Instant crush on the works and words of artist/”personal trainer” Nina Cristante ! She develops a low key, intuitive, diy, fluid, elusive (as opposed to marketable), critical/common sense approach to well-being, diet, exercise… Part of her “frugal” Fitness Povero program (a take on the italian Arte Povera) is her “homeworks” collection of physical exercises videos, which she made in her bedroom and to which she also composed the music.
Today AI WEIWEI shuts down his exhibition in Copenhagen in protest at a new law that allows authorities to steal asylum seekers’ valuables as they enter Denmark. Meanwhile, those who couldn’t make it to his great exhibition in the Royal Academy of arts in London can now enjoy a full 360 visit of the show online – Julian Assange, for example, fellow political dissident and refugee still trapped inside the Ecuadorian embassy not far after years of a really stinky legal deadlock, is grateful and has a little foreword to share (check how he says hello).
Sur Librivox (Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain), lecture dans nos oreilles des souvenirs de La Commune par Louise Michel
Louise Michel (1830-1905) était une anarchiste française très active dans la Commune de Paris de 1871. Son livre “La Commune” écrit en 1898 raconte ce qui s’y passa durant cette période.
Louise Michel (1830-1905) was a french anarchist very active during the Paris Commune of 1871. Her book “La Commune” written in 1898 describes what happened in that event.
“A shower fell in the night and now dark clouds drift across the sky, occasionally sprinkling a fine film of rain. I stand under an apple-tree in blossom and I breathe. Not only the apple-tree but the grass round it glistens with moisture; words cannot describe the sweet fragrance that pervades the air. Inhaling as deeply as I can, the aroma invades my whole being; I breathe with my eyes open, I breathe with my eyes closed – I cannot say which gives me the greater pleasure.
This I believe, is the single most precious freedom that prison takes away from us: the freedom to breathe freely, as I now can. No food on earth, no wine, not even a woman’s kiss is sweeter to me than this air steeped in the fragrance of flowers, of moisture and freshness.
No matter that this is only a tiny garden, hemmed in by five storey houses like cages in a zoo. I cease to hear the motorcycles backfiring, the radios whining, the burble of loudspeakers. as long as there is fresh air to breathe under an apple-tree after a shower, we may survive a little longer.”
Freedom to Breathe
(Stories and Prose Poems)
In response to your question, “What is worth doing and what is worth having?”, I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it lay cause you must rest Vasco – otherwise you will become RESTLESS!
I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adapting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying. the ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our CONSCIENCE and must be heeded or else we will not survive.
When you are tired you must HAVE that feeling and you must act upon it sensibly – you MUST rest like the trees and the animals do. Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame ! This is a dangerous development. Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity-cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly-so cruel and meaningless-so utterly graceless- and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as it it were a virtue to do this. And of course Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied – they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.
So I gently urge you, Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat – learn to curl up and rest – feel your noble tiredness – learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow. I repeat: it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.
Mr. Curly xxx
“THIS IS WHY I DO QIGONG”
5 March 2015 – 17 May 2015 at Foundation For Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool
Originating from FACT’s extensive work within mental health and wellbeing, the exhibition explores the complex relationship between technology, society, and mental health.
“The three months of Spring,
they denote effusion and spreading.
Heaven and Earth together generate life;
the myriad beings flourish.
Go to rest later at night and rise early.
Move through the courtyards with long strides.
Dishevel the hair and relax the physical appearance,
thereby cause the mind to orient itself on life.
Give life and do not kill.
Give and do not take.
Reward and do not punish.
This is correspondence with the Qi of Spring and
it is the Way to nourish life.
Opposing it harms the liver.
In summer this causes changes to cold,
and there is little support for growth.”
From Huang Di nei jing su wen, Chapter 2: Comprehensive Discourse on Regulating the Spirit in accordance with the Qi of the Four seasons.
P. U. Unschuld annotated translation, University of California Press.
Richard Stallman on Love and Dance...
“To move in kindness with another person”
Nurture your hopes and make the most of the return of Spring with the writings of George Orwell on the “living creature with the most beautiful eyes” : Some thoughts on the common toad. Think and act for those who can’t be outside to enjoy it, because they are “ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison”.
“Certainly we ought to be discontented, we ought not simply to find out ways of making the best of a bad job, and yet if we kill all pleasure in the actual process of life, what sort of future are we preparing for ourselves? If a man cannot enjoy the return of spring, why should he be happy in a labour-saving Utopia? What will he do with the leisure that the machine will give him? I have always suspected that if our economic and political problems are ever really solved, life will become simpler instead of more complex, and that the sort of pleasure one gets from finding the first primrose will loom larger than the sort of pleasure one gets from eating an ice to the tune of a Wurlitzer. I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and — to return to my first instance — toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.
At any rate, spring is here, even in London N. 1, and they can’t stop you enjoying it. This is a satisfying reflection. How many a time have I stood watching the toads mating, or a pair of hares having a boxing match in the young corn, and thought of all the important persons who would stop me enjoying this if they could. But luckily they can’t. So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, spring is still spring. The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.”
What is the punishment of Tantalus ? A very intimate light that warms my night
What is suicide ? Slowly descending with the leisure of going up
What is Love ? A very quiet street that you only cross once
What is really hungry ? A silver ink pot filled with blood
What is nobility ? The wind coming from the woods
What is courage ? A church inside a nut
What is a head bump ? An expansion on the back of the head
What is reason ? A letter from far away
What is the night ? A very ancient text sang by a multitude of frogs
What is fate ? Love to its entire length
What is childhood ? An island that is fast emerging
What is painting ? An immense Turkish bath
What is the monarchy ? A bag of stones asking to be carried
What are we doing ? The day
What do we expect ? Your hope
Who is your mother ? A beggar who waits until it’s dark to laugh
What are we ? The eyes of a bird who died travelling
Who was Mario Cesariny ? A distracted oracle who never told the truth
Where did he live ? In the lap of a statue made of flour
Why did he live ? Because there were those who wanted to kill him
Artwork Bruno Borges / Oficina Arara
Artist Theo Jansen makes these pacific beasts out of electric tubes, bamboo sticks, cables, they walk propelled by the wind on the beach of La Hague, they evolve year after year, and he calls them I.A.
Way more enchanting than Boston Dynamics beasts.
FYI: A Strandbeest + documentation are currently exhibited at Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
On his work and prison : “Incarceration marked a moment of personal crisis for me, providing an encounter with difference and generating desire and fear, enlightenment and profound disquiet. Being confined to a cell and mediated existence, all measure within prison seems to collapse, leaving only time to reflect. This reflection was the catalyst for significant shifts in my thinking that ultimately facilitated my body of work. The work I created in prison references the tradition of topographical reliquary, which links an object’s meaning to the sacred importance of its originating place. Interpreted through Robert Smithson’s concept of the non-site, the sheets, soaps, and playing cards correspond to Hegel’s non-being and therefore effectively represent anti-reliquaries or reliquaries from Hell. My temporary effacement from the world resulted in a limbo state between being and non-being, where my only interaction with the outside world was mediated and therefore virtual. Ironically, left with only myself, my life-long questions of self-worth and identity were finally answered. I am an artist. This sense of self fortified my identity and through my art I “escaped” prison.
My large-scale project, Apokaluptein:16389067 was conceived and executed within federal prison. The title references the Greek origin of the word apocalypse meaning to ‘uncover, reveal;’ an event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale; the numbers reference my Federal Bureau of Prisons identification number. My process involved smuggling contraband works through the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Postal Service, piece by piece, over a period of six years, resulting in a forced Exquisite Corpse with myself. Apokaluptein:16389067 is a series of 39 disembodied prison sheets sutured together, making up a collective installation of dimensions as vast as the history and timeline represented over my seventy-month absence. I used hair gel as a transfer medium and a plastic spoon hand-press to transfer images I collected from The New York Times. The fragmented images, removed from narrative sources are inverted and effaced from their supports. I then blended the images together through hand-drawn extensions in color pencil. The interior of the prison revealed, its skin defaced and simultaneously veiled with the transferred images of the daily reality it denies.
Purgatory is a series of 300 carved prison-issued soaps confined within used prison playing cards. Using a hand-printing technique, I transferred the New York Times portrait heads onto wet soap fragments, leaving inverse traces of the appropriated image. I began interpreting these “offender” portraits or decapitated heads as “ink-scaffolds,” the printed counterpart of the Foucauldian scaffold. I concealed the resulting soaps within used decks of playing cards. I sharpened the interior connector of a AAA battery on the cement floor of my prison cell as a tool to cut window-like structures into each card which were then adhered together using toothpaste and soap shavings to form containers to conceal the printed soaps. The playing card containers with altered suits and face cards expand the boundaries of chance to form new poetic constellations outside the systematic rules of the game.
>> JESSE KRIMES
To draw to take the time to look at things, to perceive and to design, to be delicate, to sense beauty, to relate to it, to rejuvenate one’s mind after the ravages of emergency, or boredom, or blackness, to save one’s eyes.
“5. Everything that you can see in the world around you, presents itself to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colors variously shaded. Some of these patches of color have an appearance of lines or texture within them, as a piece of cloth or silk has of threads, or an animal’s skin shows texture of hairs: but whether this be the case or not, the first broad aspect of the thing is that of a patch of some definite color; and the first thing to be learned is, how to produce extents of smooth color, without texture.”
“21. You will see that all the boughs of the tree are dark against the sky. Consider them as so many dark rivers, to be laid down in a map with absolute accuracy; and, without the least thought about the roundness of the stems, map them all out in flat shade, scrawling them in with pencil, just as you did the limbs of your letters; then correct and alter them, rubbing out and out again, never minding how much your paper is dirtied (only not destroying its surface), until every bough is exactly, or as near as your utmost power can bring it, right in curvature and in thickness. Look at the white interstices between them with as much scrupulousness as if they were little estates which you had to survey, and draw maps of, for some important lawsuit, involving heavy penalties if you cut the least bit of a corner off any of them, or gave the hedge anywhere too deep a curve; and try continually to fancy the whole tree nothing but a flat ramification on a white ground. Do not take any trouble about the little twigs, which look like a confused network or mist; leave them all out, drawing only the main branches as far as you can see them distinctly, your object at present being not to draw a tree, but to learn how to do so. (…)”
“22. You cannot do too many studies of this kind: every one will give you some new notion about trees. But when you are tired of tree boughs, take any forms whatever which are drawn in flat color, one upon another; as patterns on any kind of cloth, or flat china (tiles, for instance), executed in two colors only; and practice drawing them of the right shape and size by the eye, and filling them in with shade of the depth required.”
The I Ching hexagram associated to the month of February is hexagram 11, Tai – Harmony, Peace, Rejuvenation, Prosperity. It is composed of the trigram Qian -the Sky, the Creative- below, and the trigram Kun -Earth, the Receptive- on top. Qian’s energy is ascendant, Kun’s energy is descendant. In this configuration they meet and from their encounter the 10 000 things will be born. Spring is coming, “The small departs, the great approaches”.
There are 12 months in the Chinese calendar each divided into 2 parts. The first 15 days are called Jie Qi and the last 15 days Zhong Qi. The 24 sections of the year have their importance in agriculture, as well as in health and care, following the cycles of nature. The first weeks of February are called Li Chun, Beginning of Spring.Egene Koo
and other ancient trees in the series Portraits of Time, by Beth Noon
They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
So I remember every face
Of every man who put me here
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now any day now
I shall be released
They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall
So I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere inside these walls
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now any day now
I shall be released
Yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
Man who swears he’s not to blame
All day long I hear him hollering so loud
Just crying out that he’s not to blame
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now any day now
I shall be released
Petite “présentation” de l’enfer pavé de bonnes intentions Google, Google nous veut du bien, dans le journal LUNDI MATIN n°7 du 19 Janvier.
La caméra peut être une arme de prise de conscience et de résistance. Pendant la révolution égyptienne, réalisateurs et cinéastes égyptiens ont essayé, chacun à leur manière, d’agir, de témoigner, de peser sur ce long et complexe processus de transformation. Dans un contexte chaotique, explosif et volatil, comment donner du sens à tous ces bouleversements ? A travers leurs choix et leurs témoignages, ce film est une radiographie d’une société au cœur de la tempête, un état des lieux des défis et des dilemmes qui la traversent. Ceux qui filment essayent de comprendre, posent un diagnostic, proposent aussi des pistes pour s’en sortir… et surtout rester engagés, malgré les difficultés.
Monty Python’s Funniest Joke in the World – Killer
“C’était une construction intérieure, une base de repli, une secrète terre d’accueil, mais aussi quelque chose d’offensif, qui participait au complot à mains nues de quelques individus contre l’univers capitaliste et contre ses ignominies sans nombre.”
Antoine Volodine, Le post-exostisme en dix leçons, leçon onze.
Étendues infinies indéterminées, guerres en boucles, déserteurs botanistes, mémés communistes increvables, espaces-temps intermédiaires, poches de résistance mentales, tactiques révolutionnaires chamaniques, animaux en errance karmique, cryptographie surréaliste, amitiés instinctives, poésie de combat, ordres de missions hallucinés… Voici quelques composés de la littérature “complot à mains nues (…) contre l’univers capitaliste” menée en une quarantaine de livres par l’auteur connu sous le pseudonyme Antoine Volodine et sa bande d’hétéronymes (Lutz Bassman, Elli Kronauer, Manuela Draeger…) comme autant de dissidents à l’ordre mondial inhumain, ainsi que des “amies” comme Maria Soudaieva, dont le fantastique Slogans, qu’il a traduit du russe au français, pourrait bien être une mine de pass-phrases imprenables. Coup de coeur aussi pour les livres de Manuela Draeger à destination du jeune public, à l’école des loisirs, et surtout pour Onze Rêves de Suie.
Son dernier roman Terminus Radieux a reçu cette année le prix Médicis de la littérature, ce qui signifie que pour une fois, on peut s’acheter un excellent livre en speed à la gare, et se ressourcer âme, coeur, imaginaire, action, en base de repli, secrète terre d’accueil. En littérature amie.
“If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.
When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:
- First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
- Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
- Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
- Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
- Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
- Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
- Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
- Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
- Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
- Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
- Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.
Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.”
George Orwell, Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.
Holly Herndon says:
For my debut album Movement, I communicated an intimacy with my laptop. It is my instrument, memory, and window to most people that I love. It is my Home.
The ongoing NSA revelations have fundamentally changed this relationship. I entrusted so much in my device. To learn this intimacy had been compromised felt like a grand betrayal. Is everything done privately on my laptop to be considered a public performance?
The NSA spying on our network may have been tacitly known from reports going back as far as 2002, but the aesthetics of this surveillance were not so known. Code names, acronyms, icons and graphics from a shadow world designed to never be publicly exposed.
For “Home,” we created a data rain of these NSA symbols.
“Only rarely is there an opportunity to participate in a molecular happening. You’re going to have that opportunity, for this film attempts to portray symbolically yet in a dynamic and joyful way one of nature’s fundamental processes: The linking together of amino acids to form a protein”.
This is Protein synthesis: an epic on the cellular level, from Stanford department of chemistry, 1971.
Watch the Ribosomes, “depicted in the film as tumbling, rolling, clusters of bodies, amorphous by themselves but organized and structured when in the act of translating a message”
This little gift was found reading WHEN GOOGLE MET WIKILEAKS, by Julian Assange.
ONE of the many gems with which his interview with Google’s Eric Schmidt & crew is paved, including the fantastic footnotes. Educational, empowering, curious, challenging, frightening but also invigorating and heart-warming… BRILLIANT, and not only for tech experts.
To paraphrase JA last words in ” The banality of ‘don’t be evil’ : “ WGMW is “essential reading for anyone caught up in the struggle for the future, in view in one simple imperative: KNOW YOUR FRIENDS”
Feeling grateful 🙂
“Sadly reduced by hype machines to a pioneer of “lesbian cinema” (whatever that means), Barbara Hammer has a long career in creative and critical filmmaking, constantly trying to find new narrative forms and technical possibilities to offer the world a personal view on such themes as physical disease, media, gender, sexuality, age or health-care. In her 1990 short Sanctus, the main point seems to be the time-honored dictum of the body as a temple, or, as the author put it, of a body in need of skeletal protection from a corrupting and diseasing environment. Hammer used old x-ray footage, rearranged, colored and orchestrated through optical printing, in order to reveal hidden bodily movements and rhythms in its constant juxtaposition.” — Sound of Eye
Portuguese film sound engineer, producer and director Joaquim Pinto has been living with HIV and Hepatitis C for years and lost quite a few of his friends and collaborators to the virus along the way.
Beaten but not down, blurred yet bright and sharp, he offers a rare testimony with E agora ? Lembra-me a personal diary he filmed over a year as he was undergoing experimental drug testing in Madrid. His collections and recollections though, are mostly set in and outside the home he shares with his long love and husband Nuno (also infected) in a dry luminous countryside of Portugal.
As the four seasons go round we are invited to feel along the repercussions of the clinical trials, but mostly the passing of time, with its very own pace, its redundancies big and small, challenging will, challenging life, the questions and, eventually, the answers only time can bring… The movie opens with a shot of a slug crossing the screen on a dead leaf: You could not accelerate certain processes even if you would, so bear with them. The trips to Madrid, transiting through frantic airports, seem all the more brutal in that perspective (Why do we do that to ourselves ? is among the questions that are raised).
While the announced intention of the film is to record and evaluate the effects of the drugs tested in Madrid (noting side effects you’ll never read about in a drug leaflet) it soon appears that the subject is not so much that but rather other forms and ingredients of care, which although not mentioned as such (and maybe they shouldn’t!) become evaluated in parallel, much more positively. Pretty honestly or “sem merda” as some friends around me have put it.
So yes, honestly : At the end of the day what is really keeping Joaquim, Nuno, us, alive through hardships ?
Here are some suggestions from the film:
Love, definitely. Partnerships, setting the preservation of (a good) life and care of one another as priorities… Abundance of fresh air and sunlight, a connection with nature, mediated by animals, through farming, all of which help keep regular (and circadian) cycles of work, play, rest… Being responsible for someone else, caring for them, a lover, an old dog, a young tree threatened by drought and wildfires… A connection with past generations, some sort of historical inscription in the community of mankind and on the tree of life on earth (“we are not special, just recent”)… Peaceful renunciations to what is no longer suited, all the while reaffirming commitments to what matters most… Solidarity, sharing information, experiences, expression of the voices of the weak… A relative autonomy and self-sufficiency, carefully balancing the dependencies to absurd and adverse economical and healthcare systems… Critical thinking, intellectual curiosity… Creativity, art… Cinema..? As a critic notes “this hypnotic video essay eases the discomforts of the flesh with the comforts of moviemaking” and “the film repeatedly erases the neutral hues of sickness with the lush vibrancy of nature.” So it does.
In love with Music For Heart And Breath, Richard Reed Parry‘s first classical composition album that came out a couple of weeks ago.
What it is, in his words :
“Very soft, very quiet music, played utterly in synch with the heart rates and breathing rates of the musicians performing it. Every note you hear is either in synch with the heartbeat of the person playing it, the breathing of the person (or one of the surrounding persons) playing it. So what you hear when this music plays is played precisely in time with someone’s quiet, internal rhythms. Brought to musical life by a handful of different ensembles.”
I feel this album is a gift for bodyworkers and caregivers. I also work with a stethoscope in massage sometimes -to amplify and interact with body sounds in real time- and I have been working with a musician in massage-music composition. To me, Music for Heart and Breath is both a soulmate, an inspiration, and a great auxiliary for working and teaching. I play it in individual massage sessions and I sometimes play it in my workshops, where it works as a great (sensational) auxiliary for learning (feeling) how to carefully approach and massage a person, body and mind.
Like it is said in this Pitchfork review of the album:
“There is a palpable aliveness to the performance that makes the six pieces, written for different configurations, feel like a guided meditation. This is body music, unquestionably, and by the end of the album the music’s subtle internal rhythms have reconfigured your own.”
“There are no fixed points, just motion along a spectrum, and we never know exactly where we are. But the uncertainty, familiar as it is, is oddly soothing. “
Milford Graves is a free jazz drummer and percussionist, music teacher, therapist, acupuncturist…
Intrigued by the powerful effects of music on body and mind, he started to explore the beats and harmonics of human hearts, to the point where he could detect pathological anomalies listening to the songs of people’s hearts, and even fix them with his computer programs and custom made beats.
He was, also, going back to the source code for music…
Find more about him in a series of short interviews on Tom Hall web show ImprovLive365.
There, from his studio in Queens Milford Graves talks about human rhythm and sounds, the healing potentials of sonic vibrations, cardio-pathology, metronomic “machine” time versus biological variability in time, percussionist and acupuncturist virtuosity, focus, innovation, creativity, yin yang theory… Deep !
Read article Finding Healing Music in the Heart, by Corey Kilgannon, NYT, 2004
“Mr. Graves, 63, a jazz drummer who made his mark in the 1960’s with avant-garde musicians like Albert Ayler, Paul Bley and Sonny Sharrock, performs only occasionally now. He spends about half his week teaching music healing and jazz improvisation classes at Bennington College in Vermont, where he has been a professor for 31 years. He spends much of the rest of his week in his basement researching the relationship between music and the human heart.
After descending the psychedelic-painted stairway into his laboratory, visitors are faced with a collection of drums from around the world, surrounding a network of computers. Wooden African idols spiked with nails rub up against medical anatomical models. Amid a vast inventory of herbs, roots and plant extracts sits an old wooden recliner equipped with four electronic stethoscopes connected to computers displaying intricate electrocardiogram readouts.”
PSF: What have you found out with different ailments and responses in your work and research?
Some of the things are very standard, like the dynamics of loud and soft. Sudden explosive loud sounds would cause a very strong skin galvanic response- it would be very stresssful on the system.
At the college, we had people who had cardiac irregularities or arrhythmias. They were diagonised as non-organic arrhythmias- people couldn’t really get any help with using medication or trying to change their lifestyles. So I would co-ordinate some music that would be considering ‘free jazz,’ entirely spontaneous and improvised. Some of it was done live but some of it was pre-recorded. We would play these things and we found that with one particular person, his heart rhythm started to synchronize with what we had performed on the tape. Then we played live and we steadied the rhythm into a regular heart rhythm and his own heartbeat stopped being arrhythmic and then it co-ordinated with us. That was very interesting. Some people don’t believe this but I have all the documents about it- electrocardiograms and a tape with one track having our pre-recorded music and on the other track we actually had this person’s heart rhythm and you could see how it synch’s right in.
Trio A (The Mind is a Muscle, part I), Yvonne Rainer, 1966
“[Trio A] would be about a kind of pacing where a pose is never struck. No sooner had the body arrived at the desired position than it would go immediately into the next move, not through momentum but through a very prosaic going on. And there would be different moves-getting down on the floor, getting up. There would be this pedestrian dynamic that would suffuse and connect the whole thing. So the whole thing, though it would be composed of these fragments of movement unrelated both kinetically and positionally or shapewise, would look as though it were one long phrase. There would be no dramatic changes like leaps. There was a kind of folky step that had a rhythm to it and I worked a long time to get the syncopation out of it. In a way the opening da, da, da, da of the arms set the rhythm of the whole thing. There were exceptions to this rule, but this began to be the overall structure rhythmically and dynamically of this solo.”
-Yvonne Rainer, interview with Lyn Blumenthal, 1984, reprinted in Rainer, “A Woman Who . . . Essays, Interviews, Scripts” (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), p. 64
Taking media analyst Marshall Mc Luhan’s famous theoretical pun that “the medium is the massage” almost to the letter as a staring point, chinese artist Yin Aiwen designs a performance-installation in which massage plays a central part, until the initial statement appears to be reversed, and “the massage” re-installs itself as “the medium”. A true human massage ultimately appears as a possible antidote to the panoply of psycho-physical pains quite willingly (=unconsciously?) inflicted to oneself by the modern human, otherwise “massaged” into a disembodied alienation by the soft, gentle, falsely-caring mass media machinery.
I as a masseuse happen to think highly about massage, and this work strikes me as interesting. I may have a few hesitations about the piece (mostly about the dispositive), still I feel it is conveying important, inspiring, and potentially emancipative material.
The dispositive is as follow: Yin Aiwen gives a 15 minutes a chinese medical massage to a participant installed in a massage chair, at the headset of which is installed a tablet playing a video-montage of clips from mass culture. A voice over reads, in a more or less relaxing, therapeutical tone, a text exploring the relationship between media, machines (computers specifically) and the receiver’s body, their pain, their vitality, all along questioning them, engaging them in instructive feedback loops with their sensations. A small audience is invited to watch the session.
It is almost a clever piece of reverse engineering, Yin Aiwen giving a massage and deducing, from the informations she collects at her expert fingertips, the design of the “end product”, the end product here being the human being in the capitalist world… So that she could then re-build this human being, re-model them, correct them, free them from this socio-economical-mechanical blocking ?
I have not assisted to the performance myself, so my judgment and impressions are of course limited. I only watched the video documentation, which I find was already quite an experience, and I strongly advise you to watch it ! As for the text, for which I post below a full transcript, it contains some gems and, in the light of my own experience, it speaks a lot of truth, however in somewhat dark aspects of it.
In the end, the piece altogether appears to be slightly too demonstrative, still too spectacular to my taste, authoritarian and somewhat cruel for the receiver (!) but Yin Aiwen completely admits it, for it serves her purpose : “The harsh, ruthless massage has no interest in your pleasure”, she writes. It gets the “message”/”massage” across…
However I believe this “message” is in essence one that emerges from massage during a private session. Indeed, a good massage will “inform” you of your condition. Here and now, and before, and even possibly give you an insight on after. It will move and question those layers of histories embedded in your flesh, sometimes it will allow images, memories, dreams, fantasies, to flash behind your eyelids, without a video being necessary. It will present to your consciousness, at your own pace, material very personal, possibly life improving; hints, cues, directions given by your senses to finding yourself again, connecting with yourself so that you be again the one “living” rather than the one being “operated” by. This way of the massage is known, and listened to, by many massage artists, practicians and therapists.This piece speaks to me of the substance of which good massage sessions are made of.
Find out more about the Massage is the medium by Yin Aiwen here.