listening and being live

hey peeps,

here are some links to some live channels i’ve set up for the listening performance today (28th june).

it’s the first time i’ve done anything like this, so please forgive tech difficulties or straight-up operator errors that may occur.



Live streaming video by Ustream

but you can video call me


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listening and being thoughts


my exhibition is open at bus now and i’ve done two small performances there. and i feel OK about it so far.

after opening night and a two-hour intense performance amongst a packed room full of artists and art-lovin’ hipster-types i felt fantastic! i thought the work looked good and conveyed something of what i’m trying to say about the place of listening in public.

and then in the few days since, and after a second performance on friday – a four-hour durational task cut short due to pain and logistics – there’s been the ubiquitous doubt creeping in around the edges. it’s so boring –  the nagging question about whether the work says what you want, and the discovery that sometimes it says things you don’t want it to.

but, here are some of the little surprises, ideas and snippets of something-or-other that have been raised in the long hours of listening to my own dialogue, some of which might be interesting to you guys. and, if you’ve seen the show, i’d love to get your feedback.

things about listening i considered
what am i really listening to?
am i thinking things in order to have something to listen to?
listening to oneself is a frightening concept for many. under the guise of “not understanding”, many people are afraid of what the work asks them to do.

things about being i considered
if i wasn’t here, at this time, doing this work, could i exist?
being didactic and direct does not necessarily achieve understanding. and neither does being loose and aloof. can art ever purport to give understanding?
is listening the action between the nothing and being?

things about art and performance i have since considered

1. tino sehgal makes work in which movement and energy (including singing/sound) changes the dynamic of a space when a person enters it, creating a situation.
i noticed that when i am sitting and listening in the space, and someone enters the space, a situation is similarly created, in a subtracted way: stillness and the sound being absorbed by me changes the dynamic and the nature of the space and their relationship to it.

invariably people quieten themselves and become aware of their own sounds.

2. a lovely elderly painter came into the gallery the other day and whilst the work reminded him of happenings from 40 years ago, his criticism was that the work was too reliant on text. we discussed the lack of imagination in audience and the academic nature of art. and he suggested that artists who were doing those happenings in sydney all those years ago, were doing them because they found it the best form of expression.

i took it to mean that i am not performing these works because it’s the only way to express what needs to be said, but that i’m doing it this way because i’m responding to written work. ouch.
i can see his perspective, but i have to say it was nice, at midnight last night, sitting up in the bath and saying out loud ‘no, fuck you, listening IS the only way to talk about listening. and text ISN’T a substitute – it’s just the next best thing.

listening and being 24th june

i’ve posted the list of what i heard (recall only, not direct transcription) on the listening to the city blog, which i have started updating. i’ll upload some pics there too.

on tuesday 28th june, i’ll be doing an 8-hour performance at the gallery, between 7am and 3pm. if you’re in melbourne, you’re welcome to come and join in.  i’m also going to be setting up a video stream so that you can ‘come in’ to the gallery, even if you’re not physically there.

it will probably via skype and ustream.

keep an eye out and i’ll be spamming the networks on monday with the links.

sarah barber
jared harris

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how to do things with words

HTDTWW invitation

last friday night, my flatmate leigh and i put on an art event in our house: how to do things with words.

it started with my whinging about not really being able to find that many places to have exhibitions in perth, to which leigh replied: “why don’t you just have one here?”. of course!

so, we made it a joint effort, with all the works and activities about text and art.

the evening went a little something like this:

first light, last words
a wall-work by me which now lines our Victorian hallway. a series of six painted rectangles, mostly yellows with one blue which are symbolic of what i wake up to see each morning. i have a window above the doorway that my bed faces and each morrning, when i awake in a darkened room, all i can see is the refraction of the sunlight (or cloudy light) that comes in from the front door window.

underneath these ‘light’ works, is a string of words. these are the last words i heard before i fall asleep in the weeks leading up to the show:

first light last words

library of annotated books
a work benjamin forster and i did, in which we found and collected only books that were annotated – where people had underlined or made marks in an effort to remember, or determine important ideas or valuable points in a book. We rearranged leigh’s shelves in the loungeroom and the kitchen, making them into a library. having only books that were annotated surrounded the room with meaning and important information. none of those books were superfluous or ambivalent.

both of us made further notes about the notations on the wall. benjamin created a poem within the notation, by directing the reader to sections of each book. like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, except benjamin already chose it. and it’s more narrative than adventure. my notes grouped the books in which sites were described by sound, referred to texts of previous works and highlighted the meta-notation of two books. ie. notated books that contained imagery of notation (by bruce nauman and claes oldenburg).

12-hour reading club
lead by leigh, the 12-hour reading club chose somebody to read an excerpt, or a work, on the hour, every hour, for twelve hours. with general discussion session starting at 7 and our first solo reader was robert cook, who read some of roland barthes’ the fashion system. i kicked off the final session at 6am on saturday morning, reading the introduction from j.l. austin’s how to do things with words (see what we did there?) and in between was a variety of poetry, silliness and seriousness.

when each reading started, the room full of people was quiet, then there would be some questions from the ‘audience’, which would kickstart well-behaved discussion. which would then generally descend into hubub and chit chat for the rest of the hour, slowing down just in time for the next reading.

the evening was a great mix of formal, critical readings – those ones we always mean to read, but never quite have time – and hilarious pop-culutral humourous pieces, revealing more about us than we perhaps like. we had a loungeroom and kitchen full of people, with wine, chai, hot chocolate and leigh’s home-made soup. it was warm and cosy and a fantastic atmosphere.

there were waves of guest who arrived too – some who came right on time at 7pm, those who filtered through after dinner at about 9, then the late-comers – the young whippersnappers who turned up at midnight. one of them, joanna, stayed all the way until the end! what a champion!

during the evening’s proceedings, visitors were encouraged to create their own catalogues, using leigh’s collection of vintage typewriters. few did – more interested in the active discussion and chit chat about words than creating them. similarly, we set up a print station from which people could choose a section of annotation to have transcribed and given to them. it wasn’t so popular. but that’s OK – the excitement and camaraderie of the evening was fabulous enough as it was anyway.

HTDTWW running order

when leigh and i finally rose, after midday the next day, we chatted over a champions breakfast and were quite pleased with ourselves. we had a house full of intelligent, interested, erudite and amiable people who enjoyed each other’s company and had the opportunity to think and talk about interesting things for an evening, learning how to do things with words.

NOTE: there are more images coming. i just left them at the studio, it’s late and i really wanted to just post this tonight. stay tuned for illustration soon.

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in the black box

i don’t really have a good command of the language of performance. for those that do, please forgive my smushed-together, ham-fisted attempt at talking about some performances i’ve seen recently.

i haven’t had too much of a chance to see much static art in perth lately, as i seem to be surrounded by much more performance/music work happening. it has, actually, been a nice change to see movement/sound works, a chance to reacquaint myself with the nature of experience.

i did have a little realisation, that i’ll perhaps unpack on here soon, that as someone who works in conceptual/intervention/action works, i don’t really have a place that elevates my work to a professional level. the way that the gallery and the black box do for a lot of artists/performers [even though i have exhibitions too]. anyway, i’ll save that for another time.

Etica – Scale Variable 11.2 by tura new music

A three-part musical showcase including a solo flute piece and two small ensembles works – one with a mezzo soprano and both with a syncopated, non-traditional rhythm. 

The sensual nature of Brett Dean’s Demons flute piece was quite intense. i guess breathing heavily into an instrument for 10 minutes is pretty taxing on the body, but it was obvious to watch. and the piece was seemingly focused on broadening out the method of delivering the breath – a combination of traditional tone/pitch and atonal amplified breath-like sounds.

John AdamsChamber Symphony was a crazy and elaborate work that zipped across the Ensemble – no clear ‘section’ focus and a nutty rhythm. it’s little wonder that the percussionist was particularly focused on the conductor jon tooby for direction. I quite enjoyed the nuttiness of it all, even though i’m not trained in classical music at all. I found that it messed with my need for rhythm, in the way that improv jazz from the 80s did.

Sofia Gubaidulina‘s Hommage à T.S Eliot was not quite as frenetic, but certainly not a traditional ensemble piece. It was a smaller group of instruments, with a soprano (Penelope Reynolds). I didn’t enjoy this work quite as much, but it did prompt the spark of an idea, which i think will be quite interesting to see through. Admittedly, i spent much of that piece observing the piece (rather than properly listening to it), thinking about my idea. Sorry – i guess that’s not quite ettiquette.

Overall, I enjoyed the night. As you all know, though, i’m a bit of a lightweight and appreciate pretty much anything on a stage that’s a bit different.

Prime Cut by strut dance

Another three-part showcase, this time contemporary dance from WA. I’m even less versed in the canons of contemporary dance than I am classical/new music, so it might sound a bit short and sharp. Again, mea culpa.

Emma Sandall‘s Crossing Satie was a contemporary dance piece that I didn’t really like too much. Maybe i didn’t understand it. Even i could tell that the dancer was a ballerina and her body was just too intense and sinewy for the work. I always find it difficult to watch dance work that is solely about the body, because I feel like i’m just watching someone exercise. i would have liked a little more attention to costume, lighting, design, or something. I know, i’m a philistine.

And almost the same for Brooke Leeder‘s Iron or Gold. This time i did find some interesting dynamics between the dancers, and the gesture of being ‘stuck’ to each other. There were some sequences where the dancers would shimmy low across the stage that i found strangely compelling – in an amphibious, or even generative systems way. And they used large elastics hung from the ceiling, which were interesting in terms of the elastic and stuckness of the dancers’ dynamics. the music choice was pretty naff and the costumes were also super-naff [in fact, i would loved to have designed the whole thing for her], but – even in my ignorant state, i could see that there was something to work on.

Bianca Martin‘s Bikini Eye Short Show (dress to kill yourself) was, as a contrast, exactly what i have been craving in Australian culture for a while: something with a bit of political crunch. Sam Fox from Hydra Poesis called it agit-prop panto, which i thought was not as derogatory as it sounds. And it was fuckin’ ace. It was a critique of drunk aussie chicks, footballer jock mentality and the prone state of women in australia. all with a fanatstic sardonic wit and tongue in cheek cultural references (collingwood football club, surf-life saving club, aus-flag bikinis). The orgasm of a footy call by the mezzo soprano was sublime – the two dancers performing acts of clear sexuality in the kitchen and the bathroom were appalling and enthralling. And i thoroughly enjoyed the in-house protest of the national anthem our little band of three performed. It was all in the spirit of the evening, and I left feeling quite charged and excited by life again. Huzzah.

Later this week, i’m off to see Lily Hibberd‘s performance Take Me In at Fremantle Arts Centre. We went to see the work yesterday and i’m reserving final judgement (and writing about it) until after i’ve seen the performance it is associated with. The work is supposed to be able to stand on its own, without the need to see the performance, but i have a feeling that I can only make that call once i’ve seen it.

i’ve not ever seen Lily do performance or installation at all (only beautiful paintings) so i’m interested to see what the final outcome will be. If the staging, lighting, and seating are anything to go by, it will be an intimate and intense piece about incarceration, that hopefully plays with the relationship between audience and performer. But we’ll see. i’ll update you all later in the week.

image credits:  bianca martin bikini eye short show from the strut site

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a festival of lying beneath

May 3_24

so i’ve been having a 20-minute nap at 3:30 every day since the 3rd may.

big deal, you say. 
fair enough, i say.

but, the nap is actually a specific artwork – a response to the what lies beneath project as part of the tiny stadiums festival (which is a great festival) and finished today with a fabulous day of radness (or so i hear).

as part of their project, the students and staff from UOW Media Arts 101 designed a series of alarmtrack sounds for smartphones, inspired by trips to the steelworks at Port Kembla.

each day, i climbed up to a little ‘bed’ i’ve made on a landing in a workshop space here at cia. i slept for 20 minutes and woke up to that day’s track. you’ll see i’ve been keeping track of my response to the tracks-as-alarms in the comments here. and a few of them i’ve cross-posted over at their blog (just for a nice bit of rss feedback, yo).

now that the festival has come to an end, i thought i’d post the rest of my comments and some pics from the process here as a full post.

you’ll see that the process hasn’t been clean – it hasn’t worked like clockwork. which is great, because clockwork is pretty simple. co-ordinating a nap, songs, smartphone alarms and downloads into my day isn’t really. well, not as simple as clockwork.

but it has been an interesting process for a couple of reasons. 

process has become enjoyable again. i do love doing projects where i do a small thing for an extended period of time, setting up a cycle. 

sleeping is an interesting action to undertake within art. there are lots of artists that do it, and i have also, previously, but it still throws up fascinating results.

and what is the relationship between sound and sleep. we have a very different perception of sound in this altered space and alvin lucier has done some amazing works about the relationship between alpha wave brain patterns and sound.

i have been groggy every day. and each alarm fucks with my waking in a different way – some more than others. coming back down to work at my studio desk after an afternoon nap is also a strange action – my cheeks are all red and my eyes are a big blurry. instant work and sociality after sleep is not a usual process, so i end up feeling a bit discombobulated.

and there’s also this great feeling of sleeping with others. no, not in that way you pervs. i mean, i know that there are a bunch of other people all doing the project – we’re all sleeping and waking up to these crazy alarms. it’s almost the same as watching the FA Cup final and seeing on twitter that all your mates in the UK are watching it too – there’s this silly little feeling of ‘hands across the globe’ kinda thing. it’s not absolute truth, but it’s a nice feeling anyway.

and, it has also been a good opportunity to take 20 minutes to not think about art. to enforce the siesta way of thinking into my day. a much-needed meditation time, or something. a model that isn’t really used in art production – we just kill ourselves, or work crazy hours and come into the studio on the weekends. but rarely do we say ‘oh, i’m just going to switch off for 20 minutes’. 

well, i don’t anyway. until now.

even though i’ve been all the way across the country from the base of the project, it has been a chance to also show the ‘sharing’ model of art making. i can participate in a project, without having to be on site. that time, or action replication are the only points of connection. it’s something for me to think about too – in current/future projects: the place of reproduction in feeling connected to.

well done to all the media arts students who made some great alarms and to lucas for being the usual thinkin’ man he is. it’s been lovely to sleep with you all.

laying beneath

what lies beneath

what lies beneath

what lies beneath

May 11_12

May 10_09

May 9_05

May 8_12

May 7_0008

May 6_02

May 5_03

May 3_24

responding to laying beneath

ok, so i cocked up the order a bit. i napped, but didn’t really sleep. and i woke up to alex’s awake to a dream instead of snookie. but that’s ok, i’ll fix it up tomorrow.

i’m documenting it too. and today i looked like a puppy on a sheepskin rug. i need to work on it a bit.

but, the track itself was lovely and the tick-tock-tick-tock running through it was a reminder that i was late to a very important date, but with some kind of sloppy saggy clock that was squishing time.

03 May, 2011 16:11

oh dear, it’s getting worse. i didn’t nap today because there was a fun workshop using displaced vision and baby monitors.


ok, i’ll be back on track tomorrow. and i’ll post pics. this project is starting badly, isn’t it.

04 May, 2011 17:13

yay! today it worked. and the today’s track kinda fucked with my sense of space a little. i went into some weird other worldliness universe as i came to – the cricket=type sprinkle sounding electronica peppered my brain a little. it was great.
06 May, 2011 18:07

wow. i needed that sleep today. i awoke to jessicah haliday’s piece (which was supposed to be the day before..i’m so on this), but it was quite a lovely way to wake up. gradual filtering then quite intense electro wah wah wah. my brain felt quick speckled afterwards.
07 May, 2011 16:05

 08.05.11 i forgot to post about my wake-up, but it was so lovely. i actually wanted to keep lying there. funnily enough, i’m starting to wake up two minutes before the alarm goes off. turns out it doesn’t take much to reprogram sleep in the afternoon 🙂

holy crap! i woke up quickly this afternoon. three sharp bangs and i was up and stopped the alarm. i didn’t even listen to the rest of it (sorry jamie). and i was so flustered that i banged my head on one of the beams. excellent for waking up quickly. not so great for waking up and still feeling functional.
09 May, 2011 16:28

dammit. i didn’t properly sleep this afternoon. must have something to do with the coffee i had about an hour beforehand. which is a shame, because i quite liked the tick-tock-tocking of the alarm
10 May, 2011 16:00

google erased some of my comments in their fall-out
but i keep forgetting to write down what i think about the alarms too.

i haven’t been to india, but i imagine the sound of clinking bells and steel cutlery in the morning to sound a little like this. waking to the sound of running water is just mean 🙂


the truck reversing noise matched strangely with some crickets that were in the building. in fact i woke up when the crickets started, thinking it was the alarm. and then the alarm kicked in. it was a confusing afternoon that one.

today’s the last one was great – a slippery slope of something rolling down brought my mind rolling with it from subconscious to consciousness – like a bowling ball rolling back from the pins.

15 May, 2011 17:19

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