play out when
tradition is something that escapes discrete symbols?

on top of which dance is HARD - difficult to do - there's labor involved -
and there's labor in spoken language and written language and
production/distribution in every sense of the term....

so we were pushing for this - what amounted to a deconstruction of dance
through dance - turning dance (like everything else here) into a mess -

how does one create/approach a mess?

we were playhing charactgers that are avatars I use online - nikuko the
russian ballet dancer and doctor leopold konninger, a name that came to me
in a dream.

konninger comes out of Grosz's drawings of pre-war and otherwise Germany -

he has a monacle but I never wore one.

he and nikuko were involved together in a round-robin relationship - she
would dance for him and he would pay her - it was a continuous pirouette -
again the labor/money context is clear - here is a part of the sequence -
all of this earlier work, about a year ago or so, revolves around body and
flesh - issues of skin and interior -

in florida, the everglades dominated. there are few tourists at this
point; they're almost abandoned at times. you can walk in the middle of
the night through miles of swamp and no one is around at all. you'll find
insects and other fauna you've never seen before. at first you focus on
safety and alligators and snakes; then you begin to descend into the
layers, moving more and more into a submerged landscape almost out of J.G.
Ballard, a landscape of surreal dimensions. These bugs you see for example
- I have not been able to find them in any book at all - no one knows what
they are. This butterfly is the atala, an endangered species, extremely
rare - this goes on and on - from the fauna then back to the landscapes
themselves which change subtlely

the park is created from organisms - there are no geological features
readily visible; everything you see is alive, beneath your feet, or on
occasion overhead ..

we played obsessively out here, first filming ourselves in the
environment, merging sexuality, then trying to read the codes and then
finding the codes deeper and deeper, almost as if they were a series of
circular passages in a moo or mud...

eventallly we produced SEALS - based on ideograms referencing breath,
sexuality, circularity, exhaustion - these have become a foundation or
rather reference for the rest of the work -

in seals, there are five cameras; they're triggered by the sound. the man
writes on the woman, seals her it with a chop/hanko. the woman writes on
the man, filling his body with signs; the sign for negation just above the

the man writes on the woman, just as otherwise.

the woman seals the man.

but before the sealing: erasure, as the bodies flood each other, erasing
symbol/image simultaneously - again the relationship to desire and
language is obvious.

my work is idiotic; it covers the same ground over and over. but it's
clever in its use of masquerade and disguise, as if new things were being
constantly discovered.

On the left you just saw the death of a digital camera in the everglades
after swamping a canoe... the rest of the images are with another -

with quicktime, sound moves from foreground channel to foreground channel;
it can be set otherwise, but muddies...

on the left, black mangrove thicket in the northern everglades.

this is our ever-popular welcome to miami film.

(We hated miami.)

cattail swamp - which is useful for cleaning out pollutants as part of the
everglades reconstruction project...

as if we're on ecstasy or as if we're collapsing....

how does this fit together?

it doesn't - or rather it's a question of approaching things. I'm
intersted in that - how one approaches things, particuolarly things that
are a mess - messy relationships, messy bodies, messy environments - which
of course begs the question - one has to learn to listen to the begging -
one has to study it.. my work has moved in a strange way out of language.
it's always been at war with words, with thinking language through and
through, using shell accounts, unix/linux, and hundreds of editing/coding
tools - well dozens, anyway.

but faced with bodies, with desire, with tangles, how does language work -
without listening, and without the foreclosing that language of course
always implies? it's better not to name things for a while - particularly
in these difficult political times when names are useful for the raveling
of hatreds on a universal scale... these are images of a desiccated lake
in the everglades dry season - a tricolored heron hunting - a coastland
prairie here - black mangrove roots - crfab carapace, marsh hare, turkey
vulture, cypress dome -

the environment changes over a height of inches - the cypress dome is
partially submerged. the highest point in the everglades is four feet -
where you might have pinelands or hardwood hammocks. this is the cypress
dome, wandering through one. and these are exotic mating muscovie ducks
and we'll end with this I think? already a foreign intrustion (these
ducks) into the everglades, rendering everything problematic once again -


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