Sunday, November 16, 2008

You'll Always Come Back; An Album
























"Presented to Sallie Dutton
by her Husband,
Xmas, 1896"

So reads the inscription on the title page of my grandmother's photograph album. The cover is blue velvet, with a design, now worn of its gilt, of flowers, butterflies, and a dragonfly sun. For the most part the photographs, of the Cundiffs primarily, (her family), had fallen out of the fancy decorated pages. Now they're in a stack. There's no way to figure out who was where. But for today, I'm not looking at it to find chronology, narrative, identity, or relationships between characters - I'm framing my response too, responding mainly to the album as a source of design.






















The designs are not only worn by time, but also by my digital processing. This is sketchbook work, so I haven't sweated the details ~ "low resolution" as they say, so little is very resolved here. I'm just poking around, wondering how these patterns and shapes appear once you're the size of the people inside the frames. What would it be like to paint one of these things tall enough to step through?



The combination of plant forms and geometric designs gives an immediate impression of time past. Fanciful and conventional at once ~ I'm trying to see the connection between this kind of work and my own; could I bring myself to put a twining stem together with a geometric medallion? I wonder why my grandfather chose this album as a gift, surely he thought it looked good - but maybe she told him what she wanted...



Once the scale of the design elements is in flux, their fantastical qualities come into relief, at least to my eyes. I think I could reconstruct the drawing of the dragonfly from the tiny veined wingtip that remains, but as it is, it looks like a velvet fossil. Perhaps the best way for me to connect with what I'm seeing in this album is consider these images as sketches for sets.














































































I've thought of having Voice X (the orisa of crossroads) be a digital DJ who could make, via digital projections, any image in the bank appear on any wall of The Old House at any scale ~ of having a holographic spring in the center of the playing space, pouring out images of the past in their most contemporary form. Would that hodge-podge mixture be an equivalent to the design of this album - with digital disintegration standing in for decay?



Here's one of the chronomaps I'm using. The red border encloses Pete's lifetime. The 4 colored lines moving through the measures of decades are the event lines for the lives of my grandparents, Pete and Charles. I've placed an acorn on the time-cell of the album's presentation ~ Xmas 1896, 3 years after my grandparents got married.

17 comments:

SBD said...

How lovely to come back and read the blog! I've missed all the fun stuff with Alf and bull penises and so forth~~~
good to be home. Now to plan the big meal.

Mary Beth said...

Help me envision please.

Is everything up on a stage with a clear division from the audience or is it an installation in a black box theatre that invites the audience member to fall through and become part of the experience?

Yeah,yeah, yeah! Leave it to me to ask just the question you didn't want to hear!

Mary Beth said...

Uh.. that was supposed to be walk through.

The "bullies" still have me flustered!

Dan Dutton said...

Welcome back S! (We've got to get thru t-giving first! Do you want to come home for that?)

MB YOU will have to be harnessed. These questions are KILLING me! lol ~ As it happens tho, I know the answers to this: the space I'm looking at is in a museum atrium, so you would descend a staircase into the surrounding environment of The Old House - the Hill & Spring, paradoxically, but phenomenologically correct, will be in the center of the labyrinth of time. Voice X - the DJ of digital phenomena, needn't even be on site ~ I suppose some sort of random-chance-generator could fill in for a decision making performer at times... - the four voices could exist both in bodied and disembodied formats - appearing as digital projections with pre-recorded or live voices, and as "historical mediums" attempting to bring the voices of the past to life. (life?) Perhaps it is more a matter of transporting the witnesses to the realm of the past which is not dead, just in a different situation.

I like the idea of "fall thru" ~ the present we walk on, as tho it were solid earth, is permeable. Maybe sinkholes...

Dan Dutton said...

... these are, of course, just musings about what You'll Always Come Back MIGHT be.

But I did swear off the proscenium arch theater after The Secret Commonwealth.

Mary Beth said...

I LOVE the idea of descending into the past!

Thank you for allowing your audience to be in...in...uh.... the scared where and when ever. I have to admit I longed to roam and explore and touch BUT, I know better than to make any suggestions or to tell you what to do!

Cathy said...

Heh. If you're flustered by bullies, just wait until Dan harnesses you. ;-}

I think those design motifs are lovely, especially the morning glory vine.

Dan Dutton said...

Ha! I think that You'll Always Come Back has to be exploratory, in some sense, for whoever participates in it. But that presents huge challenges for live performance, narrative continuity (not that I've paid THAT much mind in the past...) and especially cohesion. I'm just spinning threads at present.

MB, after warding off Civil War era music & the antebellum, today I found myself trying out singing some of those songs, just to see... while I was picking mushrooms. The thought "well they COULD work, if..." came sashshaying in. So there goes my resolve.

Dan Dutton said...

When I put things in my PAPER notebook - the notebook never commented! In fact, putting things in my notebook was as good as hiding them. Oh strange new world...

Well I like it.

Dan Dutton said...

And another thing...

Gaston Bachelard pointed out that in dreams we only DESCEND into cellars...

SBD said...

I always want to come home...always.
It is also J"s birthday~~
so, let me see what the lay of the land will be...maybe we can all come or something~~~~~~~
I will comment further(on blog) when my brain cools....

Mary Beth said...

Now, now ya'll! What would a sweet like vanilla primarty teacher know about being harnessed?

Dan, glad to hear that the mushrroms worked their magic and have you singing!

Will the spring be given the sounds of actual water or will it issue forth images and music only?

Will the images talke as one passes a la the Marker's Mark tour?

What's wrong with decsnding into cellars? That's were the good wine, best jellies, and a trove of family treasures are hidden?

In my dreams I descend a flight of pale limestone stairs into a sunken graden filled with star jasmine, rugosa roses, and towering lilacs. I guess my cellar is growning more than just mold!

Mary Beth said...

HOly heck! Have one glass of wine after a long parent meeting and all typing skills leave your fingers.

Sorry gang!

Dan Dutton said...

That descending stair dream is the best... Hey, no, wait a minute, I did dream once that some folks that looked a little like gypsies invited me to a dream party - we descended the (dissolving) stairs of the wooden deck behind a suburban house into Elfland, & that was pretty good.

I'm planning to video & record the sound of Pete's Spring - & other sounds, on Dutton Hill. Jason & I worked with a lot of field recordings on The Faun, and some of the dance rhythms in that one were generated from insect, frog, & bird sounds.

I'm going to pass on how techno this COULD be, for now. There's a part of me that would like to make this piece very simple - performable without special effects. I made a pact with myself to spend at least the first year exploring outward (inward?) before attempting to establish firm boundaries... so I've got a few months to dream anything everything.

I'm only nostalgic for this amorphous stage when I'm not in it.

Mary Beth said...

Oh Dan thank you! I was just praying for the sounds of water over limestone, spring peepers, and big old bumble bees exploring sweet clover and Goldenrod.

Thank you for understanding how very important these memories are when one lives in exile from Kentucky! Those precious sounds are part of my "touch stones to what is."

It's a pity that scent can't be part of the experience. Scents take me home in a heartbeat!

I'm proud of you for really unsdertanding the special little things that make Kentucky one step away form fairy land/ mythology/paradise.

Good on you!

Dan Dutton said...

OH! Scents are not out of the question!

We used a very rare (and incredibly expensive) Japanese incense for the performances of The Approach of the Mystery. For The Faun we had a censor of white copal.

I think Cedar (who is, after all, an important entity on The Hill) ~ is very do-able.

My dream is work that stimulates all the senses - and it is certain that of all the senses, scent is the most evocative of memories. Proust might not agree, but then, taste is dependent on scent.

Which reminds me that I happened on my madeline pans today & plan to make some tomorrow. If only Sarah & I had harvested all those linden flowers for tea!

SBD said...

Next year we will snag those linden flowers!
I agree with Mary Beth. I get to vicariously wander the hill each day from my cozy little room...
delighting in the sights, sounds and senses...
my memory bank is flooded and I have no intention of letting even one beautiful thought escape!