Monday, 21 September 2015

Breath Pulse Thread

Breath Pulse Thread

This has been such a preoccupation for me over the last months.

When we lose our ability to communicate and to understand the communication of others do we lose our selves? What makes us who we are? Do we need to have coherent thoughts and self reflection to be human or are random flickers of cognition enough for us to be human?
I had always thought of dementia as a slow un knitting of a human and the soul would be released when the unravelling meets the tight knot at the start of the thread. A quick tug to release the knot would dislodge the soul to continue its journey. But if a soul is knitted around then what is the fibre made of?
For some months I have been living with souls at both ends of the yarn. Two who came too early and needed to develop some stuffing and one who had stayed so long she didn’t know how to let go. Patterns of communication had become a preoccupation for me, watching for signs, feeling for changes, listening for changes of breath, involuntary body responses which could signal progress or decline. It has been like looking for signs of autumn and spring in the same place and time.
Only the new ones are staying to make the most of the spring. Faint weak mewings are becoming hearty cries and eyes that seemed unfocussed and unseeing are following movement and voices with emerging sureness. Where before machines communicated all their bodily functions, their voices are subtly training our minds to focus on new codes. Rhythm and routine are providing for them a faith in life, reinforced by soft caresses and kisses and soothing murmuring and songs that accompany every little interaction.

The anxious energy has been channelled into scribblings that I have finally been able to pick over and organise into a story of sorts. These will be available for viewing in an exhibition at 69 Smith st Gallery in Fitzroy  beginning Sept 30th, my first solo exhibition and quite a surprise to me.  The exhibition will run for 3 weeks until October 18th. See 69 Smith St Gallery on Facebook. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Put on your own oxygen mask first.

Wavy lines, beeps and buzzers, shrouds of blue light, wires threaded through cuffs and stickers , beep beep beep. I find myself making hand movements to prompt words to come into being. Nothing comes. The week has been physical, spiritual, emotional, mechanical, and no words mean anything. The beeps and lines and flickering numbers signify milestones and small physical gestures are read like runes. Threads pull hearts and minds together with a humming tension.

 The heart produces the strongest electro magnetic signal in the human body and can be sensed by other hearts.  Heart cells in a petri dish begin beating together in harmony when a critical mass is reached.

Hands and hand gestures become a new language a conduit for the heart signals.

 If presence is all that is needed to provide the critical mass, I’m yours. The story is ours to weave together later.

The heart says what the tongue cannot

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Knowledge and a Barrel of Monkeys

I have happily come to the conclusion that I am the most unsuccessful blogger in the bloggisphere and this opens a great door to freedom from scrutiny. You can look over my shoulder if you like and watch me while I am thinking but your continued non input is a companionable way for us to sit.

A journey began for me several weeks ago with a master course in Art Practice and Research with Ruth Hadlow. It came at a time when I was flailing with this incessant drive to be more visible and commercial which was like a loud  flapping noise stopping me from thinking. As soon as a pirouetting child absorbed in a fantasy of ballerinas and princesses feels the adult gaze, she also becomes her own audience and she constantly watches out of the corner of her eye for approval and adulation and loses the rhythm that prompted her dance.

Ruth’s course was a wonderful antidote for that but at the same time is difficult to describe. It was if anything, like being cloistered in a contemplative order for a week with five other earnest and gifted artists. Personal attributes and biographies were irrelevant to the tasks at hand. We talked of cabbages and kings, as my father used to say, when we sat long hours talking around the subject of his impending death without ever touching on it. Understanding was found in the sopped up tears and and pearls of wisdom  that could be retrieved from the tangled threads we wove around that tender wound. 

Knowledge is an obstacle to Knowledge.(Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddha Mind Buddha Body)

There were enlightening readings which were not about their content but more about their style. There were oddments from pockets along with skilfully made artifacts and emotionally charged talismans all rubbed up against each other which were available for us to meditate on and practice some of the thinking skills Ruth presented us with. Disparate objects hooked our attention and drew threads of passion and accumulated experiences from our brains as we fashioned our own interpretations of what it was we were dealing with.

Synchronicity and  serendipity seemed to magically influence our responses but in reality the objects that hooked our attention were simply touchstones for lived experiences that had resonated in our lives and were our driving forces.
 Our analysis involved unwrapping information embedded in art forms and objects and then using those techniques as a lense through which to approach an artistic task. 
Barnacles and hibiscus caught my eye
Sometimes language traps an idea like a bug in amber and prevents it from growing but it can also liberate ideas especially if it is circumspect and dances around the edges like children poking at a dead bird . Language can be direct and descriptive, it can list physical attributes, it can allude to romantic notions or emotional ideas elicited from an object, it can talk in circles around a subject without ever putting a finger on it. Language can approach an object and wander off into nostalgic musings and then attention can be drawn again to the object with new questions in the mind. Language tends to be a linear description, except if you are speaking in sign language, which can be a multidimensional expression of emotion and action attached simultaneously to information.

I could for instance tell you the boring fact that every morning (almost) I walk around the oval a minimum of 3 times to begin my day. I walk in an anticlockwise direction and expect to see certain individuals also taking their morning constitutional and it gives me a sense of solidarity with all those who are walking. Michael Moore the documentary maker started a movement about walking in solidarity with others who are walking. His simple act motivated thousands of people simultaneously around the globe. I used to feel a certain solidarity with women who were up feeding babies at 4am.
I could also represent my walk with a list

Flock of corellas lifting off,
 newly mown turf,
 long shafts of sunlight,
 silhouette of park bench,
  ant holes,
    lorikeet chatter,
     hot air balloons,
   empty drink bottle on the war memorial,
  drifts of  spent gum blossom,
     increasing numbers of coloured eucalypt leaves,
            old man peeing behind the cricket shed,
    golfers exuding early morning smugness,
  magpie keeping one metre distance with sideways glances,
 pinging kneecap,
      new hole dug on walking path by bored child,
 fallen sticks,
           streaking flash of an exuberant dog…etc

I could represent it mathematically
440metres x 3 = 1520 metres or 3 laps x 5mins= 15mins = time for 2 more laps or 2 laps x5 minutes + 1x slow lap because of THAT couple… don’t they know how slow they are. 78 breaths =I gm of fat processed and deleted.

with a reference;
The Superior vena-cava collects de-oxygenated blood to the heart aided by heart suction. This vein carries blood from left to right. Centrifugal force due to anticlockwise running helps this suction. If we run clockwise, the centrifugal force impedes suction. That is why, in olden days, health officers ensured that all carnival merry-go-rounds were run only in the anti-clockwise direction. As the heart is on the left side, for humans and animals, running anticlockwise makes the centrifugal force in the body to act from left to right. Whereas it is from right to left for clockwise running. Racing tracks, animal shows in circuses, bullock-drawn pelt on wheels, all mostly have only left turns. Stairways in temple towers have only left turns for going up. Clockwise running tires people.,5753,-1416,00.html

or with an image

the walk - Jo Quirk

I could of course share the work fragments from the course but it may not lead you any closer to understanding what it was. I was introduced to the art of Agnes Martin which corresponded to my own  drawing exploration and illustrated pulse and breath.

I was once again charmed by Ursula Le Guin’s writing and can now go back and explore where her femininst ideas resonate with me. Everything I see has taken on a new light 

A spoon has been poked into my head and the fragments have been stirred around. Just like the game Barrel of Monkeys, you can’t pull out things that weren’t there before but monkeys that come up may be in a different order.
 When you view art and it confuses you, revolts you, intrigues you or fails to engage you, instead of making a quality judgement about it, sit with it a while and think what did the artist have in the barrel to draw on. Describing what you see and what you feel using categorical lists, similes, poetry or other manners of communication may throw open revelations to you about why you have had a particular response. Your barrel of monkeys and the artist’s barrel of monkeys could have something in common after all.