Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Daffodillia I* .Feral patterns

Katie, at two, has few learned inhibitions. She runs to the electric piano and calls for Grand-daddy to join her on the bench. What? - but I do not do music, not even sing along. I do the visual stuff!

Well, what harm, she will not know the difference, so I slide in at the low end of the range and try to match her abandon. She zooms up and down on the high keys, twisting control knobs, while I pound away with both hands on the low notes. Then an interesting thing happens, I find a kind of motif, a repeating rhythm, and provide a structure beneath Katie`s wild melody. We have contact. One moment the piano switches to organ and I linger on my share of the keys and the next the keys are producing something vaguely like a flute: little fingers press buttons and twist controls. This feels suspiciously like when she and I collaborate in the studio, making paintings with acrylic paints, brushes and various scrapers. We are then and now making patterns out of colour and sound and the underlying process is the same.

Today, on the radio there was an interview with an Englishman who conducts workshops in ‘Feral choir music’ and I pricked up my ( feral) ears. People were being lead to use their whole voice range to produce a wider sound pallette, the kind of wild noise that Katie and I had been making. They howled and growled, cawed like crows and gradually produced... music. They had permission to try to make any sound, -to improvise. They were getting their whole voice back! Breaking through traditional barriers.

Two days ago I took a glass carafe and my camera out into the bright sunshine. I was remembering a poem by Wallace Stevens ( ‘Anecdote of the jar’) about how a jar, placed on a hilltop in Tennessee, organized the wild nature around it and I decided to experiment, to play, with a visual equivalent. A dandelion in the grass under the upturned carafe looked different from above than from the side, the distortions were different. I decide to rinse water in the jar to get some drops on the inside, - all those little prisms, I think, but stop dead with the jar still filled with water. I am about to go sideways in a most productive way.

I reach for a daffodil, pick it, pop it into the water, set the carafe on the outdoor table and start photographing, all within a minute, without conscious thought. I shoot from above, the side, and looking up to the flower outlined against the surface. All this bright yellow, reflecting against the sides, bold against the blurred blue sky. There is really something completely different and exciting happening within the water than in the dandelion photos of just moments before. What I am doing here and now is the same impulse when Katie and I were swept up in the piano or out in the studio with the paints. The same as that ‘Feral choir’. Making and finding patterns in unusual places. Improvising.

Later, at the computer, playing with the photographs, I begin to remember a book I had taken out of the library some months ago. A San Francisco photographer had made some beautiful images of ballet dancers deep in a swimming pool. They posed tippy toe, upside down, balanced on the shining surface of the pool, Beautiful, yes, but the ability to imagine making such an image was what must have impressed me at the time. A feral and most productive form of thought.

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