The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 1, 2005

Abacus: The Pale

The abacus is generally divided into two sections - above and below the line. 
Below, each bead or token represents one unit. above, each token represents 
five units. Consider the units above indexical: the _position_ of the token 
represents either naught or five. But the units below are doubly coded: as 
ikonic, they not only represent one; they _are_ one. But in terms of position, 
the one is counted and accountable, or uncounted and unaccountable. Think on 

found this older bookmark file - most of the links are gone - there's a lot of 
net history here - might be of interest - alan

text from Miami University (Ohio) performance tonight:

Once We begin we march to our deaths yes yes we do or or do we do we march
to our death? Is our death collective? Universal? One or many? I'm sorry
I'm much better at sound than visual. No wait I meant to say much better
at ... not at writing ... I'm much better "not at writing." Wait, you have
to see this. But I'm not so good "at thinking." How does one do something
"at" writing or something "at" thinking? Excuse me, I'm cold; my clothes
are lost in a suitcase somewhere outside Chicago.You're early, we're
running tests here, although the performance won't be all that different.
If you look for about ten minutes you'll have had enough and then you can
leave and make room for the lines of people outside. Signed, "Henry
Potter." "Man tries to climb so high and then He falls and falls ALAS"
"Man likes to fire off his Thing ALAS" This is me playing a waltz. That
was me stopping a waltz. This is Anja Schmidt. This is me and Sandy
Baldwin discussing the phenomenological distinction between "analog and
digital." This is me and Sandy Baldwin flying through the air across the
river in New Jersey (from New York). "We can fly." I should tell you the
performance won't be any different from what you're seeing now, honestly.
I might be a bit more nervous, that's all. Graphics are graphics. Well,
anyway these were done around the time of the scandal over the Abu Gharayb
prison in Iraq. And some of the guards involved in that, they were from
West Virginia. And this was produced near the area where the guards, some
of them, were from. So it was natural for me to work with disturbed, torn
bodies - here's another one - you might have already seen this last night
- I'm supposed to start in six minutes but this is only forty seconds
long! I've used up all my material! FUCK! Maybe you'd like to hear a kid
screaming. This kid from West Virginia can do this! I can't. I don't know
how he does it. His family "doesn't encourage him." You just can't get
enough of screaming kids! Think positive, think MARTHA STEWART! (Have you
seen Wednesday's The Apprentice? I had to show this stuff instead. I don't
know who got kicked off. Pleas see me later and letme know.) - on the
right, one of the major scenes of car wrecks in Orange County California.
That curve sneaks up on you! Ok, me, age fourteen. I knew a girl. I "fell"
for her. More of the West Virginia work. Somewhere between avatars and
shamans and the torture at Abu Gharayb there lies a whole politics. I
can't tell you the politicxs "but I can tell you this/" These figures were
animated by using motion graphics - a motion graphic device - by messing
with the mapping of the sensors that are placed on the body - rearranging
them - just as figures are rearranged in torture - just as torture (and
Merce Cunningham for another example) pays little attention to the natural
attitudes of the body. So the body - with the motion sensor stuff - was
divided and splayed and redivied and the result is a remapping back on to
bodies that makes little sense but for a kind of emotional economy....
introduced, think of this as an introduction: MY NAME IS ALAN SONDHEIM AND
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WWELL, hmm, that's
enough of that... See, what happened, my baggage was lost by American
HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHHHHHHHHHHHZ) and so I'm working without my
PLENIPOTENTIARIES - part of what I'm doing, trying to control these images
- so they make some sort of sense - at times they seem to take over, take
control - I'm wll aware of the sexuality/politics of the images, I'm not
imagining things...I'm spoiling things, this is the grand finale and it's
hardly just started. Terrific, so much stuff to look at. I'll try and tell
yo what's here - the antenna movie in the upper left - searching for
places to set up low frequency radio antennas - they need to be away from
civilization - in the wilderness away from power lines - the recordings
you're hearing are fromm the radio somewhat modified - then the category
of natural/industrial - two films going through my images trying to find
those which fit (I think ) into oene or another - I've got two naturals
running, gotta tkae one out - Let's listen to the kids. Okay it's like
this, THE KIDS ARE OUR FUTURE> (hell, that's not me , that's the
medications talking!) - well .... This is my partner and me being a happy
family in Santa Ana Clifornia on a residency program going about our
business and singging and dancing like any happy family there's also
simulated sex of course but that's , ow I don't want to inerryot tg HELL
interrupt the bowing...
Ok picture this... it's three in the morning and there's a huge explosin
outside our loft in brooklyn and G comes runnin and in and says the water
mains blown and sure enoughs o so we run out and watched it fill sthe
subway and tear the street apart. Some of you saw this last night BUT NOT
well I'll dsappoint you again. This is all my work forthe past twelve
years. Richard Nixon put it beest "When the tough get going the good get
tough." Well, that's easy for me to say. What amazes me about the United
States at this point in time - is how the social safety net has been
totallyeliminated in the four or five years of the Bush administration. In
NY where we live (Brooklyn) there are suddenly dozens of homeless people
and the soup kitchens are overflowing and no one is giving to those
charities because the war in Iraq and Katrina absorbed the funds. So
anyway In Huntington beach california, there was this fourth of july
parade. and it was like the parades in the Soviet Union in the fities and
sixties, goose-stepping kids, lots of armor, lots of salutes to the
military - at least for me - i lived through too much of that periiod - it
was frightening - and it was all for the sake of oil - Huntington Beach
was at one point one of the largest producers of oil in the US - and these
grasshoppers - this oil rigs - carrry american flags on it as if it makes
everything all right - in Salt Lake City, dusk settles in, turns to night,
the landscape is fairly devoured within the city limits, there's a short
path, "nature path" through it, the Jordan River, it turned night there
-we saw a couple of foxes that managed to survive . these were dreams and
nightmares of figures and it took about two hours to make this - no this
one took an hour I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING (said GOD).normally at this point
I'd BE ON A ROOLLL and everything would be working perfectly hin harmony
that is, but now already things are a bit out of control. here's a bunch
of films all at once - can you tell which is moving? If you were seeing
this in a theater and it was a harry potter movie, you can be sure
soething really remarkably dramatic would b e going on. So hmmm... I'm not
sure how to deal with this - I think the figure on the right HAS
DIPTHERIA. Just watch. The woman above - hmmm.... she's got CHOLERA and is
writing (heh what a misprint) wrything writhing in her last moments of
life. Oh god I just looked to my right ALL OF YOU ARE STILL HERE... fuck,
I didn't think so many had come . If you arrived in the last three or four
minutes, you're lucky, you'll think this is all NEW. So you don't have to
see the DUMP MOVIE again, how idiotic! God I could just watch myself on
the screen forever and ever. Back to politics. The next video was shot on
the grunds of the World Trade Center and the soundtrack is modified from
WIFI signals in the area. Hold onto your hats! THIS I could WATCH FOREVER
- this is the inside of my brain..... Is there a doctor in the house
(doctor = sysadmin). At night, for exaple the night before last, I dreamed
of bodies like these. And this afternoon I was napping and I dreamed of an
explosion inside the equipment, that is, inside the euqipmetn, the digital
equipment, that I was using to make these images. And the explosion
happened inside me and the explosion destroyed me and all that was left
were these images but you needed to understand the protocols to make sense
of the images and maybe you didn't know the protocols or the protocols
were absent ... So if they were absent, you'd have these bits and pieces
of things, but they'd only be bits and pieces of flesh or something like
flesh - the secret codes - that make things move - these codes would be
gone they'd be gone gone they'd be gone machines - there'd be nothing left
- you wouldn't see the bits of flesh hanging off the avatars - the
animations which were nothing more than digital surfaces stapled LITERALLY
on human bodies, the screams would be covered up, by --- I really can't
think this through any longer, it's all there in the BOOK THE BIBLE.
At night, as I said, these things mix, they mix with me, they mix with the
political and the death of bodies - It seems, I'd think, you could tell
with of these figures on the left - which was real. But I'd have you
fooled.... men are so stupid... On the right, yet another scene from
Harrpy Power... On the left, yet another sceeen from Irak Warrior online.
I recognize the hour on hand...
the hour on hand... this is somewhere somewhere this is... coming towards
an end... The idea (according to Schelling - rather the Idea - is that
when you play beach volleyball you PLAY WITH SOMEONE. hitting into the
voice is a pure act of a very different sort of creation.... I think it's
this.. that I'm just fucked up, that I think if I can't do something well
at least I can do more of it - and that will make it better. But it just
gets preposterous....sometimes you just do this sttuff and it stops
THANK YOU FOR COMING. There will be some time for questions and answwer s

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